President Xi Jinping has been reiterating the importance of innovation in economic development, and recent media reports have highlighted the "four new great inventions" of modern China－high-speed railway, Alipay, shared bicycles and online shopping. The four new inventions are technological breakthroughs that will help China move toward overall prosperity and make innovation a driver of economic development.
Some may argue that the technologies the "four new great inventions" are based on did not originate in China. That is true, but it is China that used the technologies to come up with the new inventions. This shows that research is important. But it is equally important to successfully implement it.
Each of the four new inventions involves a series of new technologies. High-speed railway involves new material technology, motor technology, bogie processing technology as well as network control technology. From its engine to its cover to its rails, high-speed railway integrates many high technologies. And since high-speed railway is an exemplary combination of technological innovation and industrial capacity, it would not have been possible without China's mature manufacturing industry.
Besides, this invention plays a rather important role in China's modern development. Featuring high speed, huge passenger carrying capacity, low pollution and high safety, it consumes limited energy and resources and has greatly improved the transportation efficiency of the country. China is not only developing a high-speed railway network within the country; it is also building high-speed railways overseas to improve infrastructure in other countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Alipay, the other new invention, has to a large extent solved the trust problem of online trade with modern technologies, by introducing real-name registration, digital certificates and dynamic password based on smartphones. More importantly, it has been constantly adopting new technologies such as 3D fingerprint detection.
By popularizing mobile payment, Alipay is freeing people of the burden of carrying cash. Many foreign tourists who visit China marvel at the convenience of Alipay－all people need to have is a smartphone, which enables them to pay for almost everything. That saves business cost for the whole society and promotes sales. And Chinese consumers have ample reason to be proud of it.
The business of shared bicycles is also based on mobile network, third-party payment and big data technologies, and it has revolutionized the concept of traffics and optimized the usage of roads in cities. Before shared bikes were introduced, urban residents had almost given up on bicycles. But shared bikes have made people realize the benefits of eco-friendly commuting.
Bike sharing has also helped ease traffic jams in cities, by prompting more people to use bicycles, instead of cars, for short-distance travel. The manufacturing industry, too, has benefited, because of the resultant huge demand for bikes.
Online shopping also combines technologies such as the internet, online financing and advanced logistics. It has turned the world into a village in the truest sense of the term: people can now buy anything from anywhere in the world. Moreover, it has helped develop logistical technology to meet the needs of transporting large quantities of goods across long distances at short notice.
True, online shopping poses a challenge to brick-and-mortar stores, but it has also prompted them to improve their services and cut their costs. And the result could be an overall improvement in business.
In other words, the "four new great inventions" have combined modern technologies and helped the Chinese economy to move toward innovation-driven development. Therefore, every Chinese should feel proud of the "four new great inventions".
The author, Xu Gongcheng, is an associate professor at the College of Humanities, Xiamen University.