China Focus: China intensifies support for basic research


BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- China will intensify support for basic research and aim for more breakthroughs in the area, a Chinese official said on Wednesday.

Research is key to a country's scientific and technological innovation ability, and China will give higher priority to basic research and its applications, Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, told a press conference.

"We will pay more attention to original innovations and combine basic research with economic and social development as well as industrial applications," Wang said.

China has rolled out a series of official guidelines to strengthen basic research and promote the reform of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

China has issued a plan to set up 13 national applied mathematics centers in Beijing, Shanghai, and other places. Several basic research projects have been deployed in key areas such as quantum science, stem cells, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology.

Wang said China made a number of groundbreaking scientific achievements with international influence in areas such as iron-based superconductors, quantum entanglement and key distribution, brain-like chips, and graphene research.

Through government support and coordination of enterprises and social entities, China has substantially increased funding for basic research. China's investment in basic research increased from 71.6 billion yuan (about 10.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015 to 133.56 billion yuan in 2019, with an average annual growth rate of 16.9 percent, much higher than that of the spending on research and development (R&D). In 2019, the spending on basic research accounted for six percent of the total R&D spending, a record high in history.

China has deployed and built a number of major science and technology infrastructures, such as the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and the Spallation Neutron Source.

China has established 20 national scientific data centers, 31 national biological germplasm and experimental material resource banks, and 98 national field scientific observation and research stations to promote the open sharing of scientific research facilities and instruments. More than 101,000 sets of large-scale scientific instruments and 80 major scientific research infrastructures have been incorporated into the open and shared network.

Wang said China will optimize investment structures and increase long-term and stable support for basic research and interdisciplinary research.

"We will also provide better services for scientific researchers so that they can devote themselves wholeheartedly to research and blaze new trails," Wang said.

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