Science programs crucial to the development of medicine, industry, agriculture and transportation received official recognition on Monday at the State Science and Technology Awards.
President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other central government leaders turned out to honor 300 cutting edge projects at the ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
Among the innovations being celebrated was a new digital positioning system partly developed by the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The system, more accurate than conventional radar, has been adopted by Air China and other major airlines.
Chief scientist on the project Zhang Jun said: "It's such an honor and exciting for me to know that, after 10 years of effort, it has paid off both in terms of the system's commercial application and in recognition from central government and the general public."
The invention is key in making the increasingly busy skies safer for air traffic, Zhang's colleague, Jiang Zhiqiang, added.
Speaking at the ceremony, Wen extended his congratulations to the winning scientists and encouraged all China's inventors, researchers and developers to follow their example.
He also called on scientists to focus their sights on progressing technologies to solve the problems of development.
This included the need to use energy resources more efficiently, reverse the effects of pollution and protect the environment.
Advances could provide the basis for development that caters to the needs of the economy, society and nature, Wen said.
"Talent is the cornerstone of scientific progress … big scientific projects should involve a gathering of special talents," he added.
The awards are divided into five categories: the Supreme Science and Technology Awards, the Natural Science Awards, the Technological Invention Awards, the Technological Progress Awards, and the International Scientific Cooperation Awards.
Five foreign scientists were also honored with International Scientific Cooperation Awards this year for their work promoting scientific cooperation between China and other countries.
Daniel Vasella from Switzerland picked up an award for his work developing medicines for China's medical companies.
Kenneth W. Gentle from the US received recognition for his contribution to cooperation in nuclear fusion.
Italian Corrado Clini was honored for work on environmental development and the exploitation of solar and other energy resources.
Richard Chang from the US took an award for developing China's information industry.
And Kenji Ekuan from Japan, who has been active in improving China's production of electrical goods, also received an award.
Despite the large number of honors handed out, none of the programs were selected to win China's top science award, the Supreme Science and Technology Award, referred to by some as "China's Nobel Prize."
Insiders said projects recommended for the gong failed to meet the relevant high standards.
(China Daily March 29, 2005)