The Chinese government will inject at least 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) to support scientific and technological research in areas that are critical to the nation's sustainable development.
The Ministry of Science and Technology announced in Beijing on Wednesday that research programs focusing on population, resources and environmental issues would be conducted under a 2001-2010 Science and Technology Framework for Sustainable Development.
The new framework will guide the nation's science and technology sector to carry out strategic research, achieve breakthroughs in key technologies and speed up commercialization of research results.
"Through progress in science and technology and through innovation, we aim to integrate an increase in the nation's overall strength with the improvement in people's living standards and the creation of a sound ecological environment," said Li Xueyong, a vice minister of science and technology.
The central government had decided to invest 10 billion yuan in relevant research programs in the 2001-2005 period, hoping to inspire local governments and enterprises to put in more money and establish multiple fundraising channels, Li told a press conference.
The framework gives research and development priorities to 12 key areas including population control, prevention and treatment of major diseases, food safety, security of water resources, natural gas and oil resources, strategic mineral resources, clean energy and renewable energy, and pollution control.
China would face severe challenges in its quest for sustainable development in the coming decade due to some deep-rooted problems such as a huge population base, resources shortage and ecological degradation, Li said.
"Science and technology are needed to address those problems and challenges," he said, while acknowledging that the nation's capacity for technological innovation remains underdeveloped.
Under the framework, China's science and technology sector will be encouraged to boost basic research, to achieve major breakthroughs in high and new technology research, and to establish a group of engineering research centers and key labs.
Some projects will be launched to control water pollution, and explore large oil and natural gas fields during the 2001-2005 period.
Implementation of the framework will also help increase China’s efforts to tackle some global issues of sustainable development, such as climate change and the protection of the ozone layer.
(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2002)