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Scientists to Get Closer
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According to the US National Science Foundation (NSF) which opened its third world office in Beijing on Wednesday US scientists wish to collaborate more closely with their Chinese counterparts.

"With the new office we expect to bring up more new ideas and further programs in such areas as physics, bioscience and information science," said Dr Arden L Bement, NSF director.

He added that research into global problems such as climate change, ecological disasters and the spread of contagious diseases would be their priorities.

"Our collaboration will not only focus on the nature of these problems but also ways to deal with them," said Dr Bement.

Beijing is the third city outside the US where the NSF has opened an office following Tokyo and Paris. Dr Bement said the opening of the new office followed growing co-operation between scientists from both countries in recent years.

"We have seen that there are great opportunities ahead so we've set-up this operation to facilitate further collaboration," he added.

NSF's Beijing office will be led by William YB Chang who has more than 20 years experience in science and engineering research, education and policy in China.

Aside from research the NSF will also double its funding for student exchanges over the next few years, said Dr Bement. "It’s important because it can lead to a closer understanding of each other's countries especially among young scientists," he explained.

One of the related programs is the young scientist exchange scheme which was jointly initiated by the NSF and the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2004.

Through the program around 30 US master or doctor candidates come to work in China's universities or research institutes each year and receive tuition from Chinese mentors for eight weeks.

The NSF has had a close bond with Chinese scientific organizations since the 1980s. Statistics show that over the years it has spent about US$15 million in Sino-US scientific research programs.

(China Daily May 25, 2006)

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