Why China hasn't produced Nobel Prize winners in science

By Cai Wenjun and Liang Yiwen
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, November 22, 2012
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 [By Zhou Tao/Shanghai Daily]

 [By Zhou Tao/Shanghai Daily]

While Japan was celebrating its 20th winner of the Nobel Prize in October, this time in medicine for stem cell research, China celebrated its first Nobel for literature won by a resident of the Chinese mainland,Mo Yan.

But although Chinese living abroad have won Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry and medicine, not one scientist working on the mainland has won or shared the award in physics, chemistry or medicine.

Experts said the reasons China doesn't hold a science Nobel are complicated. They include the exam-oriented education system, the network for scientific research and development, the evaluation system for scientists and their research, the way research grants are awarded, and the government's attitude toward scientific research.

Pushing too hard

Dr Wang Mingwei, director of the Chinese National Compound Library, said China is in too big a hurry to demonstrate it has joined the international ranks of achievers in all fields and that it is bigger and better in everything.

"Both the government and the public are pushing scientists too much and they are viewing international prizes like Nobel Prize as the only criteria to evaluate scientists and their work," Wang told Shanghai Daily.

"No Nobel winners set winning the Nobel Prize as the goal for their work," he said. "Their dedication, passion and interest in scientific research drives them to work hard and achieve the kind of results that are recognized by the Nobel Prize."

Wang's opinion is shared by Oliver Smithies, a British-born American geneticist who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with an American and Briton for development of gene targeting in mice.

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