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Academy of Sciences Plans More Genetic Research

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - China's top scientific research institution - will increase efforts to advance human and plant genetics and other leading scientific pursuits.

The academy will invest 500 million yuan (US$60 million) in the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05) to implement 20 large scientific projects, CAS President Lu Yongxiang said at the academy's annual working conference, which opened Tuesday in Beijing.

The projects cover fields ranging from agriculture to the ecosystem, such as rice genetics and the influence of frozen earth on construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

"China has topped the world in completing the mapping for the indica rice genome and in testing for the group hybrid rice genome," said Lu.

Indica rice is a type of paddy that can easily grow in areas with a generally warm climate. And studies of the rice genome will help increase the country's rice output, according to experts.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, which is under construction on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, will cross the Qinghai Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is considered to be a very difficult project because the plateau is mostly capped with frozen earth.

The academy is also determined to hammer out technology for environmental protection and efficient use of natural resources to make sure the economic growth is in harmony with the environment.

Some 67 institutes affiliated with the academy have been approved to operate according to market demand, rather than the closed-door research done in the past.

The move is aimed at further promoting the academy's Knowledge Innovation Project, which was initiated in 1999, to provide long-term technological support for national defence, industrial, agricultural and other economic sectors, said Lu.

Lu said his academy will further enhance cooperation with foreign countries to expand the exchange of technology and talent.

CAS will also work harder to promote public understanding of science and technology to help upgrade laborers' skills, he added.

Sources from the academy said 88 overseas scholars and 89 domestic professors were invited to the academy last year to facilitate academic research.

The academy's door will open wider to foreign scholars as well as outstanding domestic researchers outside of CAS for joint collaboration on significant scientific projects, according to the academy's information office.

International cooperation also scored progress last year. The academy signed 11 bilateral agreements with Germany, Japan and other countries.

(China Daily January 23, 2002)

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