China's scientific research system is a cooperative one between the Chinese Academy of Sciences, schools of higher learning, industrial departments, national defense departments and local scientific research institutes. The over 160 national scientific and academic organizations affiliated with the China Association for Science and Technology, as well as their branches in various large and medium-sized cities, are also important forces in scientific and technological research.
The Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Sciences is China's highest academic institute and comprehensive research center in natural sciences. Its academic divisions include mathematics and physics, chemistry, physio-geography and biology carried out in more than 100 research institutes throughout China. In the next decade, the CAS plans to found about 80 national research institutes specializing in scientific and technological innovation. CAS academician is the highest, permanent academic title the government can grant in science and technology. There are 688 CAS academicians, including 58 elected in 2003, whose average age at 58.86 made it the youngest group ever. The two youngest academicians elected in 2003 were 37 years old.
The Chinese Academy of Engineering is the national highest honorary, consultative institute in engineering science and technology, conducting strategic study of the state's important issues in engineering science and technology, providing consultation for decision-making, and devoted to promotion of the development of engineering science and technology. There are 663 CAE academicians, including 62 elected in 2003.