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Jiang Zemin on Science and Technology of China
Science and technology have been highly valued in Chinese history. Recently, Jiang Zemin, president of China, said that the Chinese people have made great achievements in science and technology during its long history. Since the last years of the Ming Dynasty, China has fallen behind other countries, while science in the world has experienced great changes—from Newtonian Mechanics, Einstein theory to today’s Internet. Why is this the case? In short, the cause of the matter lies in the long period of the feudal rule in China. Repairing the Great Wall, prohibiting people from going overseas and then closing off the seacoast, Chinese feudal rulers shut the door of China. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government has paid great attention to the development of science and technology. Now, we are implementing the strategy of “Rejuvenating the country through science and education” to promote the nation’s construction and development.

The Chinese government will positively push forward global and regional cooperation for the research in science and industrialization of high technologies, for example, the establishment of Sino-Israeli and Sino-Australian cooperative foundations and Sino-APEC cooperative fund for science and technology. The government will not only urge the country’s scientists to participate in major international projects such as EU’s Fifth Framework Research Plan, take part in selected major international cooperative science projects, but will also invite foreign research institutes or scientists to take part in China’s basic and hi-tech researching plans.

According to Jiang Zemin, it is one of China’s strategic plans to promote the development of science and technology by building up major science facilities. A large number of such facilities have been completed in recent years, such as the electron-positron colliding instrument in Beijing, the heavy ion accelerator in Lanzhou and the cryogenic nuclear reactor at Tsinghua University. These facilities have strengthened science research in China and enabled people to explore the unknown world. Presently, a number of important facilities are under construction. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2006), the Chinese government will further strengthen the building of such facilities to enhance basic research abilities. China desires to expand corporation with other countries and to participate more in major international projects.

Jiang said that China will create more favorable research conditions for its scientists, encourage scientists to freely select research topics and establish a new mechanism which accords with the law of science. The government will continue to increase investment in basic research, and encourage localities, enterprises, various departments and private foundations to give more support to the research of basic science as well as encourage more extensive international exchanges and cooperation in the area of basic research.

Competition in science and technology is in essence the competition for talents. The Chinese government will continue its policy of “supporting students to study overseas, encouraging them to return and letting them decide for themselves whether to come or go”. From 1978 to 1999, overseas Chinese students numbered almost 320,000, twice more than the total number of overseas students during 1872-1978 (about 130,000). During the 20 years since the country introduced its opening-up program, China has received more than 340,000 students from over 160 countries and regions. Some 110,000 Chinese students have returned from overseas studies since 1978 and have played a positive role in their own areas of study and research. Now, there are many people who can’t return for various reasons. China understands their situation. The government is trying to make better conditions for their work and life upon return. For example, pioneering zones for returned scientists or students have been set up in many areas by the local governments. With the improvement of the conditions, more and more overseas students will come back after finishing their studies.

Internet has provided people with more information. The extra value of information lies in its nature of sharing and being open to all. There is a large number of Internet users in China, most of whom are young people of 24-35 in age. Not only young people in China, but young people, scholars or scientists of the whole world should make full use of Internet and other means of communication.

Intellectual property must be fully respected and protected. Meanwhile people should be good at protect their intellectual rights. International exchanges on the basis of mutual respect and equality and mutual benefit will do good to all parties concerned. As for generic resources, China issued in June 1998 the “Interim Supervisory Procedures on Human Generic Resources”, with the view of promoting international cooperation and exchange. Cooperation between scientists of China and other countries in this area is encouraged, while only commercial activities of collecting specimens and samples by a small number of people and companies in the name of research is restricted. In fact, cooperation between Chinese and foreign scientific research institutions has been going on smoothly since the “Interim Procedures” were promulgated.

(Xinhua News Agency, June 18, 2000)

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