Funds for scientific promotion insufficient
China has been gaining international recognition for its scientific research thanks to significant government investment, though authorities seem not as generous in promoting science to the general public.
Survey results released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Science and Technology show that last year, special government funding for science promotion was 4.63 yuan ($0.67) per capita, a 0.05 yuan drop from the previous year.
"When we talk about the special fund, we are referring to the financial allocations aside from infrastructure spending, such as the cost of building science and technology museums. As the infrastructure projects can last for a few years after one-time funding, excluding it will ensure the continuity of the data," said Qiu Chengli, a researcher at the Ministry of Science and Technology's Department of Policies, Regulation and Supervision.
The fund is mainly spent on sponsoring government organs or semiofficial organs to carry out science promotion projects such as publishing books, holding lectures and organizing exhibitions.
"There has been momentum growth in the past five years, and we have reason to expect more government support in the coming few years," he said.
The total financial budget for science promotion in 2010 was 6.81 billion yuan, which was increased to 10.67 billion yuan last year, according to the ministry.
Regional disparity in science promotion is also significant. In 2014, for example, per capita spending was 69.72 yuan in Shanghai and 46.01 yuan in Beijing, while in less-developed provinces like Jilin it was only 0.36 yuan per person.
"The amount spent on science promotion is surprisingly low, but I think new media can fill the gap," said Huang Yongming, a science writer and the head of the science journalism lab under The Intellectual, a new media science communication platform in China.
"It has been demonstrated by the past decades of practice that private capital has better vigor in science promotion," he said.
Huang suggested the government encourage private capital to get involved in promoting science, while maintaining supervision to prevent the public being misled.
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