Lichen specialist Chen Jianbin is collecting samples near the Great Wall Station of China in the South Pole.

Science and Technology

The science and technology research bodies in China consist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, research organizations functioning under departments of the State Council and the local governments, research organizations operating under institutions of higher learning, research organizations run by industrial enterprises, and national defense research organizations. The close cooperation and coordination among various research organizations, each sharing an appropriate part of the research work, forms a nationwide scientific and technological research system. There are also over 160


national scientific and technological academic organizations under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Science and Technology Association, with branches in large and medium-sized cities.

With its headquarters in Beijing, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is the paramount academic organ and comprehensive research center in the natural sciences. It has departments of mathematics and physics, chemistry, earth sciences, biology and technology. It has 123 research institutes, employing over 60,000 scientific and technical personnel. Research organs attached to the Chinese Academy of Sciences are located throughout the country, and branch academies have been established in provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities where research organs are concentrated. The Chinese Academy of Sciences selects its 630 academicians, including 156 reputable academicians and 36 female academicians, from among high-level scientists, professors and engineers who have made significant contributions in their fields. The Academicians General Meeting is the supreme state consultative organ on science and technology.

The Chinese Academy of Engineering, founded in June 1994, is the most respected and highest academic advisory institution in China’s engineering community. It currently has 439 academicians, including seven members from overseas.

The State Natural Science Foundation Committee was established in February 1986, with the approval of the State Council. Its task is to render assistance to basic research projects and some applied research projects with funds allocated from the state treasury according to the state’s guiding principles for the development of science and technology. The Committee has subsidized more than 40,000 projects in the field of natural science. In the past decade and more, the Committee of the present (fourth) term has 26 members, including 18 academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences or the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The National Committee for Scientific and Technological Awards (NCSTA) was founded in December 1999, with the approval of the State Council. The principal duties of the NCSTA are to macroscopically control and direct awards for science and technology; organize the National Appraisal Committee for Scientific and Technological Awards by engaging relevant specialists and scholars; pass resolutions on award-winners, and the types and levels of the awards, and make policy-related suggestions for perfecting the presentation of the awards; and study and tackle other major problems concerning the national appraisal of the awards.

 The prize-winning projects for 1999 were announced on January 20, 2000. The first prizes for both natural science and technological inventions were left unclaimed. The “FBC-1 Fighter Bomber” and the “New-Style Missile Destroyer” won special-grade prizes for scientific and technological progress. In addition, awards for 602 projects were decided on through discussion, and four people won Awards of the People’s Republic of China for International Cooperation in Science and Technology. The prize-winning projects are indicative of the great attention paid by the whole of Chinese society to the comprehensive use of resources and the protection of ecological balance. Young science and technology workers are also coming into their own rapidly, with researchers under 45 years of age accounting for 46.5 per cent of the prize winners.

In the 1980s, the core of the scientific and technological system reform in China was to establish a new system beneficial to economic development, to solve the chronic problem of technology being divorced from the economy. In the 1990s, the science and technology system reform continued to make progress in redirecting human resources and adjusting its structure. After more than 20 years of reform, the unilateral and closed planned management system has been abolished, and the situation of science and technology being divorced from the economy has been remedied to some extent. The socialist market economy system has begun to play a basic role in scientific and technological operations and the distribution of scientific and technological resources. Most technological development institutes have taken the path of operating according to the market mechanism, gearing to the needs of economic construction and developing on their own, and most of the nation’s scientific and technological forces have entered the major battlefields of economic construction in various ways. This scientific and technological progress has been playing an increasingly important role in promoting economic development and the transfer of the mode of economic growth. The micro-operational mechanism of science and technology research institutes is being transferred to a path of development that fits in with the characteristics and new forms of scientific and technological work.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.