China’s Economic Science Experiment

Posted on January 2, 2006  Comments (7)

The Great Chinese Experiment, Horace Freeland Judson, MIT Technology Review. China is betting its economic health on becoming a world leader in the sciences. But will it succeed? This long detailed article provides insight into the challenges, practices and potential for China’s economy and scientific innovation going forward.

“The major scientific program running right now in China is this one, called 97-3 Program,” Professor Cao said. “A major huge program to catch up with the scientific development of the whole world. Started in 1997, March. This program is for basic research. According to the needs of the nation.” Technological applications? Or basic science? “Both,” she said with a sharp nod. The goal is split in two? “Yes,” she said. “I think that the major scientific program is the whole-world program. Not just for China. The second is the urgent requirement for our country’s social and economic development.”

The 97-3 Program concentrates research in six areas, agricultural biotechnology, energy, informatics, natural resources and the environment, population and health, and materials science. Cao’s own concern is with population and health. In this area the research is divided into 20 fields. She took me through them with the aid of a 33-page position paper she had put together in anticipation of my visit. The list is diverse, the projects ambitious. Yet even the most basic research — in stem cells, for example — has been defined in terms of immediate applications.

Information on the China 973 basic research program from the Chinese government’s web site:

Stipulation and implementation of the 973 Program is an important decision of our country to carry out the two development strategies of ” Rejuvenating the country through science and technology ” and ” sustainable development”, as well as to further reinforce basic research and science and technology work. It is an important measure of our country to achieve the great objectives of China’s economic, scientific & technology, and social development by 2010-2050 , to upgrade the sustainable S & T innovative capabilities and to meet the challenges of the new century.

While the engineering credentials of China’s leadership is noted often, it is still interesting to note that China’s 9 senior government officials are all engineers. A Technocrat Riding a Wild Tiger:

When China’s leaders meet with Hu each week in Beijing’s government district, Zhongnanhai, they could spend hours discussing cables, switches, tool-making machines and control devices. That’s because every one of them has a degree in engineering. The president himself, the son of a tea merchant from Jiangsu Province, trained to build hydroelectric power stations, while the others hold degrees in electrical engineering, metallurgy and geology.

7 Responses to “China’s Economic Science Experiment”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Blog Archive » Another Article on Engineering Shortage?
    June 25th, 2006 @ 9:03 am

    “That will likely continue, but that share will fall even faster if the USA does not increase the number of engineers available for those jobs. Other countries are making significant investments to gain make sure they have a pool of such workers.”

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Engineering the Future Economy
    September 17th, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

    […] Today most nations, that have their act together, realize high tech jobs and a highly educated workforce are a huge key to economic success and they (governments often, but also companies, rich individuals and foundations) are taking action to position their country to do well. […]

  3. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Global Manufacturing Data by Country
    September 24th, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

    […] This data shows the United States manufacturing economy is continuing to grow and is solidly the largest manufacturing economy: which contradicts what many believe. It is true manufacturing jobs are decreasing in the United States and worldwide – China is losing far more manufacturing jobs than the USA. […]

  4. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » China’s Science and Technology Plan
    December 2nd, 2006 @ 10:38 am

    “China will invest 2.5% of its increasing gross domestic product in R&D by 2020, up from 1.34% in 2005″…

  5. Germany’s Science Chancellor
    January 28th, 2007 @ 7:19 pm

    “Angela Merkel, a physical chemist-turned-G8 leader, is putting science on the European and global agenda…”

  6. CuriousCat » Engineering Education Study Debate
    November 25th, 2007 @ 11:25 am

    As I have said many times the economic future will be greatly influenced by science and engineering. Those countries that succeed in creating a positive economic climate for science and engineering development will find economic rewards those that fail to do so will suffer…

  7. CuriousCat: Science and Engineering in Politics
    December 3rd, 2007 @ 8:26 pm

    If the science and engineering community are not well represented to our representatives the interests of the science and engineering community will get short changed…

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