The Chinese government on Wednesday honored 202 scholars at Beijing's Great Hall of the People in an annual ceremony to attract experts, especially from overseas, to serve the country.
State Councilor Chen Zhili issued letters of appointment as faculty members to 103 scholars and 99 more were engaged as chair professors of the Cheung Kong Scholars Program.
The program was jointly launched by the Education Ministry and the Li Ka Shing Foundation in 1998 with the categories of faculty member, chair professor and the Cheung Kong Achievement Award.
The program is designed to attract domestic and overseas scholars to participate in the development of China's higher education to enhance China's academic competitiveness globally.
Since its founding, 110 universities and colleges in China, including Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, have appointed 1,108 scholars, and 14 specialists have received the Cheung Kong Achievement Award.
The scholars have an average age of 42, and 94 percent have overseas study or working experience. All of the chair professors are working academics overseas.
"The program has encouraged thousands of world-recognized scholars in the past eight years," Chen said. "They have helped in enormous scientific achievements for China."
By the end of last year, 24 Cheung Kong scholars had been selected as members of the Chinese Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China's top scientific research institutes.
Through a rigorous selection process by fellow academics, professional experts and consultancy groups, four scholars received funding from the Cheung Kong Achievement Award in 2006.
Professor Zhang Yaping, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Professor Zhai Wanming, of the Southwest Jiaotong University, won the top prizes of the Cheung Kong Achievement Award worth 1 million yuan (US$125 thousand) each for their achievements in biological diversity and railway transportation respectively.
The second prizes with 500,000 yuan went to Professor Lu Yuming, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Professor Fang Jingyun, of Peking University.
(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2007)