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Scientists Lead State Research Projects
The Ministry of Science and Technology has appointed another 40 chief scientists to work on large-scale science and technology research projects under a State-supported strategic plan.

The scientists will work on 26 basic research projects related to agriculture, energy, population and health issues, and material and information technology.

At a ceremony in Beijing at the weekend, the ministry handed letters of appointment to the scientists.

The new batch means that 175 chief scientists have been part of the research task force, which China began in 1998 to strengthen its fundamental research.

To date, the central government has poured 2.5 billion yuan (US$301 million) into 108 national projects involved in the blueprint.

The plan aims to attract a team of prestigious scientists to carry out basic research essential to the State's interest and needs.

The ministry received 125 project ideas from scientists across the nation this year, and approved 26 after strict appraisals by an authorized group of experts.

Three of the projects are related to agriculture.

Cheng Jinpei, vice-minister of science and technology, said the projects will be particularly useful now that China is in the World Trade Organization.

"Membership (of the WTO) has a great impact on the agricultural industry, to which we should pay more attention," Cheng told the ceremony.

Three chief scientists and their teams, as well as the ministries of education and agriculture, are involved in research into hybrid seeds, fertilizers and transgenetic engineering, Cheng said. "A spirit of teamwork is important for the plan because most research is interdisciplinary."

Cheng said the scientists need to study hard to keep abreast of developments in the rest of the world.

China still lags behind some developed countries in basic research in terms of achievements and investment.

(China Daily December 30, 2002)

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