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New Science Policy Welcomes Business

Businesses are to be more involved in scientific research thanks to changes sweeping through national science policy.

The changes will see science policy focus more on agriculture and public welfare, as well as paying more attention to basic research, a top science official said yesterday.

"The macro-administrative reform which marked last year will continue," Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua told a national science and technology working conference.

Agriculture, energy, the environment and health will take up 50 percent of the research and development (R&D) budget in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) 20 percent more than the previous plan, he said.

Industry's share will decrease from 70 to 50 percent.

Energy conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be the new beneficiaries of R&D funding, said the minister.

The ministry will shortly publish technology guidelines for energy conservation, and for the development of mineral resources and gas and oil drilling, he added.

This is the first time mineral resources have been included in national science plans, said Jiang Kaixi, vice-president of the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. The institute will be carrying out a national research project into the conservation and development of mineral resources over the next five years.

In the health sector, the focus of R&D will be on modernizing traditional Chinese medicine.

Basic research

Ten new national laboratories will be built to carry out research into fields China currently lacks the resources to investigate, said the minister.

In 2006 the ministry approved funding for 70 basic research projects, including four key research projects on protein engineering, quantum manipulation, nanotechnology and reproductive studies.

The four projects altogether are budgeted at 4 billion yuan (US$512.8 million) although the amount could rise if further funds are required.

In new branches of science such as molecular biology and nanotechnology, Chinese scientists are rapidly catching up with their foreign colleagues. Chinese scientists ranked second for the number of nanotechnology papers published in major international academic journals last year. Their number of biology papers ranked 6th.

National research centers will be built in major enterprises and funded by both companies and the government, said minister Xu.

Guo Qingcun, vice-president of home electronics producer Hisense Co Ltd, said the company already has a national research center for lightening equipment, with the government providing about one fourth of its funding.

(China Daily January 30, 2007)

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