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Returning Scientists A Leading Force in China
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One of the noteworthy things about the 2005 National Science and Technology Awards that were presented during China's Fourth National Conference on Science and Technology held on Monday in Beijing was that awardees were getting younger and younger. Further, more award-projects had their own patents. More important though was that returning scientists are taking a leading role in scientific research in China.

According to statistics, winners under 45 accounted for 60.9 percent, those aged between 45 to 60 accounted for 23 percent, and others accounted for 16.1 percent. Of the award-winning projects, 73.7 percent were conducted by returning scientists. Scientists returning from overseas also accounted for 30 percent of winners of the National Technical Invention Award, and the Award for Scientific and Technological Progress.

Professor Zhang Weiping from Nankai University, the second-prize winner of the National Natural Science Award, returned to China in 1993 after obtaining his PhD from Paris South University, France. He has been engaged in the research of the Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem, one of the most active research areas of international mainstream mathematics. He was admitted as an academician to the Third World Academy of Sciences in 2001. Currently, he is the head of the Chen Xingsheng Mathematics Research Institute of Nankai University.

Researcher Chen Jianping, who came in second for the National Award for Scientific and Technological Progress, returned to China in 1995 after obtaining his PhD in the United Kingdom. He has achieved a series of important results in the research of plant viruses, and has made key contributions to China's research in this field.

Also notable is the fact that more emphasis has been placed on intellectual property rights (IPR), as was discovered during the appraisal process for the National Sci-Tech Awards. Projects awarded with the 2005 National Technical Invention Award, and 27.8 percent of projects that won awards for Scientific and Technological Progress had registered patents. One of the projects had 26 registered patents, including four international patents.

Another positive result was that China's 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities all presented award-winning projects, which will certainly encourage greater human and financial support for national and regional development strategies.

( by Wang Qian, January 11, 2006)

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