The following document is China’s updated plan to improve the “scientific literacy” of its population. The plan sets the themes and priorities of China’s scientific literacy and science popularization efforts through 2035. The document focuses on increasing the scientific literacy of five populations in particular: youth, rural residents, industrial workers, the elderly, and officials.
The Chinese source text is available online at: http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2021-06/25/content_5620813.htm
An archived version of the Chinese source text is available online at: https://perma.cc/M3KQ-8JDF
U.S. $1 ≈ 6.5 Chinese Yuan Renminbi (RMB), as of September 16, 2021.
State Council Notice on the Publication of the Outline of the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan (2021–2035)
(2021) No. 9
To the people’s governments of all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, and all ministries and commissions of the State Council and their subordinate agencies:
The Outline of the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan (2021 – 2035) is hereby issued to you. Please implement it conscientiously, taking into consideration the actual conditions of your region and department.
June 03, 2021
(This document is released publicly)
Outline of the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan
The Outline of the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan (2021-2035) (hereinafter referred to as the Scientific Literacy Outline) has been specially formulated in order to implement the important arrangements of the Party Central Committee and the State Council on science popularization and scientific literacy construction, in accordance with the Scientific and Technological Progress Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Popularization of Science and Technology (hereinafter referred to as the S&T Popularization Law), and to implement relevant national S&T strategic plans.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out: “S&T innovation and science popularization are the two wings for achieving innovation and development, and we should attach equal importance to science popularization and S&T innovation. Without broad-based improvement of the scientific literacy (科学素质) of all the people, it would be difficult to establish a large high-quality and innovative workforce, and it would be difficult to achieve rapid conversion of S&T achievements into practical applications (科技成果快速转化).” The spirit of this important instruction is the fundamental compliance of science popularization and scientific literacy with the construction of high-quality development in the new stage of development (新发展阶段).
Scientific literacy is an important part of national quality (国民素质), and is the basis for the progress of society and civilization. Citizens having scientific literacy means they hold the scientific spirit in esteem, establish scientific thinking, master the basic scientific method, understand necessary S&T knowledge, and are able to apply their analysis and judgment of things and solve practical problems. Improving scientific literacy is of great importance for establishing a scientific worldview and methodology on the part of citizens, enhancing the country’s independent innovation capability and cultural soft power, and building a socialist modernized world power (社会主义现代化强国).
Since the Outline of the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan (2006-2010-2020) was issued and implemented, especially since the 18th Party Congress, under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and under the State Council’s coordinated deployments and the tireless efforts of all regions and departments, the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan has achieved remarkable results, with objectives and tasks accomplished according to schedule. The level of scientific literacy of citizens has increased significantly, with the proportion of those with scientific literacy reaching 10.56% in 2020; the science education and training system continues to improve, with science education incorporated in all levels of basic education;1 mass media S&T communication capacity has increased significantly, with the informatization level of science popularization having improved markedly; science popularization infrastructure has developed rapidly, with the initial completion of the modern S&T museum system; the science popularization talent team continues to grow; new breakthroughs have been made in scientific literacy international exchanges; a system of policies and regulations has been established, with the S&T Popularization Law as the core; a four-level organization and implementation system at the national, provincial, city, and county levels has been created, and a construction model of “Party leadership, government promotion, universal participation, social coordination, and open cooperation” has been explored. This has made positive contributions toward creating a good social atmosphere for innovation and development, ensuring that the battle against poverty will be won on schedule, and ensuring the establishment of a well-off society in an all-round way (全面建成小康社会) will be on schedule.
Remarkable achievements have been made in China’s scientific literacy construction, but some problems and shortcomings exist as well. The latter are reflected mainly in: a low overall level of scientific literacy, and unbalanced urban-rural and regional development; inadequate promotion of the scientific spirit, and an insufficiently rich social atmosphere for scientific rationality; insufficient effective supply of science popularization, and a weak grassroots base; and the fact that institutional arrangements for implementing “science popularization and S&T innovation are equally important” have not yet formed, and organizational leadership, assurance of prerequisites, and so on still need to be strengthened.
Given the aim of building [China into] a world S&T powerhouse (科技强国) and a socialist modernized world power,2 scientific literacy needs to take on more important missions. First, centered around meeting the people’s new demands for the good life (美好生活) at a higher level, scientific literacy construction needs to highlight the leading role of value, improve the public’s lifelong learning ability, and constantly enrich the people’s spiritual home (人民精神家园), thereby serving people’s overall development. Second, centered around constructing the new development pattern, scientific literacy construction needs to play an important role in serving economic and social development, using a high-quality and innovative workforce to support high-quality development. Third, centered around strengthening and innovating social governance (社会治理), scientific literacy construction needs to better promote the modernization of people, and create a scientifically rational, civilized and harmonious social atmosphere, thereby serving the modernization of the nation’s governance system and governance capacity. Fourth, centered around forming a new pattern of opening up to the outside, it is necessary to have scientific literacy construction better play bridging and connecting roles, to deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges in S&T, and promote mutual understanding between civilizations, in the service of building a community of common destiny for humanity.
Download Full TranslationState Council Notice on the Publication of the Outline of the Nationwide Scientific Literacy Action Plan (2021-2035)
- Translator’s note: “Basic education” (基础教育) refers to primary and lower secondary (middle school or junior high school) general education, per the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED).
- Translator’s note: This translation renders the Chinese word 强国 qiángguó—which literally means “strong nation”—in English in two different ways, depending on context. When qiángguó is used in the general geopolitical sense, it is translated “world power,” as in the phrase “socialist modernized world power” (社会主义现代化强国). When the Chinese text refers to a specific flavor of qiángguó, it is translated “powerhouse,” as in the phrase “S&T powerhouse” (科技强国). For a more thorough discussion in English of the Chinese word qiángguó, see: https://www.newamerica.org/cybersecurity-initiative/digichina/blog/lexicon-wangluo-qiangguo/