Science and technology in the People's Republic of China

Science and technology in the People's Republic of China

Science and technology in the People's Republic of China has been growing rapidly. As China develops and becomes more connected to the global economy, the government has placed a stronger emphasis on science and technology as an integral part of the socio-economic development of the country. This has led to increases in investment, improved scientific structures, and more funding for research. These factors have led to many advancements, including in the fields of agriculture, medicine, genetics, global change and space science.


China's scientific research system is a cooperative one, comprising the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), schools of higher learning, industrial departments, national defense departments and local scientific research institutes. The over 160 national scientific and academic organizations affiliated to the China Association for Science and Technology, as well as its branches in various large and medium-sized cities, are also important forces in scientific and technological research.

The Beijing-based CAS is China's highest academic institute and comprehensive research center in natural sciences. Its academic divisions include mathematics and physics, chemistry, geography, biology, technological sciences, and it has more than 100 research institutes throughout China. Before 2010, the CAS plans to found some 80 national research institutes specializing in scientific and technological innovation and continuous development.

There are approximately 700 CAS Academicians -- the highest life-time academic title the government grants in science and technology. The average age of the 58 elected in 2003 was 58.86, the youngest group ever, the two youngest being only 37 years old. The Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) is the highest honorary, consultative institute in engineering science and technology, conducting strategic studies of the state's important engineering-related issues, providing consultation for decision-making, and promoting the development of engineering science and technology. There were 663 CAE academicians, including 62 elected in 2003.

The role of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) is to support basic research and some applied research projects using government appropriations in line with the state's guiding principles and sci-tech development policies. Over the past dozen years, the NSFC has subsidized thousands of diverse research projects and about 60,000 scientists working in basic research.


Science and technology have long preoccupied the PRC's leaders. In 1976 Premier Zhou Enlai established "Science and Technology" (科技) as one of the Four Modernizations. The third and fourth generations of leaders come almost exclusively from technical backgrounds. Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji were trained as electrical power engineers. Hu Jintao was trained as a hydraulic engineer.

According to some Chinese science policy experts, distortions in the economy and society created by Communist Party of China rule has hurt Chinese science.Who|date=July 2007 Before the 1990s, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), modeled on the Soviet system, placed much of the PRC's scientific talent in a large, under-funded apparatus that remains largely isolated from industry. However, as a result of Chinese economic reform, most Chinese scientific institutions have been encouraged to commercialize their activities, and Chinese scientists have increasingly begun to "Xiahai" (enter the sea) or go into business.

Reforms of the Chinese Academy of Sciences continue even as many Chinese scientists debate what institutional arrangements will be best for Chinese science. The average age of Chinese researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has dropped by nearly ten years between 1991 and 2003, as the older generation retired and younger researchers, many educated in the United States and other foreign countries, took their place. CAS also cut the number of its institutes back from one hundred and twenty in 1998 to ninety-eight in 2005. ["Knowledge Innovation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences" in the April 7, 2006 issue of Science (pp. 58 - 59).]

Chinese university undergraduate and graduate enrollments more than doubled from 1995 to 2005. The universities now have more cited PRC papers than CAS in the Science Citation Index.Fact|date=February 2007 Some Chinese scientists say CAS is still ahead on overall quality of scientific work but that lead will only last five to ten years.

R&D investment by Chinese enterprises is increasing rapidly. Total investment for technological innovation by Chinese enterprises in 2003 totaled 96 billion RMB (about USD 10 billion) 62% of the PRC total. That year state research institutes and universities contributed 26% and 10% of the total funds invested in technological innovation. In 2003, China’s 22,276 large and medium-sized enterprises spent 159 billion RMB on S&T expenses (keji jingfei) an increase of 5% over 2002 and 46% of the national total. In 2003, the enterprise R&D workforce totaled 656,100, about 60% of the national total. In 2003, the R&D workers at state research institutes and at institutions of higher education were 19% and 17% respectively of the total R&D workforce. Patent applications by Chinese enterprises rose 48% to 54,869 in 2003. Breaking down patent application categories, invention patents ("faming zhuanli") rose 131%, design patents rose 30% and external appearance patents rose 57%. ["Issues in Building a National Innovation System" in 2005 High Technology Development Report (Gao Jishu Fazhan Baogao) from the Chinese Academy of Science (Kexue Chubanshe, Beijing 2005.]

Cooperation between enterprises and institutions of higher education has grown rapidly over the past several years. During 1999 - 2003, S&T work fees received by institutions of higher education from enterprises rose from 5.3 billion RMB to 11.2 billion RMB. ["Issues in Building a National Innovation System" in 2005 High Technology Development Report (Gao Jishu Fazhan Baogao) from the Chinese Academy of Science (Kexue Chubanshe, Beijing 2005).]

Nonetheless, there are serious shortcomings to China’s national innovation system. There are problems with services to help turn S&T work into results and the allocation of national funding to support S&T is far from optimal. Sometimes researchers become shortsighted if they get too close to the market. Another serious problem is that companies facing severe competition look first to purchase foreign technology rather than investing in developing technology and technology development capacity at home in China. Many of the patent applications come from medium sized enterprises (70%) since small enterprises invest little in research. ["Issues in Building a National Innovation System" in 2005 High Technology Development Report (Gao Jishu Fazhan Baogao) from the Chinese Academy of Science (Kexue Chubanshe, Beijing 2005).]

Government oversight

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, on May 6, 1995 issued the 'Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on the Acceleration of Progress in Science and Technology'. The 'Decision' set the goal of overall (both public and private) to attain Chinese R&D spending equivalent to 1.5% of GDP by the year 2000. It urged scientific academies and institutes of higher education to set up high tech companies. The 'Decision' noted that science and technology are the chief forces of social and economic development. The leadership directed Chinese science and technology problems such as population control, feeding the population, the environment (including pollution abatement technologies), and public health (such as pharmaceuticals development). [US Embassy Beijing November 1996 report, ["PRC State Council Decision on Accelerating S&T Development."] ]

The 'Decision' called for a reform of the Chinese science and technology structure to meet the needs of the socialist market economy. Science should move out of the institutes into private enterprises. Government research institutes should enter into cooperative ventures with Chinese and foreign companies, decide by themselves what direction their research should take, and become responsible for whatever profits or losses they incur. The flow of personnel, information, and capital must become faster and smoother so that companies (as well as government research institutes and universities which have created their own high tech companies) can orient their research programs according to market needs (and consequently to what the market is willing to fund).

Peer review system

Peer review by funding organizations such as the National Science Foundation of China over the past decade has improved the effectiveness of science funding and raised the quality of Chinese science. The NNSFC in 1999 funded 16% of the 20,000 grant applications it receives each year from its annual budget of RMB 800 million (USD 100 million) which has increased nearly 20% annually since the founding of the NNSFC ten years ago. NNSFC now awards more research grants on a competitive basic than does the Ministry of Science and Technology which awards RMB 500 million annually. NNSFC grants often serve as seed money attesting to the quality of a project. Local government money often follows thereafter. The Chinese leadership set the goal of total (central and local government) Chinese spending on basic and applied research to reach 1.5 % of GDP by the year 2000. NNSFC spending is a small but growing fraction of that amount.

Shielded from government-wide funding costs, the NNSFC’s budget is becoming an increasingly large part of China’s basic research spending. Grants include neither overhead nor salary but are dedicated to direct research costs. Three types of programs: young scientist, building science in the developing regions of China and new high tech concepts account for 80% of the NNSFC budget. The young scientist program also provides for short-term (up to six months) training overseas and for the support of visiting foreign scientists.

Chinese scientists serve for two to four years on a review panel for their field. The process from application to decision on the three year grants takes about six months. The NNSFC funds 60 major projects at 5 million RMB per year and 500 - 600 other projects at 1 million RMB per year as well as a large number of smaller grants at 150,000 RMB per year. The grants are low compared with the average U.S. grant size but are larger than they appear since the grants are for direct research costs and exclude salaries which typically account for 60% of U.S. research grants. One scientist said that the invention of the Chinese word processor made peer review possible, since “I know the calligraphy of everyone in my field!”.

Concerned about corruption in Chinese science [See for example the mid March 2006 issue of China Newsweek 中国新闻周刊 "A SARS-like Epidemic of Corruption in Higher Education" and Science 9 June 2006:Vol. 312. no. 5779, pp. 1464-1466.] Some Chinese scientists, including Professor Liu Ming 刘明 of Zhejiang University in his 2005 book "Critique of the Academic Evaluation System" 学术评价制度批判, argue that interference from government officials and university bureaucrats makes peer review far less effective in China than it could be. The time scientists spend cultivating politically influential people is lost to scientific research. Liu argues that the command economy mentality of measuring everything by the numbers combined with pervasive political interference results in a great waste of money, human talent as well as considerable corruption in Chinese science. [Liu Ming, Critique of the Academic Evaluation System 学术评价制度批判 Changjiang Wenyi Chubanshe, 2005.]

Research awards and grants

Grants awarded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China fall within areas which are designated as scientific priorities by the current Five Year Plan. Thus funding decisions are based on a judgment on how research opportunities and interests of researcher match national science goals enunciated in da Five year Plan. Within these designated areas, the peer review panels make awards. a wide range of basic science activities are funded as can be seen from the current “Guide to Programs of the National Natural Science Foundation of China" published annually by the Military Medical Science Press (Taiping Rd. No. 27, Beijing 100850 CHINA). The Guide can also be found on the National Natural Science Foundation of China website [] .

Many fields discussed in the 150 page “Guide to Programs” break down into the areas of mathematical and physical sciences; chemistry and chemical engineering, life sciences, earth sciences, engineering and material sciences, information science, management science, and special interdisciplinary fields such as environmental science, global change, polar region research, natural disaster reduction and fundamental research on scientific instruments.


In 1900, China had no modern science and technology at all - fewer than 10 people in all of China understood calculusFact|date=May 2008. Now, in the early 21st century, the gap in high-technology research and development between China and the world's advanced countries has shrunk; 60 percent of technologies, including atomic energy, space, high-energy physics, biology, computer and information technology, have reached or are close to the world advanced level. On October 15, 2003, the successful launch of the "Shenzhou V" manned spacecraft made China the third country to master manned spaceflight technology. According to the Moon Probe Project started in February 2004, China will launch unmanned probes to the moon before 2010, and gather moon soil samples before 2020.

China's development of science and technology and its system of granting science and technology awards are underpinned by the basic "Law on Progress of Science and Technology" promulgated in July 1993. This stipulates the objectives, functions and sources of funds, and the system of rewards for science and technology development. The "Law on Popularization of Science and Technology" promulgated in June 2002 makes a societal goal to popularize science and technology knowledge among all citizens. Local regulations have been issued for attracting talented people, ensuring investment in science and technology, and developing high technology.

Since the 1990s, state budgets for science and technology have greatly increased. In 2004, the appropriation for science and technology reached 97.55 billion yuan, 19.5 percent more than in 2003; the government spent 184.3 billion yuan on scientific research and development, 19.7 percent more than in 2003, accounting for 1.35 percent of GDP, the highest in China's history.

In 2004 there were 55.75 million scientific and technological personnel in state-owned enterprises and institutions, and the number of scientific and technological personnel out of every ten thousand employees had increased from 870 in 1985 to 3,900. Over half the academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering are scholars who have returned during the past two decades after finishing their studies abroad.

From 2002, the national strategy for developing science and technology shifted from following on the heels of others to making independent innovations and technological strides, aiming at the international sci-tech heights. According to a national plan, by 2005 China should be in the world's advanced ranks in certain fields, attaining or approaching the front rank in some important scientific and strategic hi-tech fields; expenditure for developing experimental and research science will increase to over 1.5 percent of GDP; by 2010 a preliminary national innovation system will be established, the building of basic science and technology conditions will be obvious, national key bases for scientific research will reach the world advanced level, China's innovation ability in key fields will increase, and expenditure for developing experimental and research science will reach 2% of GDP; by 2020, a relatively complete national innovation system will be in place, expenditure for developing experimental and research science will account for 3% of GDP, and China's competitiveness in science and technology will increase.


During the science and technology development that China has experienced since the 1980s, many key technical problems of socio-economic development have been solved through a combination of sci-tech research, the introduction of foreign technologies and technological upgrading. Since 1981, Chinese research has produced 583,000 important scientific and technological outcomes. In 2004, scientific and technological outcomes above provincial and ministerial level numbered 29,870, of which 2,029 related to basic theory, 26,425 to applied technology, and 1,416 to "soft" sciences.

In 2004, there were 93,352 theses from China embodied in the three world-renowned search systems, viz. Science Citation Index, Engineering Information and Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings, accounting for 5.1 percent of all the world's theses.

Reflecting growth in innovation, patent applications are increasing; 2 million applications were filed in 2004, covering invention, utility model and external design. The National Intellectual Property Office received over 350,000 patent applications, and granted over 190,000 in the year, 4.4 percent above 2003 level.

Nanotechnology-related patent applications have grown particularly fast, reflecting that China was one of the few countries to start focusing on nanomaterials in the 1990s. Today there are 2,400 such patents, 12 percent of the world total.

Research areas

Information industry

The information industry has become China's economic mainstay. In 2004, the added value of China's information industry, the world's third largest, stood at 950 billion yuan. Output value, sales and profits of electronic and telecoms manufacturing all outstripped those of traditional industries, making the greatest contribution to national economic growth.

By the end of 2004, China had boasted 74,429 MB export broadband capacity, 670,000 websites, 430,000 China-coded domain names, 41.6 million computers with Internet access, and 94 million Internet users, ranking second in the world. A host of web-based services have thrived, among them network education, online banking, E-commerce, Internet advertising, news, video, and charged postal services, Internet Protocol (IP) telephone, SMS text-messaging, online recruitment, information services and games.

Posts and telecommunications are important elements of the information industry. After decades of construction and development, a national postal network has taken shape, with Beijing and other major cities as the centers, linking all cities and rural areas. As for the construction of the telecommunications network, a basic transmission network featuring large capacity and high speed is now in place. It covers the whole country, with the optical cable as the mainstay, supplemented by satellite and digital microwave systems.

By 2000 China had completed its "8 Across, 8 Down" optical cable grid, linking the capitals of all provinces and autonomous regions and over 90 percent of counties and cities. Every provincial or autonomous regional capital is connected by at least two optical cables. By the end of 2004, the nation's optical cables extended 3.377 million km. In coastal and economically advanced inland areas, optical cable has reached villages, towns, urban residential communities, and high-rise buildings, thus becoming the main technology for transmitting information. China has participated in the construction of a number of international land and sea-bed optical cables, such as the China-Japan, China-ROK, and Asia-Europe sea cables, and Asia-Europe and China-Russia land optical cables. China initiated the construction of the 27,000-km Asia-Europe land optical cable, the world's longest, passing through 20 countries in its journey from Shanghai to Frankfurt in Germany. So far, China has established telecommunication business relations with more than 200 countries and regions in the world.

At the end of 2004, China had 647.26 million telephone subscribers, 312.44 million fixed lines and 334.82 million mobile phone subscribers, constituting the world's second-largest telephone network. All cities above the county level had program-controlled switchboards, and program-controlled telephones made up 99.8 percent of the total. There were 8.7 million circuits, all of them automated, for long-distance business. China started mobile telecommunication business in 1987 and the mobile network now covers all large and medium-sized cities, and more than 2,800 small cities and county seats. International roaming service exists with over 150 countries and regions all over the world.

The public data telecommunications network has taken initial shape, with group data exchange network, digital data network, computer Internet, multimedia telecom network, and frame relay network as the mainstays, covering over 90 percent of counties and cities in China, making it one of the world's largest public data telecommunications networks. Radio and TV networks continue to develop rapidly, and the number of radio and TV users exceeded 200 million by 2005. Almost all villages in China have access to radio and TV broadcasting.

Agriculture and medicine

Agricultural research: NNSFC funds applied research for agriculture. Important progress has been made on proteinase inhibitors which kill insects by halting their digestive processes.

Work on medicine and drugs in China includes the development of hepatitis vaccines and studies on the activity of traditional Chinese materia medica. For the first few decades of the PRC, Chinese research focused on examining the traditional pharmacopoeia from the perspective of modern medicine to identify active ingredients in Chinese medicines. This approach was not very successful, said NNSFC officials recently, so now research examines the effect of traditional Chinese medicines on the whole body. These include efforts to understand the effectiveness of traditional pharmaceuticals in such areas as post-stroke rehabilitation.

Some Chinese traditional medicines are now used to reduce suffering and extend the lives of HIV victims in China. Chinese assistance workers in Africa also provide these remedies to their patients. Trachosantheum derived from a traditional Chinese pharmaceutical has been a valuable tool to combating multiple-drug resistant malarial strains in South Asia. Important work on this drug has been done at the Institute of Cell Biology in Shanghai.

Genetics and biodiversity

NNSFC began funding projects on biodiversity in 1993. There are six research groups working on biodiversity, one of which is in Beijing.

China’s Genome project is headquartered in Shanghai. Since 1993, the Chinese Genome Project has carried out genome structural analyses, collected samples of Chinese minorities for a national depository and developed techniques for human genome research informatics. The project started with the rice genome and expanded to human genome research with a focus on disease-causing genes. A liver cancer gene project begun in 1993 is now focusing on chromosome 17. Other groups focus on genes associated with esophageal cancer and psychological disorders. A research group at the Institute of Medical Biology at West China University in Chengdu is looking for disease causing genes in several cell lines. Twelve institutes and nineteen research groups are involved in the human genome project. Shanghai has become a major Chinese center for biotechnology and human genome research.

Global change

Global change research projects include the carbon cycle in ice zones of Antarctica; the relationship between elevation of carbon dioxide concentrations in atmosphere and aquatic organisms, and the effect of sulphocompounds in China on global change. The global change program is linked to four international programs on global change: the International Geosphere and Biosphere Program (IGBP), the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), the Human Dimensions Program for Global Change (HDP/GC) and DIVERSITAS.

Chinese science strategists see Mainland China's greatest opportunities in newly emerging fields such as biotechnology and computers where there is still a chance for the PRC to become a significant player. Most Chinese students who went abroad have not returned, but they have built a dense network of transpacific contacts that will greatly facilitate U.S.-China scientific cooperation in coming years. The United States is often held up as the standard of modernity in the PRC. Indeed, photos of the Space Shuttle often appear in Chinese advertisements as a symbol of advanced technology. The PRC's small but growing human spaceflight program, whose Shenzhou spacecraft carried the first PRC citizen safely into space October 15 2003, is a source of national pride.

The U.S.-PRC Science and Technology Agreement remains the framework for bilateral cooperation in this field. A five-year agreement to extend the S&T Agreement was signed in April 2001. There are currently over 30 active protocols under the Agreement, covering cooperation in areas such as marine conservation, renewable energy, and health. Japan and the European Union also have high profile science and technology cooperative relationships with the People's Republic of China. Biennial Joint Commission Meetings on Science and Technology bring together policymakers from both sides to coordinate joint S&T cooperation. Executive Secretaries meetings are held each year to implement specific cooperation programs.

Space science

Chang'e I, China's moon probing project is proceeding in full swing in a well-organized way. China's first moon probing is planned to be launched in three years. Four scientific goals have been set for the first stage of the program, Chang'e I moon orbiting project. This was disclosed recently by Ou'yang Ziyuan, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and China's chief scientist on moon probing. He also detailed the project as follows. Verifications have been conducted on China's moon probing program for years. There were additional verifications on the technical scheme in recent two years. Now everything is going on as scheduled.

The first stage of the program, Chang'e I as it is called, will mostly adopt existing mature technologies and there is nothing insurmountable or fundamental problems technically. However, it takes time to develop all equipment to be installed inside the satellite and to establish systems for orbiting, carrying, monitoring, and ground receiving, as the project aims at the lift-off of a moon probing satellite and making it orbit the moon. It is scheduled that three years is needed before the maiden visit to the moon can be made.

According to the short-term planning, there are three stages for China's moon probing, that is, orbiting, docking, and returning. In the first stage, orbiting, China's first moon exploration satellite will be developed and launched which will conduct a comprehensive, overall, and panoramic observation to capture three-dimensioned graphs of the moon. Researches for the second stage, docking, include the launch of a docking vehicle for lunar soft landing, soft landing test, inspection around the lunar surface by a lunar rover, on-spot explorations, and moon-based astronomical observations. For the third stage, returning, in addition to a docking vehicle, a small-sized sampling capsule will be launched which will collect key samples from the moon and return to the earth. "Orbiting" is presently central to China's moon probing program.

There are four scientific goals for this stage of "orbiting".

For the first goal, there will be three-dimensioned graphs of the lunar surface. Basic structures and physiognomy units of the lunar surface will be defined precisely. Researches on the shape, size, distribution, and density will be made on the crates on the moon. These researches on the crates will produce data for identifying the age of the surface and early history of terrestrial planets and provide information needed to select the sites selecting for soft landing on the moon surface and for the lunar base.

The second goal is concentrating on the distribution and types of elements. It will be focused on the content and distribution of 14 elements such as titanium and iron which can be exploited. A map of elements distribution around the moon will be sketched. Graphs for lunar rocks, mineral materials and geology will also be drawn respectively. The area rich in specific elements will be identified. And prospects of the development and exploitation of the mineral resources will be evaluated.

The third goal is to detect the depth of the lunar soil through microwave radiation. In this way we can calculate the age of the lunar surface and distribution of the lunar soil on the lunar surface. This lays a foundation for the further estimates of the content, distribution, and quantity of helium-3 which is power generating fuel caused by nuclear fusion.

The fourth goal is focused on the space environment between the earth and the moon. The average distance between the earth and the moon is approximately 384,000 km, which is in the earth's far magnetotail. Here the satellite probes solar energetic particles, plasma in solar wind, and the interaction between the solar wind and the moon and between the tail of the magnetic field of the earth and the moon.


As the fifth country to develop and launch an independent man-made satellite, the third to master satellite recovery technology, China is in the world's front ranks in many important technological fields, including satellite recovery, the carrying of multiple satellites on one rocket, rocket technology, and the launch, test and control of static-orbit satellites. Achievements have been made in remote-sensing satellites, communications satellites, and in manned space experiments.

*Manned spacecraft: October 15, 2003 saw the successful launch of the first manned spacecraft "Shenzhou V", developed independently by China, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and following four unmanned launches between November 1999 and December 2002. "Shenzhou V" sent China's first astronaut into space and returned successfully, making China the world's third country to independently develop and deploy manned space flight technology. " Shengzhou VI", carrying two astronauts, successfully accomplished its space flight on October 12-17, 2005.

*Man-made earth satellites: From the launch of its first man-made earth satellite "Dongfanghong No. 1" in April 1970 to the end of 2000, China successfully launched 75 satellites, including 48 developed by China itself and 27 commercial satellites for foreign customers. Fifteen types of satellite were launched in the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005), including communications, navigation, meteorological, resource remote-sensing, and space survey satellites, representing half of all satellites launched in the past 30 years.

*Carrier rockets: China has developed 12 models of the "Long March" carrier rocket series, and is able to launch low earth orbit, geostationary orbit, and sun-synchronous orbit satellites and spaceships. The successful launch rate is over 90 percent; between October 1996 and December 2004, "Long March" rockets made 83 launches. China's next step is to develop a new carrier rocket series. The Jiuquan, Xichang and Taiyuan satellite-launch centers are internationally recognized.

Social sciences

There are five major systems for social sciences research, which involve about 100,000 researchers; they are: the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, local academies of social sciences, schools of higher learning, research units affiliated to government agencies and army-affiliated research units.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, established in 1977, is responsible for creative theoretical exploration and policy research for the improvement of humanities and social sciences standards throughout China. The academy is the top academic organization in the field, by virtue of its comprehensive scope and concentration of human talent, data and research materials. The Academy has 31 research institutes and 45 research centers with over 3,200 researchers, some 1,700 of them senior experts.

Development zones

China has built up thousands of new and high-tech development zones. In the 53 state-level new and high-tech development zones, a great many sci-tech research results have been put into use in production. By 2004, there had been over 30,000 high-tech enterprises in these zones, 20 of which had annual production values over 10 billion yuan, more than 200 over five billion yuan, and 3,000 over 100 million yuan. In these zones, the average growth in major economic indicators has been maintained at 60 percent per annum for 12 years running, and they have become important engines of national economic growth.

Private science and technology enterprises have also made some headway, some becoming group corporations with annual output values of anything from several hundred million up to several billion yuan. Their high-tech products now account for over half of the domestic market for such products.

Establishing export bases for new and high-tech products in selected high-tech industrial development zones is an important part of the government's plan for developing trade through science and technology. The first designated export bases, selected because of their rapid overall development, rich talent, excellent equipment, and rapidly growing exports of high-tech products, include the Beijing Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park and high-tech industrial development zones in Tianjin, Shanghai, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Hubei, Guangdong, Shaanxi, Dalian, Xiamen, Qingdao and Shenzhen. The Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin region have the greatest concentration of such export bases, consequently export volumes of new and high-tech products from these areas account for over 80 percent of the national total.

National programs

Since the 1980s, China has formulated a series of national programs for science and technology research and development, with the strategic aim of improving China's competitiveness in science and technology in the 21st century. The Key Technologies Resarch and Development Program, the 863 Program and the 973 Program form the main body of state programs for science and technology. The Spark and the Torch programs have been important in raising China's strength in this area.

Key Technologies Research and Development Program

The "Key Technologies Research and Development Program", launched in 1982, was the biggest scientific and technological program in China during the 20th century. Oriented toward national economic construction, it aims to solve critical, direction-related and comprehensive problems in national economic and social development; it covers agriculture, electronic information, energy, transport, materials, resources exploration, environmental protection and medical care, and other fields. Engaging tens of thousands of researchers in over 1,000 research institutes, the Key Technologies Program has had the largest funds, employed the most people and had the greatest impact on national economy of any plan to date.

863 Program

In March 1986, the "National Hi-tech Research and Development Program" (863 Program) was launched, after exhaustive examination by scientists. The Program set 20 themes in biology, spaceflight, information, laser, automation, energy, new materials and oceanography. Government's role is one of macro-control and support. The general research is decided on by scientific discussion, and specific projects determined by a committee of experts responsible for keeping abreast of international research developments, and reporting annually on their own fields, so as to set new research directions. Another distinctive feature of the program is that its results can be quickly industrialized.

973 Program

A national key program for development of basic scientific research, the 973 Program was launched in 1998. It mainly involves multi-disciplinary, comprehensive research on important scientific issues in such fields as agriculture, energy, information, resources, population, health, and materials, providing theoretical basis and scientific foundations for solving problems. The program encourages outstanding scientists to carry out key basic research in cutting-edge science and important sci-tech issues in fields with a great bearing on socio-economic development. Representing China's national goals, it aims to provide strong scientific and technological support for significant issues in China's 21st century socio-economic development.

Torch Program

Launched in August 1988, the Torch Program is China's most important high-tech industry program and a national guideline program. As such, it includes: organizing and putting into action a series of development projects for high-tech products with advanced technology levels and good economic benefits in domestic and foreign markets; establishing high-tech industrial development zones throughout the country; and, exploring management systems and operation mechanisms suitable for hi-tech industrial development. The Program mainly involves projects in new technological fields, such as new materials, biotechnology, electronic information, integrated mechanical-electrical technology, and advanced and energy-saving technology.

park Program

Launched in 1986, the Spark Program aims to revitalize rural economy through development and popularization of science and technology in rural areas so as to improve the lives of the rural population. Today, there are more than 140,000 sci-tech demonstration projects being carried out in 90 percent of rural areas throughout China.

International cooperation

China has cooperated through programs in science and technology with 152 countries and regions, signed inter-governmental sci-tech cooperation agreements with 96 countries and joined more than 1,000 international sci-tech cooperation organizations. Non-governmental international cooperation and exchanges have also been increasing. The China Association for Science and Technology and affiliated organizations have joined 244 international scientific and technological organizations; in international scientific and technological organizations, Chinese researchers hold 293 executive member-director or higher level posts, 281 leading posts on expert committees of international organizations; and 253 CAS scientists hold posts in international scientific organizations. The China Natural Science Foundation has concluded cooperative agreements and memoranda with counterpart organizations in 36 countries.

The International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award of the People's Republic of China is a national science and technology award established by the State Council. It is granted to foreign scientists, science and technology engineers and managers, or organizations that have made important contributions to China's bilateral or multilateral scientific and technological cooperation. By the end of 2004, 35 foreign experts have won the award.

ee also

*History of science and technology in the People's Republic of China
*History of science and technology in China
*List of Chinese inventions
*Scientific publishing in China
*Science in newly industrialized countries

Science-related organizations:
*Chinese Academy of Sciences
*Chinese Academy of Engineering
*Chinese Academy of Social Sciences


External links

* [ Ministry of Science and Technology] en icon
* [ China Science and Technology Information Center] zh icon
* [ Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China]

* [ China Association for Science and Technology] (CAST)

Cooperation with the United States:
* [ US-China Cooperation in Environment, Science and Technology]

* [ SciTech: Popular Science in China] China Radio International en icon

* [ History of Chinese Invention and Discovery in Timeline]
* [ Chinese Science and the 'Nobel Prize Complex'] by Cong Cao
* [ Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Take Place in China --Or Didn't It?] N. Sivin (Published in Sivin, Science in Ancient China, (Aldershot, Hants: Variorum, 1995), chapter VII)
* [ In Memoriam: Dr. Joseph Needham, 1900-1995] Erik Zürcher, International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) Newsletter
* [ May 1999 U.S. Embassy Beijing report Breaking The PRC Iron Test Tube: Peer Review And The National Natural Science Foundation Of China]
* [ 1995 CCP Central Committee and State Council "Decision on Accelerating S&T Development"]
* [ Dedicated issue of "Philosophical Transactions B" on Biological Science in China, co-sponsored by the *Chinese Academy of Sciences. Some articles are freely available.]

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