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China / Innovation

Tianjin meeting a hotbed of scientific exchange

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-18 23:41

While top scientists from developing countries attend the General Meeting of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World in Tianjin, scientific exchanges are in full swing outside the conference room.

For example, 15 scientists and government officials from a number of countries including Tanzania, Kenya and Egypt attend a workshop on water quality monitoring in Nanjing, discussing ecosystem management experiences that could be replicated from China to Africa.

This is only a small part of the workshops sponsored by China.

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, China hosted 310 science and technology workshops and sponsored more than 5,700 scientist and officials from developing countries between 2001 and 2010, mainly to provide training in advanced technologies in agriculture, medical treatment, clean energy and other fields.

As its technological abilities grow, China is strengthening its international science and technology cooperation with other developing countries.

"China seen rapid S&T development in recent years, and our international influence is increasing as well, especially in research fields like neutrino oscillation, quantum information, nanotechnology and stem cell studies. China is already playing the leading role.

"So it is fair to say that China leads the S&T forefront among developing countries," said Bai Chunli, president of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China had 1.42 million people engaged in research and development by 2010, had published 836,300 international papers from 2001 to 2011, and in 2010 filed for 293,066 patents, more than any other country in the world.

In 2009, the central government launched the China-Africa Science and Technology Partnership Program, which "sets a good example for China helping developing countries improve technological capabilities", said Jin Xiaoming, director of the international cooperation department of the Ministry of Science and Technology, at a press conference.

"I have been very impressed by the expertise and commitment of Chinese scientists, and this gives me a lot of confidence that very significant achievements will be made," said Henry Mwima, Executive Director of the Lake Tanganyika Authority.

Lake Tanganyika — which is shared by Burundi, the Democratic Republic Congo, Tanzania and Zambia — is the largest rift lake in central Africa and is famous for its biodiversity.

However, it is also one of the most fragile ecosystems in the region, thanks to the increasing population, pollution and inadequate awareness of environmental protection and climate change.

In 2011, under the United Nations Environment Programme, the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology was selected as the lead agency in an initiative to develop sustainable use of the lake's water resources.

In addition to donating equipment, Chinese scientists provided on-job training and made expeditions in the Malagarasi River watershed to collect real-time data during a visit to a partner organization, the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute.

Ismael Kimirei, director of the Kigoma Center at that institute, said China has a larger role to play in environmental protection research.

"China has very good potential to become the giant in environmental research, especially in Africa, where sustainable environmental monitoring is precarious. And so far, China has started and is walking in the right direction," he said.

"China should also continue training African scientist in the field and aim at making the program sustainable. It is through sustainable transfer of knowledge and technology that the long-term goal of the current cooperation will be achieved."

Contact the writer at chengyingqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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