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Science and Technology Programs in China

 1. The National Program for Key Science & Technology Projects
First started in 1982, the "National Program for Key Science & Technology Projects" is critical component of the Five-Year Plans for the national economic and social development. It is updated every five years and submitted for approval by the National People's Congress.

Its strategic objectives are: to find solutions to the scientific and technological bottlenecks in the medium and long-term national economic and social development; promote the modernization of traditional industries and the optimization of industrial structures; support development of high technology and its industrialization; improve the quality of national economic development and people's life; and enhance the nation's S&T capacity. 

Its major contents are: in accordance with the international trend of development and taking the factors of scientific, economic and social development into account, to carry out study and research on key S&T issues based on the principle of S&T pioneering; to concentrate efforts and the nation's resources in personnel and materials on issues tackling major S&T snags encountered in the nation's economic construction and social development.

The Program is funded by the government and supplemented by financial inputs for different industrial sectors and institutions. The government investments are in three types: completely free support, partially free support, and loans.

2. National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 Program) 
In March of 1986, four eminent Chinese scientists urged the initiation of a new national high technology program (also referred to as 863 Program) ( The guiding principles and objectives are limited targets, striving for breakthroughs in defined priorities, rapidly formulating high-tech industries in areas where China has advantages, closing the gap between China and developed countries in high technology, and enhancing the overall capacity of the nation.

The Program has set eight fields as priorities: biotechnology, space technology, information technology, lasers, automation technology, energy technology, advanced materials technology and marine technology.

The financial support required for the Program mainly comes from special government appropriations.

3. National Program for Key Basic Research Projects (namely the Climbing Program)
The Program was initiated in 1991. Its objectives are: to carry out high-level research on key scientific issues which are critical and of overall importance to the scientific and technological, economic and social development of the country, therefore to make significant contributions to the science and technology development of the world and the social program in our country; to train and bring up young talents in basic research and strive to build up bodies of excellence in scientific research.

The Program covers seven branches of basic research and eight branches of applied basic research fields: mathematics, physics, chemistry, mechanics, astronomy, geography, biology; energy, materials, information and computer, basic agronomy, basic medical sciences, resource and environment, space science and engineering science.

Funding required for the Program is provided by the government.

4. The Spark Program
Approved by the State Council in 1986, the Spark Program is the nation's first guided development program designed to develop the rural economy through science and technology.

Its long term development objectives are: to induce the rural economy in the direction of relying on scientific and technological progress and on improved labor performance; to realize a socialist modern rural society which is better-off in materials, cultural activities developed, flourishing in public services, achieving a synchronized development both in material life and in morality.

Its priorities are to develop regional pillar industries in rural areas and to establish spark-intensive areas in conjunction with the construction of small cities and towns.

Its financial resources mainly come from bank loans, self-raised by enterprises and the public, with some seed money from the State. Projects listed in the program are entitled to favorable bank loans and preferential taxation policies.

5. The Torch Program
The Torch Program was initiated in 1988. Its objectives are: to realize guiding principle of "develop high technology and realize its industrialization", to create an optimized environment, therefore to guide and organize the scientific and technological manpower to serve the economic development; to promote the commercialization, of the results of high and new technology, the industrialization of high and new technology products, and the globalization of high-tech industries; to establish High and Emerging Technology Industry Development Zones; to coordinate the implementation of the projects under the Torch Program, and to develop a pool of work force for implementing the Torch Program.

Its financial resource is mainly raise from the public with support of start-up funds from the State. New product projects listed in the Program are entitled to priority in getting bank loans and to preferential taxation policies over a specified period of time.

The creation of High and Emerging Technology Industry Development Zones represents a major thrust of the Torch Program. Thus far, the central government has approved 53 such zones at the national level, resulting in clusters of burgeoning high and new technology industries in the coastal, frontier, border and inland cities all over the country.

There are 53 zones: Beijing, Wuhan, Nanjing, Shenyang, Tianjin, Xian, Chengdu, Weihai, Zhongshan, Changchun, Harbin, Changsha, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hefei, Zhongqing, Hangzhou, Guilin, Zhengzhou, Lanzhou, Shijiazhuang, Jinan, Shanghai, Dalian, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hannan, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Fushan, Huizhou, Zhuhai, Qingdao, Weifang, Zibo, Kunming, Guiyang, Nanchang, Taiyuan, Nanning, Urumchi, Baotou, Xiangfan, Zhuzhou, Luoyang, Daqing, Baoji, Jilin, Mianyang, Baoding, Anshan, Yantai.

6. The National S&T Achievements Dissemination Program
The Program was initiated in 1990. Its objectives are: to inject advanced, appreciate, mature S&T achievements into the nation's economic and social development in a well organized and planned fashion while creating a favorable environment and conditions; to mobilize S&T personnel and forces from the whole society into the implementation of the Program so as to generate benefits in large scale and promote the sustained and coordinated economic and social development and a close link between S&T and economy.

Its financial resources come from loans, investments, and funds raised by enterprises and the public as well as start-up money provided by the government.

7. The S&T Program for Social Development
The term of the Program is from 1996-2010. Its objectives are: to improve the quality of people's life and enhance the quality of the general public; to improve the living environment of the people and coordinate the relationship between human and nature; to promote the scientific and technological progress in social undertakings and related industries; and to promote the implementation of sustainable development strategy.

Its priorities include: to promote the implementation of China's Agenda 21 through scientific and technology progress; to provide guidance and coordinate the S&T activities in the main areas of social development; to facilitate the development of S&T industries in such fields as medicine, environmental protection, and housing construction; to support a number of S&T research projects of great significance to the nation's social development; to arrange for batch of key applied basic research and high and new technology development projects; to establish several emerging industrial development bases and industrial parks for social development; to establish a number of comprehensive experimental zones for social development and to promote the sustainable development in communities.

Its financial resources come from loans, financial inputs from various sectors, self-raised by enterprises and the public, government appropriations and international aid.
8. National New Products Program
The Program is a government-policy-supported program put forward by the Ministry of Science and Technology with the purposes of guiding and encouraging enterprises and research institutes to accelerate technical progress and promote the capacity of technical innovation, carry out optimization of industrial structure and adjustment of product structure, facilitate the development and industrialization of high and new technology products that have a high economic competitiveness and big market share.

The priority fields to be supported by the Program:
  • High and new technology products, including those of micro-electronics and electronic information, space science and aviation and space flight technologies; photoelectric science and opto-mechano-electronics integration technologies; life science and bio-engineering technologies; material science and material technologies; energy science and new energy and high efficiency energy saving technologies; ecological science and environmental protection technologies; geosciences and ocean engineering technologies; elementary substance science and radiation technologies; medical science and bio-medical engineering; and other high and new technology products;
  • New products produced by use of the achievements of the state and provincial and ministry scientific and technological program, in particular those with a major promoting function for the basic and mainstay industries of the national economy;
  • New products with self-owned intellectual property rights;
  • New products that are aimed at export or can replace import products, or produced with imported technologies with over 80% of the parts domestically made;
  • New products that adopt international standards.

The Certificate of National New Product for the products included in the Program will be issued. The government provides preferential policies of tax reduction or exemption in a certain period to the products of the Nation New Products Program. The state selects key ones from the products in the Program and provides a proper amount of subsidy from financial appropriation. 

9. Program on the Construction of National Key Laboratories
The Program was launched in 1984. Focusing on the S&T reserves for long-term development, it aims at supporting the study and exploration in basic research, applied basic research and high technology through S&T capacity building. It is supposed to create a favorable environment for bringing up senior S&T personnel and stabilizing S&T research contingents. Under the Program, a number of laboratories have been built and equipped with facilities of world level in some higher education institutes and research organizations by the state, in selected scientific disciplines and emerging cross-section fields and in a planned and stage-by-stage way. By now, the construction of 153 key laboratories has been completed and put into operation, with total investment of RMB 1.4 billion Yuan.
10.  Innovation Funds for Small and Medium S&T Enterprises
The Innovation Fund for small technology-based firms (STF) is a government special fund that was set up upon the approval of the State Council to support technology innovation. By ways of appropriation, loan interest subsidy and equity investment etc., the fund is aimed at supporting and encouraging technology innovation activities of STF, facilitating transformation of scientific research achievement, fostering a batch of STF with Chinese characteristics and expediting the industrialization of high and new technology industry. The fund will surely play an active role in optimizing the industry and product mix, expanding internal market demand, creating new jobs and promoting health stable and rapid development of national economy.

As a special fund of Central Government, The Innovation Fund for STF will be managed and operated according to objective laws of market economy to support STF with various ownership; lure effectively investment from local governments, enterprises, venture capital firms and financial institution; promote gradually the establishment of investment mechanism for high and new technology industrialization conforming to objective laws of market economy; further optimize technology investment resources and build up an environment conductive to innovation and development of STF.   

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