More than 60,000 foreign scientists come to China every year and 80,000 Chinese scientists go abroad, contributing to a dynamic international scientific and technological exchange system.
"These foreigners are helping China solve a lot of crucial problems, which used to be bottlenecks in the country's technological development," said Shang Yong, China's vice-minister of Science and Technology yesterday.
Meanwhile, Chinese scientists educated abroad have become the cornerstone in the country's scientific establishment. More than 80 percent of academicians at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have studied abroad, according to statistics released yesterday by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The foreign scientists have been most active in areas such as renewable energy development, resource management, environmental protection and agricultural technology improvement, according to the vice-minister.
For example, a dozen geologists and seismologists from the United States are currently working with their Chinese colleagues around the country to build a nationwide earthquake monitoring system.
The new system, which will forecast earthquakes with great accuracy and provide timely information online, has included nine Chinese cities and is adding Lhasa, capital of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, into its coverage.
China has signed agreements with 26 countries to carry out joint research into traditional Chinese medicine since expressing its commitment to international co-operation in this field in July.
According to Shang, Chinese and foreign scientists are sharing the intellectual property rights of core technologies in most of these projects.
"China will seek international co-operation in many more fields of scientific research in the next five years," he said. "The country needs thousands and thousands of scientists from abroad, both Chinese and foreign."
Chinese scientists have returned home attracted by cutting-edge scientific and technological development projects, many of them are international co-operation projects.
Statistics from the ministry indicate that about 580,000 Chinese have been abroad to study since the 1980s, and more than 100,000 have returned.
These scientists with an international background are the leading force in the country's technological advance, according to Jin Xiaoming, director of the ministry's bureau of international co-operation.
They made up 73 percent of the winners of the National Natural Science Awards and 94 percent of the project managers aged below 45 at China's scientific research institutions.
(China Daily November 29, 2006)