China to invest more into basic research
A senior Chinese official said Thursday that the state will increase investment in basic research to such a level that the money used for basic sciences accounts for 20 percent of the state's total research and development expenditure.
At a meeting marking the 20th anniversary of establishment of state key laboratories and the fifth anniversary of kickoff of the national basic research and development plan, Cheng Jinpei, vice minister of science and technology, said that heavy and stable investment into basic scientific research is an important way for scientific advancement of many developed countries.
Statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the R&D expenditure in 2003 reached 153.96 billion yuan (18.6 billion US dollars), or 1.31 percent of the gross domestic product. The expenditure on basic research took up 5.7 percent of the total R&D funds.
The United States spent 20 percent of R&D funds into basic research in 2003, other statistics said.
While playing the role as the biggest investor in basic research, Cheng said, the central government should encourage state and private companies as well as individuals to fund scientific research.
Most basic scientific research tasks are taken by state key laboratories and research teams who are mandated to undertake projects under the national basic research and development plan.
Headed by the then State Commission of Planning in 1984, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education and the Chinese Academy of Sciences organized the state key laboratories, a mechanism copying from that in the US.
By 2003, said Cheng, who is responsible for planning basic research in the ministry, China had had 161 state key laboratories and six pilot ones, with more than 5,000 researchers and three billion yuan worth of research equipment. They obtain more than two billion yuan worth of research funds from ministries, foundations and overseas channels.
In 2003, the researchers working in the laboratories produced 7, 835 papers listed by the Scientific Citation Index, with an average annual increase of 25 percent from 1999.
The state science and technology leading group, under the baton of then Premier Li Peng, decided in its third plenary meeting in 1997 to allocate special funds into basic scientific research and launch the national basic research and development plan, or nicknamed the 973 Plan.
From 1998 to 2003, the state invested 3.3 billion yuan into 157 projects under the 973 Plan.
Scientists and technologists who worked for the 973 projects published 52,000 papers, including 22,000 in foreign science journals, on human genome, nano technology, brain study, paleontology chemistry and other fields.
Studying on those projects which are vital to the country's economy, security and social development, Cheng said, more and more leading scientists appeared.