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Nations strengthen scientific co-op
During the past two decades, the healthy development of Sino-Franco bilateral relations, scientific and technological collaboration has led to great strides being made across a wide range of fields.
The first agreement on scientific co-operation between the two countries dates back to 1978.
Since then, an increasing number of Sino-Franco scientific co-operation projects have been established.
Fast-growing development characterized the 1990s, partly due to the launch of the Advanced Research Programme (PRA), co-ordinated by the former Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Research.
More than 300 scientific projects have been carried out in the last 12 years, within the framework of the programme.
Scientific co-operation between France and China does indeed cover a large range of subjects.
One of the main aspects of the scientific co-operation was the launch of the Annee de la France en Chine marked by the opening of a medical science laboratory - the Pasteur Institute of Shanghai.
The research programme of the new laboratory, defined jointly by the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will focus on emergent viral diseases such as SARS, avian influenza, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, encephalitis and haemorrhagic fevers.
Initiated in 2002 with the Shanghai No 2 Medical University, the French-Chinese Pole of Life Science and Genomics have, on a number of occasions, collaborated on research in the areas of human genomics, infectious diseases, leukaemia therapy, traditional Chinese medicine, and so on.
In addition to the fields of biology and biotechnology, projects supported by the PRA concern environment, information technology, new materials and Earth sciences.
Joint laboratories based in China are a major part of the Franco-Sino co-operation. The first one was established in 1997 in Beijing.
Today, the LIAMA (Laboratory of Informatics, Automation and Applied Mathematics) has a team of 25 Chinese and French scientists and students working mainly on modelling issues related to biology, the environment and other fields.
Two other joint institutes, the French-Chinese Laboratory of Catalysis (LFCC) and the Laboratory of the Application of Superconductors and Magnetic Materials (LAS2M) were established in Liaoning's Dalian in 2000 and Shaanxi's Xi'an in 2003.
Space research is a major field of both the French and Chinese national research programmes.
France and China collaborate within the European Space Agency (ESA) to establish the CNSA geospace exploration programme Double Star to study solar activities.
Earth observation applied to natural risk prevention is another key area of co-operation, involving teams from the French Spatial Agency (CNES) and the National Remote Sensing Centre of China.
France supports a wide range of joint programmes.
Grants are offered to PhD students from science disciplines doing their thesis within France and China, in order to allow them to annually spend six-month periods in the French partner-laboratory, during their three years study period.
In 2004, more than 100 students have benefited from such grants.
More bilateral co-operation between China and France takes place within the multi-lateral frameworks of the EU-Chinese agreement and the programmes of international organizations.
This is even more true when considering programmes that require hefty investments.
One major example is the Global Navigation Satellite System, Galileo, scheduled to operate by 2008. China is the only non-European country involved.
In 2003, China joined the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project.
The purpose of ITER is to prove the feasibility of energy production by fusion of deuterium and tritium atoms.