China’s premier has called for universities in his country to avoid duplicating research being carried in parallel at other institutions.
As part of a tour of Tsinghua and Peking universities last Friday, Li Keqiang also said that Chinese universities needed more autonomy and freedom from “outdated” regulations, according to state broadcaster Xinhua.
Since the turn of the millennium, China has ploughed money into scientific research, although there are still concerns over nepotism, plagiarism and corruption in the Chinese academy.
Despite hostile official rhetoric towards “Western values” in universities in recent years, during his visit Mr Li said that “innovation requires one's own efforts as well as the ability to look to, and learn from, advanced experiences and concepts from overseas”.
The government is also hoping that universities will help to move the Chinese economy away from relatively low-tech manufacturing and construction and towards more innovation.
According to Xinhua, he emphasised that “as traditional [economic] development” becomes “weak”, “the country must promote the development of the new economy to stimulate employment and realise high-speed economic growth”.
Mr Li also told a meeting of universities and colleges in Beijing that they should “focus on raising students' awareness for original innovation”, according to a separate report from Xinhua.
“Higher learning institutions should have more decision-making powers for their own operations, and that authorities should delegate more administrative approval powers and cut outdated regulations,” according to the agency.
Scientists should also gain more of the proceeds of their discoveries, and have a greater say in how they are used, he said.