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On October 15, 2003, China made a successful launch of the "Shenzhou-5" manned spacecraft to make China the third country in the world with independent technology for manned space flight. Chinese scientists expect that China will launch its own Mars probe by the year 2020. The success of "Shenzhou-5" is a paramount example of the successful transfer of scientific and technological discoveries into actual productivity. In past 10 years, the Central Government has greatly increased its appropriation for science and technology, and its expenditures in scientific research and development. In 2003, the appropriation for science and technology reached 81.62 billion yuan, 16.1 percent higher than the previous year, and accounting for 3.7 percent of the total government expenditures; the government spent 152 billion yuan on scientific research and development, which was 18 percent higher than the previous year, accounting for 1.3 percent of the GDP, the highest in China's history, and in the front rank of the developing countries.


In 2003 research and development ("R&D") expenditure for the whole country reached 152.01 billion yuan (US$18.31 billion), up 18.1 per cent over 2002, accounting for 1.3 per cent of GDP. Of this total, 8.6 billion yuan (US$1.04 billion) was used for basic research. China had 28.344 million professionals and technicians of all specializations working in state-owned enterprises and institutions at the end of the year. China implemented 1,573 projects under the National Key Technologies R&D Program and 4,479 projects under the High-Tech R&D Program (863 Program). A total of 274 demonstration projects were launched for the industrialization of high-tech research outcomes, and another 15 major research projects for technical equipment were initiated in a rotating manner. The establishment of nine national engineering research centers, the initiation of 46 projects on updating key national laboratories and the designation of 302 national technical centers established in enterprises (groups) took place in 2003. A total of 29,870 scientific research results were achieved at and above provincial or ministerial level, including 2,029 accomplishments in basic research, 26,425 accomplishments in applied research and 1,416 accomplishments in soft science research. Around 308,000 patent applications were received from domestic and overseas applicants, while 182,000 patents were authorized, up 22.1 per cent and 37.6 per cent respectively. A total of 268,000 technology transfer contracts were signed, involving a transaction value of 108.27 billion yuan (US$13.04 billion), up by 22.5 per cent.


China's development of science and technology and its system of granting science and technology awards are supported by law under the basic Law on Progress of Science and Technology promulgated in July 1993. It stipulates the objectives, functions, sources of funds and system of rewards for the scientific and technological development. In 1998 and 2003, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress made inquiries into the enforcement of the law, and The Law on Popularization of Science and Technology promulgated in June 2002 further stipulates that it should be a societal goal to popularize science and technology and improve scientific knowledge of all citizens.

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