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Science and Technology Development in China

1. China's Science and Technology Management System
National Steering Group on Science, Technology and Education was found in 1998 with Premier Zhu Rongji being its Group leader. Major terms of reference of the Group are: study and review national development strategy and major policies of science, technology and education; discuss and review significant S&T and education tasks and programs; coordinate important relationships related to science, technology and education between different governmental departments and between central government and local governments.

Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), is a central government agency under the State Council and it is responsible for the nation's science and technology activities.

Departments of Science and Technology of various ministries and administrative agencies are responsible for its science and technology activities. 

Science and Technology Departments or Bureaus in the local governments are responsible for its science and technology activities. 

There are six main R&D resources in China:

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  •  R&D institutions under the various ministries and administrative agencies
  • Industrial enterprises
  • Universities and colleges
  • Local R&D institutions
  •  R&D institutions affiliated to defense
2. Main Decisions on Science and Technology
3. Major Laws and Regulations Concerning Science and Technology Activities
4. Science and Technology Indicators (not including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) 
  •  National S&T financing indicators (1995-1998)
  1995 1996 1997 1998
National S&T financing (100 million Yuan)  962.5 1043.2 1181.9 1289.8
National S&T expenditure (100 million Yuan) 845.2 930.7 1063.1 1128.5
Govt. S&T appropriation (100 million Yuan)  302.4 352.6  408.1 466.5
    As percentage of total govt. expenditure 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.3
GERD* (100 million yuan)  349.1 404.8 481.9 551.1
    As percentage of GDP 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.69

GERD*: Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D

As shown by Statistical Bulletin on Investment in S&T in 1998, last year had witnessed a steady growth of China's S&T budget in the gradually deepened course of S&T system reform. The financial input from the central authorities in S&T activities has been further enhanced with increased enterprises' awareness of investment in R&D of new products. Compared with last year, however, the growth rate of S&T input at local governmental level has dropped and the increase of R&D expenditures was slowed down.

In 1998 S&T budget collected in the country has reached RMB 128.98 billion, RMB 10.79 billion (9.1%) more than that of last year; per capita S&T budget in the country went up by RMB 7.7 Yuan than last year at RMB 103.3 Yuan. In view of financial sources, the growth rate of funds collected by implementing bodies went faster with a proportion of 50.8% of the total budget collected, 6.2% more than last year; the proportion of governmental financial support and bank loans were 27.4% and 13.3% of the total respectively, about the same with that of last year. As shown by preliminary statistics, S&T investment by the national financial has reached RMB 46.65 billion, RMB 5.76 billion (14.1%) up than last year; the said S&T investment is proportioned 4.3% of the total national financial expenditures, basically at the same level of last year. S&T investment from central authority sources has seen a faster growth with 10.2% in the total central financial expenditures; S&T investment by local authorities has been slowed down with a proportion of 1.9% in the local total. 

The total expenditure of S&T funds in the whole year amounted to RMB 112.85 billion, RMB 6.33 billion (5.9%) more than last year. Calculated by the number of personnel engaged in the S&T activities, per capita S&T fund expenditure reached RMB 44000, RMB 4000 more than last year. The S&T expenditures from implementing bodies such as enterprises, R&D institutions and higher learning institutions reached RMB 53.23 billion, 48.49 billion, 7.32 billion respectively with corresponding growth rates at 8.2%, 2.7% and 16.1%. Their corresponding proportion in the total S&T expenditure were 47.2%, 43% and 6.5% respectively. Being one of the main bodies of S&T investment, large and medium industrial enterprises have maintained a steady growth of their S&T budget with the total amounting to RMB 47.87 billion in the year, RMB 4.03 billion (9.2%) up than last year.

The total expenditure in R&D development of the whole year were RMB 55.11 billion, RMB 4.19 billion (8.2%) up than last year with a proportion of 0.69% in the nation's GDP, a bit higher than that of last year. Per capita R&D budget calculated on personnel engaged in R&D activities were RMB 73000 yuan, RMB 12000 yuan more than last year. In terms of classified research types, the budget for basic research grew slowly with a decrease for applied research against last year and an increase for experimental development.

  • National S&T personnel indicators (1995-1997)
  1995 1996 1997
Personnel engaged in S&T activities (thousand) 2624.7 2903.2 2885.7
    Scientists and Engineers (thousand) 1553.9 1687.8 1665.6
    R&D personnel (FTE* in 1000)    806.8 834.4
    Scientists and Engineers (FTE in 1000)   547.8 590.6
    S/E** engaged in R&D per 10000 labor force   7.9 8.4

FTE*: Full-time Equivalent
S/E**: Scientists and Engineers

  • National S&T output indicators (1995-1997)
  1995 1996 1997
Number of patent applications (case) 83045 102735 114208
S&T papers catalogued by SCI?ISTP and EI* 26395 27569 35311
Exports of high-tech products (US$100 million) 100.9 76.8 96.9
    As percentage of total industrial manuf. exports 7.9  5.9 6.1

* SCI-Science Citation Index, ISTP-Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings, EI-Engineering Index

The survey results on Chinese S&T papers published and quoted both domestically and internationally (not including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) in 1998 were publicized. Results have shown that in 1998 China had witnessed its 35003 S&T papers published internationally, 2.4% of the total Chinese papers published (1421520). As a result, China jumps to the 9th place after US, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia. 

The number of Chinese S&T papers quoted internationally has gone up from 9952 to 11549 papers and times quoted from 18434 to 21511 times. The said statistics on papers published internationally came out of three renowned international retrieval indicators, SCI, EI and ISTP, and domestic papers from 1286 national major S&T journals published in 1998.

In 1998 Chinese S&T personnel published 133341 papers in domestic journals, 3.8% up than that of last year. The areas enjoying most papers published are Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu, the universities are Nanjing University, Beijing University and China S&T University.

The annually increased Chinese S&T papers published and upgraded position have reflected the bumper harvest of basic studies in the nation. Journals collected by SCI has gone up from 9 to 11 with the ones collected by EI reaching as many as 90. The development has not only shown the increasing number of papers published but also more attention attached to by major international retrieval systems.

5. Reforms of the R&D Management System
A major S&T reform plan was approved by China's State Council for the implementation. According to this reform plan, 242 research institutions subordinated to 10 governmental agencies under the jurisdiction of National Economy and Trade Commission, in accordance with detailed requirements of industrialization while taking into account their own conditions, shall select their own reform approaches including spinning off into S&T related enterprises, being wholly or partially merged into enterprises or becoming technical service and intermediary firms. A limited number of research institutions who are approved to maintain their existing structures shall also introduce the operational mechanism of S&T enterprises. Research institutions who are required to restructure will work upon the new mechanism starting from July 1st, 1999.

As required by senior officials of State Council, heads of these 242 institutions attended a discussion meeting jointly held by Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and State Economy and Trade Commission. The major purpose of the meeting is to promote the smooth restructuring of these institutions and accelerate their industrialization.

To ensure the smooth restructuring, a number of favorable policies have been worked out in addition to detailed implementation plan. After restructuring, state budget will be made available as before so as to address social security issues such as pension of retired employees. Starting from 1999, the restructured institutions will enjoy exemption of industrial income tax, business tax for technology transfer and land use tax for structural development on their own land in a period of five years. They are also allowed to enjoy import and export rights for their own manufactured goods and state preferential treatment for S&T enterprises, national research programs or projects bidding and other rights enjoyed by similar research institutions.

6. Major Scientific and Technology Achievements
Since the implementation of its S&T blueprint for the 9th Five-Year Plan, China has seen concentrated efforts on tackling a number of key technologies and major progress or remarkable achievements in the first three years.

It is reported that 240 projects and 3600 dedicated topics centering around agriculture, basic industries, pillar industries, high tech industries and social sustainable development were defined by the blueprint with participants of 70000 person-time and a total estimated budget of RMB 19 billion, of which RMB 5 billion comes from state appropriations. During the first three years of the 9th Five-Year Plan period, the state has allocated RMB 3.2 billion for the implementation of blueprint, 65% of the total budget expected from the state.

As shown by the mid-term projects inspection and individual major projects appraisal, 90% of the dedicated topics have reached their phased targets on time or in advance with 42% of them reaching international advanced level and an increasing number of projects being directly translated into products for enhanced economic benefits. According to the statistics on 98 projects, the first three years have registered an increased output value of RMB 31.33 billion, net profits of RMB 3.16 billion, paid tax of RMB 540 million and export volume of US$330 million.

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