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Riding the Tides An overview of China's International Science and Technology Cooperation
2004/06/09

Science and technology have long been the fruits of joint human efforts and exchanges. International science and technology have become phenomenal in the world with a new division of labor among countries.  China has worked well with foreign countries in mutual respect and benefits to promote the efforts, starting small from cooperation with Asia, central and east Europe, Former Soviet Union before 1978, and expanding the efforts to many other countries since 1978. For the past ten years, we have witnessed an especially dynamic period of all times.

A Global Perspective

China signed intergovernmental agreements to promote science and technology cooperation with 96 countries, extended technical exchanges to 152 countries and areas. Non-government cooperation has gone even farther beyond that. With our partners throughout the world, we explore opportunities in multi – dimensions and conduct cooperation not only through visits, conferences, exhibitions, but also through joint efforts in research, development, survey, operation of labs and institutes, joint ventures, consulting, attracting overseas brain powers back. The cooperation covers a wide range of subjects beyond basic researches and traditional technologies, goes into areas such as biotechnology, space, information, automation, new materials, and new energy. Chinese scientists have started to take part in some international mega-science projects and research programs sponsored by European Union.  

Chinese leaders give impressive supports to international science cooperation and promote its role in foreign relations. President Jiang presented three proposals in science and technology cooperation in the four APEC informal leaders meeting during 1994-1997. Since these proposals were well received by other leaders, science and technology has enriched the APEC cooperation and helped strengthen the relations between China and other APEC members.

A Practical Approach

China develops technology parks and venture service centers to foster high-tech industry. These parks and centers also serve as a window for our international cooperation. We named ten technology parks as APEC science and technology development zones launched eight international sciences and technology venture services centers. China's technology parks earned 11.9 billion US dollars for its imports only in 1999.

We attach greatest importance to the protection of Intellectual Property Rights to promote international cooperation. China reached agreements with the US in IPR in science cooperation in trade related intellectual property in April 1991 and Jan. 1992. We inserted IPR protection clauses in previously signed science cooperation agreements with Japan, Switzerland, Russia, European Union and other countries. The China amended a number of laws and administrative regulations to improve IPR protection.

International research institutes emerge from growing economic globalization and higher integration of science, technology and economy. It carries international science cooperation into depth. Since 1990, research institutes have been established in China by a number of multinational companies including IBM, Microsoft, Intel and many others from 14 foreign countries including US, Germany, Japan, covering electronics, communication, new material, biotechnology.

In 1994, the State Science and Technology Commission, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, State Economic and Trade Commission decided to join efforts to help optimize the composition of exportation, and launched an action plan to promote trade through technology application.  

Since the Environment and Development Forum in 1992, we paid special attention to international cooperation in environment science and technology cooperation. The Chinese Academy of Sciences works with Japan's science and technology agency and eight research institutes, four universities to conduct joint researches in fighting desertification. Hundreds of people have been working in the joint endeavor.  

Venture Drive and Attracting Overseas Brain Powers

Since opening up, China sent 320 thousand people to study abroad, 110 thousand of them came back. Some 30 technology parks in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Suzhou, Xi'an and other cities built venture parks specifically for attracting overseas students. 500 enterprises are growing in incubators with the contribution of thousands of people coming back from overseas.

Many policies are adopted to create a freer and conducive environment for overseas students. CAS survey of 90 institutes shows that, since 1990, returned overseas students blazed trails in 184 new disciplines. 530 students become academic leaders in their fields. Half of CAS institutes are headed by 219 returned overseas students. Data from Ministry of Education also shows that half of university presidents, academicians, directors of key labs, advisors for Ph.D. candidates have overseas study experience. Ministry of Health's survey shows one third of WHO scholarship winners have been awarded with special honors by the government.

International science and technology cooperation is playing a glowingly important role in our development. China will further intensify its efforts in promoting international cooperation and help its political, economic, and social development in the worldwide tide of globalization.

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