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Development   Major Achievements    High and New Technology   China's Top Ten Science and Technology Achievements in 1999
Strategy of Rejuvenating the Nation by Relying on Science and Education     Science and Technology System       Social Sciences



In 1949, there were no more than 50,000 scientific and technical personnel in China, of whom just over 500 were engaged in scientific research, and there were only 40-odd scientific research institutions. However, just one month after the founding of the PRC, the Chinese Academy of Sciences was established. Thereafter, a wide-ranging group of research institutes was established covering various industrial sectors nationwide. By 1955, a total of 840 scientific and technological research institutes had been set up, and the number of scientific and technical personnel had increased to over 400,000.

In 1956, the State Council set up the Science Planning Commission, which started to work out the first long-term program, the 12-Year Program for Scientific and Technological Development (1956-67). Many items of new technology were developed, and many new industries and enterprises emerged, one after the other, and grew steadily.

In October 1964, China successfully conducted its first nuclear test, which showed the high level of attainments of Chinese scientific and technical personnel, that China’s science and technology in these fields had reached fairly high levels and that China basically had the capability to conduct advanced scientific research independently.

However, during the “cultural revolution” (1966 to 1976), China’s vigorously developing scientific and technical undertakings were seriously damaged, and scientific and technical work was paralyzed. After the ten-year chaos, the state transferred its focus of work to the modernization drive. Within a fairly short period of time, a group of academic, scientific and technological administration and scientific research institutes were restored or reestablished. The State Science and Technology Commission took charge of working out a new program-the National Compendium on Scientific and Technological Development (1978-1985) (Draft). In the Compendium, from the major projects, eight comprehensive areas of research were singled out as the key ones. The eight areas of research are agriculture, energy, materials, computers, lasers, space science, high-energy physics and genetic engineering. According to statistics, the main scientific and technological achievements of 1979 were greater than those of the previous ten years.

In 1995, the National Science and Technology Conference was held, and China began to carry out the development strategy of “rejuvenating the nation by relying on science and education.” In the 20 years since 1980, China’s science and technology undertakings, aiming at the world’s advanced levels, have developed rapidly along a wholesome road and made the following striking achievements: 1) Solving a batch of key technical problems arising in the course of national economic construction; 2) Making considerable progress in high-tech research and the industrial application of new and high technologies; 3) Attaining marked successes in transferring scientific and technological findings to production; 4) Gradually deepening the reform of the overall scientific and technological system; 5) Contributing to international progress in research into basic science; 6) Continuously expanding the scope of opening science and technology to the outside world; 7) Basically setting up a team of trans-century scientific and technical workers; and 8) Continuously improving the system of scientific and technological laws, rules and regulations.

During half a century of development, a large number of outstanding Chinese scientific and technical experts have created wealth for the country by applying their wisdom and talents. Of them, the most notable representatives are Li Siguang, who helped China remove the label of being an oil-poor country; Qian Xuesen, who was the “father of Chinese missile”; Qian Sanqiang, who took charge of establishing the Institute of Atomic Energy; Tang Aoqing, who was the pioneer of quantum chemistry in China; Yan Longping, who made great contributions to developing hybrid rice; and Wang Xuan, who is leading the technical revolution in the Chinese newspaper and printing industries.

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Major Achievements

During the past 50 years, China has made remarkable achievements in the fields of science and technology, as follows :

The discovery of the Daqing Oilfield
In 1953, the leading geologist Li Siguang, based on his geomechanics theory and thorough geological investigation, pointed out that China had abundant oil and gas resources. In the morning of September 26, 1959, oil was extracted near Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province. Through the painstaking efforts of oil workers, it took only three years to construct the Daqing Oilfield, which soon reached the advanced world level, with an annual output of more than 50 million tons of crude oil. The Daqing Oilfield provided valuable experiences for the further development of the Chinese petroleum industry.

The building of the first atomic reactor
On June 30, 1958, China built her first heavy-water reactor and circular accelerator. This atomic reactor had a thermal power of 7,000-10,000 kw, and its circular accelerator could accelerate alpha particles, making its energy output reach 25,000,000 EV. In December 1980, China built a high-flux atomic reactor, indicating that Chinese nuclear technology had reached the advanced world level.

The successful testing of atom and hydrogen bombs
On October 16, 1964, China successfully detonated an atomic bomb in Lop Nor in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, thus becoming the third country to possess the atom bomb, following the United States and the former Soviet Union. In June 1967, China successfully detonated its first hydrogen bomb.

The synthesis of crystalline insulin
After six years of arduous work, in cooperation with other research units, the Biochemistry Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on September 17, 1965, synthesized crystalline bovine insulin, a bioactive protein. China thus became a world leader in this research field.

The positron and negatron electronic collider
In October 1988, the Beijing Positron-Negatron Electronic Collider was successfully installed, not only to develop scientific research in particle physics, energy, materials, biology, chemistry and integrated circuits, but also to produce products for export.

Nuclear power stations
In 1970, China began to design its first nuclear power station, the Qinshan Nuclear Power Station, in Haiyan County, Zhejiang Province. The first-stage project of this power station, with an installed capacity of 300,000 kw, began to be constructed at the beginning of 1985. Meanwhile, construction began on the Dayawan Nuclear Power Station, 60 km east of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, with an installed capacity of 1,800,000 kw.

Carrier rockets
In May 1980, China successfully launched a carrier rocket to a predetermined area in the Pacific Ocean, which was the first time for China to launch a rocket to land in international waters from its territory. In 1982, a China-made rocket passed its first space flight test, thus making China the fourth country to possess new-type space microthrust rocket engines, following the United States, the former Soviet Union and Japan. In October 1982, China successfully launched a carrier rocket from a submerged submarine, and in September 1988, from a nuclear submarine. Chinese carrier rockets include the Long March carrier rockets and the “Storm I” carrier rocket.

Satellite launching technology
On April 24, 1970, the China-made “Long March I” carrier rocket successfully took the “Dongfanghong I,” China’s first man-made satellite, into orbit. This made China the fifth country in the world able to independently develop and launch man-made satellites, following the former Soviet Union, the United States, France and Japan. Later, China successfully developed and launched scientific experimental satellites, retrievable satellites and stationary communication satellites, mastering the advanced techniques of satellite retrieval and multiple satellite launching with a single carrier rocket and synchro-positioning technology. On April 7, 1990, at the Xichang Satellite Launching Center, the “Long March III” carrier rocket successfully launched “Asia I,” the first foreign satellite launched by China, marking the entry of China-made satellites into the international market.

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High and New Techology

Since March 1986, China has been taking steps to implement the State High-Tech Research and Development Plan, sometimes referred to as the “863 Plan,” the first intermediate- and long-term plan combining military and civilian production in China. The major task of this plan is to develop, on a large scale, biology, space, information, laser, automation, energy, new materials and oceanology technology in an organized and planned way. Since the implementation of this plan, China has gradually perfected a high-tech research and development strategy in conformity with the Chinese situation.

The “Spark Program”-Formally implemented in 1986, the major task of the “Spark Program” is to rejuvenate the rural economy by relying on science and technology, popularize advanced and applicable scientific and technological findings in the rural areas and lead the township enterprises to develop in a healthy way. This plan places great stress on the industries closely related to people’s livelihood. The resources advantages of the rural areas are turned into economic advantages by utilizing science and technology. The demonstration projects promote the development of crop cultivation, animal husbandry, aquaculture and the processing of agricultural and sideline products. A large number of vegetable, fruit, poultry and eggs, and aquatic product bases have been established, and advanced breeding and cultivation techniques have been popularized. This plan has not only aroused the farmers’ enthusiasm for production, but also enriched the urban dwellers’ "vegetable baskets” and “rice bags.” The “Spark Program” has also made efforts to relieve poverty in rural areas. It has organized demonstrations of scientific and technical projects in ten typical mountain areas, and comprehensively developed and utilized resources to tackle the problems of food and clothing of the local people.

The “Torch Program” -In 1988, China launched the “Torch Program,” which is intended to put results of research in new and advanced technology into use in production. Since the implementation of the program, nearly 100 service centers to help people start businesses have been set up in 53 state-level new and advanced technology development zones. In 1997, the State Science Commission approved the establishment of the first group of such state-level centers. These so-called “incubator” institutes have played an important role in accelerating the transfer of results of research in new and advanced technology into production, and fostering new and advanced technology enterprises and entrepreneurs.

High and New Technology Development Zones In 1998, there were 16,097 enterprises in the high and new technology development zones, employing 1.74 million persons. These enterprises had earned a total of nearly 484 billion yuan from the fields of technology, industry and trade, and chalked up a total output value of 433.4 billion yuan, and 8.5 billion US dollars in export earnings. The Beijing, Suzhou, Hefei and Xi’an high and new technology development zones have been nominated as special zones open to the member countries of APEC.

The “Scaling Heights Program” Formally implemented in 1992, this is a program aimed at promoting the state’s key basic research projects, by strengthening the state’s support for basic research and giving an impetus to its sustained and steady development. For several years running, the “Scaling Heights Program” has made some prominent achievements. Among them, the research work of the “Theory and Practice of Large-Scale Science and Engineering Calculation” project in symplectic geometry has been highly praised by famous scholars and experts worldwide. It sparked a series of related research projects around the world and has been successfully applied to research in celestial mechanics, molecular dynamics and aerophysics. As a result, it won a top state prize for natural sciences in 1997. The “Machine Authentication and Application” project is considered a milestone in the field of automatic inference by experts.

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China's Top Ten Science and Technology Achievements in 1999

1. China’s first experimental manned spaceship made a successful maiden flight.
At 6: 30 on November 20, 1999, China’s first experimental manned spaceship, the “Shenzhou,” was launched at the newly-built space launching site in the China Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center. This was China’s first manned spaceship flight test, marking a new major breakthrough in China’s manned space technology. The experimental spaceship and the new-type rocket launched this time were independently developed by China.

2. Great progress was made in the study of hydrogen storage nanometer carbon tubes.
The advanced carbon materials research group, led by Cheng Huiming of the Metals Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, launched China’s first experimental research project into the characteristics of hydrogen storage using one-dimensional nanometer carbon material, and produced a large amount of nanometer carbon fiber storing a greater quantity of hydrogen. At the beginning of 1999, the group did research into the preparation of the single-wall nanometer carbon tube and hydrogen storage. The group cooperated with China’s National Key Laboratory for Rapid Solidification of Non-balanced Alloys and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of the United States, and, by means of the unusual plasma hydrogen electric arc, semi-continuously produced a large quantity of high-purity single-wall nanometer carbon tubes, the diameters of which averaged 1.85 nanometers. This type of single-wall nanometer carbon tube with its broad diameter can store a great deal of hydrogen at room temperature after proper treatment.

3. Chinese scientists found “all-time low ozone” high above the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Using data from satellite sensing and a field survey, Chinese scientists have procured a surprise finding that high above the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau exists “all-time low ozone” in summer. Experts hold that this is another major scientific discovery since the ozone cavity over the South Pole was discovered in 1985, and that it has drawn wide attention from science and technology circles worldwide.

4. Oldest-known vertebrate fossils found in China.
The fossilized Kunming fish and Haikou fish, found by Prof. Shu Degan, head of the Research Institute of Early Life of Northwest University, and his collegues, and the fossilized Haikou insect, discovered by a research group led by Chen Junyuan, a research fellow of the Nanjing Institute of Geological Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, are the oldest vertebrates in the world discovered so far. They can be traced back 530 million years, according to textual research. These fossils were discovered in the stratum of the early Cambrian Period, which dates back 530 million years, in Haikou District, Kunming City, Yunnan Province. The discovery of these fossils not only reveals a complete picture of the emergence of life in the Cambrian Period, it also provides reliable evidence for the origin of vertebrates and their important organs. These discoveries will help to rewrite the history of the origin of vertebrates. s

5. Chronoclines of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties inferred.
Chinese scholars have concluded that the demarcation lines between the Xia and Shang dynasties and between the Shang and Zhou dynasties range from 1600 B.C. to 1500 B.C., and from 1050 B.C. to 1020 B.C., respectively.

6. China made great achievements in its first scientific investigation of the North Pole.
China made its first scientific investigation of the North Pole from July to September, 1999. For the first time, the Chinese government directly organized this large-scale comprehensive scientific investigation of the North Pole, and for the first time China’s scientific research ship made a voyage to the Arctic Ocean.

This investigation into the North Pole is another breakthrough in China’s polar investigations, which have been continuing for the past 15 years. It makes China one of the few countries to have made investigations of both the North and South poles. A series of significant achievements were made during this investigation.

7. China bred the first transgene calf.
The Shanghai Institute of Medical Genetics successfully bred China’s first test-tube transgene calf by means of its newly invented technology which had already produced a transgene sheep. The institute’s specialists simultaneously discovered a new method of greatly raising the gene expression level, so that the proteins of pharmaceuticals contained in the milk of transgene animals could increase by more than 30 times. The test-tube transgene calf, named “Taotao,” was born on February 19, 1999, weighing 38 kg. According to an examination, it carries in its body the genes of human protein transplanted by scientific research personnel of the institute.

8. China successfully launched its first earth resources satellite.
At 11:16 on October 14, 1999, China successfully launched into the expected orbit the “Resource No. 1” earth resources remote sensing satellite jointly developed by China and Brazil, along with a small Brazilian auxiliary scientific applications satellite.

After it is put into use, the “Resource No. 1” satellite will transmit remote-sensing image information about visible light, and multispectral, short-wavelength and thermal infrared waves to China, Brazil and other countries and regions capable of receiving the information.

9. China’s scientists successfully cloned giant panda embryos.
The Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Fuzhou Giant Panda Research Center jointly cloned a batch of early panda embryos for the first time in the world by means of transplanting panda cells into an enucleated rabbit ovum. This is a manifestation of the fact that China has once again ranked itself among the world’s foremost nations in giant panda research.

10. China’s research into and development of human blood substitutes has reached the internationally advanced level.
According to the “March 1986 Program” of the Chinese government, research into and development of human blood substitutes was selected as a major project in the nation’s biological endeavors. The Beijing Kaizheng Bioengineering Development Company did research into blood substitutes by using animal hemoglobin as stroma, opened up a technical route with independent intellectual property rights, successfully transformed animal hemoglobin into a safe and effective human blood substitute, and secured three key technical patents. Research in this field has reached the advanced level among similar international research efforts. Efforts are being made to apply the findings to commercial and industrial use.

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Strategy of Rejuvenating the Nation by Relying on Science and Education

Since 1979, Chinese economy has developed at an impressive rate. However, this growth has depended on extensive development propelled by resources, capital and cheap labor. The period from now to the middle of the 21st century is a key historical period for realizing the three-step strategic objectives of the country’s modernization drive. Only by relying on scientific and technological progress can a sustained, rapid and sound development of the national economy be realized. In this way, many problems can be effectively solved, e.g., the irrational industrial structure, backward technological level, low labor productivity and low quality of economic growth, thus accelerating the strategic shift of national economic growth from the extensive to the intensive mode. Therefore, in 1995 China decided to carry out the strategy of rejuvenating the nation by relying on science and education.

The main contents of the strategy are: Under the guidance of the idea that science and technology are the No. 1 productive forces and sticking to the principle that education is the foundation of the nation, giving priority to science, technology and education in economic and social development; strengthening the national capabilities in science and technology and the ability to transfer scientific and technological findings into actual productivity; improving the quality of the whole nation in the spheres of science, technology and culture; setting economic construction on the road to relying on scientific and technological progress and the improvement of the quality of the workforce; and accelerating the pace toward the realization of national prosperity.

The strategy of rejuvenating the nation by relying on science and education raises the following requirements regarding the objectives of China’s scientific and technological development :

Objectives to be achieved by the year 2000: Basically establishing a scientific and technological system that fits in with the socialist market economy system and the law of the development of science and technology; making considerable progress in scientific research and technological development in industry and agriculture, basic research and high-tech research; markedly improving the contribution rate of science and technology to economic development; and moving economic construction and social development basically in the direction of relying on scientific and technological progress, and improving the quality of the workforce.

Strategic objectives to be achieved by the year 2010: Solidifying and improving the newly established scientific and technological system, and organically combining science and technology with the economy; making scientific and technological undertakings prosper and fostering a high-quality team of gifted scientists and technicians; enhancing by a large margin the quality of the whole nation in the fields of science, technology and culture; spurring the scientific and technological strength of the major disciplines and some high-tech areas to approach or reach the advanced world level; substantially raising the ability of scientific and technical personnel to innovate independently, and mastering the key technology and system design technology of important industries; and striving to make production technology in major fields approach or achieve the level of the developed countries. In addition, the production technology level of some new industries will reach the advanced world level, laying a solid foundation for building China into a modern and strong socialist country.

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Science and Technology System

The science and technology research bodies in China consist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, research organizations functioning under departments of the State Council and the local governments, research organizations operating under institutions of higher learning, research organizations run by industrial enterprises, and national defense research organizations. The close cooperation and coordination among various research organizations, each sharing an appropriate part of the research work, forms a nationwide scientific and technological research system. There are also over 160 national scientific and technological academic organizations under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Science and Technology Association, with branches in large and medium-sized cities.

With its headquarters in Beijing, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is the paramount academic organ and comprehensive research center in the natural sciences. It has departments of mathematics and physics, chemistry, earth sciences, biology and technology. It has 123 research institutes, employing over 60,000 scientific and technical personnel. Research organs attached to the Chinese Academy of Sciences are located throughout the country, and branch academies have been established in provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities where research organs are concentrated. The Chinese Academy of Sciences selects its 630 academicians, including 156 reputable academicians and 36 female academicians, from among high-level scientists, professors and engineers who have made significant contributions in their fields. The Academicians General Meeting is the supreme state consultative organ on science and technology.

The Chinese Academy of Engineering, founded in June 1994, is the most respected and highest academic advisory institution in China’s engineering community. It currently has 439 academicians, including seven members from overseas.

The State Natural Science Foundation Committee was established in February 1986, with the approval of the State Council. Its task is to render assistance to basic research projects and some applied research projects with funds allocated from the state treasury according to the state’s guiding principles for the development of science and technology. The Committee has subsidized more than 40,000 projects in the field of natural science. In the past decade and more, the Committee of the present (fourth) term has 26.

members, including 18 academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences or the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The National Committee for Scientific and Technological Awards (NCSTA) was founded in December 1999, with the approval of the State Council. The principal duties of the NCSTA are to macroscopically control and direct awards for science and technology; organize the National Appraisal Committee for Scientific and Technological Awards by engaging relevant specialists and scholars; pass resolutions on award-winners, and the types and levels of the awards, and make policy-related suggestions for perfecting the presentation of the awards; and study and tackle other major problems concerning the national appraisal of the awards.

The prize-winning projects for 1999 were announced on January 20, 2000. The first prizes for both natural science and technological inventions were left unclaimed. The “FBC-1 Fighter Bomber” and the “New-Style Missile Destroyer” won special-grade prizes for scientific and technological progress. In addition, awards for 602 projects were decided on through discussion, and four people won Awards of the People’s Republic of China for International Cooperation in Science and Technology. The prize-winning projects are indicative of the great attention paid by the whole of Chinese society to the comprehensive use of resources and the protection of ecological balance. Young science and technology workers are also coming into their own rapidly, with researchers under 45 years of age accounting for 46.5 per cent of the prize winners.

In the 1980s, the core of the scientific and technological system reform in China was to establish a new system beneficial to economic development, to solve the chronic problem of technology being divorced from the economy. In the 1990s, the science and technology system reform continued to make progress in redirecting human resources and adjusting its structure. After more than 20 years of reform, the unilateral and closed planned management system has been abolished, and the situation of science and technology being divorced from the economy has been remedied to some extent. The socialist market economy system has begun to play a basic role in scientific and technological operations and the distribution of scientific and technological resources. Most technological development institutes have taken the path of operating according to the market mechanism, gearing to the needs of economic construction and developing on their own, and most of the nation’s scientific and technological forces have entered the major battlefields of economic construction in various ways. This scientific and technological progress has been playing an increasingly important role in promoting economic development and the transfer of the mode of economic growth. The micro-operational mechanism of science and technology research institutes is being transferred to a path of development that fits in with the characteristics and new forms of scientific and technological work.

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Social Sciences

The social science research bodies in China consist of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, local academies of social sciences, institutions of higher learning, research units under the Party schools and governmental departments, and research units under the armed forces. There are some 100,000 persons engaged in the various fields of the social sciences.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is the highest academic institution and a comprehensive research center for the social sciences in China. The Academy has more than 30 research institutes and some research centers. It has a galaxy of experts and scholars specializing in various fields, and some 4,000 research, editing and translation personnel, of whom nearly 200 are tutors of doctoral candidates.

In recent years, local research institutions in the social sciences have expanded their activities considerably. Research institutions in the social sciences of different sizes have been established in various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

The various departments of the social sciences and the humanities in the institutions of higher learning are important research bases for the social sciences in China. They employ more than 60,000 teachers, of whom many do research work in addition to teaching. Besides, there are many special research institutes attached to the institutions of higher learning. There are about 130 institutes concerned with the social sciences in China, employing more than 4,000 professional researchers.

Furthermore, the governmental departments at various levels, Party schools, military colleges and universities, cadre schools, enterprises and institutions also have some smaller-scale social science research organizations and personnel, a by no means negligible research force.

Centering on the establishment of socialist theory and a socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics, Chinese social science workers have conducted research in depth, proceeding from combining theory with practice, and attained many useful achievements. Breakthroughs have been made in forecasts of the national economy and social development, and suggestions have been put forward for solving the theoretical and practical problems in the building of democracy and the legal system. Prominent achievements have been made in basic research, and a batch of treatises of a high academic level have been published.

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