China's R&D push observed in US

By Al Killeffer (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-16 06:43

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: There is a lot going on at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, most of which one would not expect to find at the heart of one of the world's most successful companies.

With employees riding cycles, playing beach volleyball and admiring the campus' T-Rex skeleton, virtually anything could be happening at any given time.

No surprise then that last Tuesday, the company played host to a special event: The Rise of Research and Development in China, sponsored by the National Committee on US-China Relations.

The evening's program was part of the committee's China Town Hall, a nationwide event covering 30 cities across America designed to stimulate dialogue about China in communities throughout the country.

In Mountain View, the event was also sponsored locally by Bridge to Asia (BTA), a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that seeks to address the dire need for English-language books in university libraries throughout China and Southeast Asia.

Following an introduction from BTA vice-president Newton Liu, keynote speaker Denis Simon took the stage. Provost of the Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute at the State University of New York in New York City and an expert on technological development in China, Simon's message was clear.

"China no longer is happy simply being the 'factory to the world'," he said. "It is now trying to become a knowledge creator."

Pointing out that intellectual capital is increasingly the most valuable thing in the world economy, Simon explained that China recognizes it must become a major player in the R&D industry if it ever hopes to become a true world power.

To that end, Simon noted, the Communist Party of China has already taken a step forward in appointing Wan Gang as the nation's new minister of science and technology. The choice of Wan, a longtime Audi engineer and a non-Communist Party member, highlights the government's commitment to improving the country's R&D sector, Simon said.

"Over the next 10 to 20 years, we're going to see what I would call some 'pockets of excellence'," Simon said, referring to the emergence of industrial areas in China with world-class capabilities.

For his part, Simon believes nanotechnology is one of the fields in which the Chinese may make such strides.

(China Daily 06/16/2007 page2)

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