China’s State Council issues guidelines to boost large-scale international science projects

According to Xinhua news agency, China’s State Council has issued a set of guidelines to encourage the launch of “big science” projects. The guidelines aim to establish landmark scientific projects that have international influence by 2050.

The term “big science projects” refers to large-scale international science collaboration projects featuring heavy investment, large number of researchers, advanced and sophisticated equipment and grand research goals.

Since China is keen to enhance its innovation competence and impact on a global level, it sees “big science” projects part of its scientific diplomacy to constructively aggregate resources, address key global scientific issues and construct a global innovation governance system.

According to the official press release by the State Council, China will play an active role in significant international scientific research projects, with efforts to focus on areas that "have the interest and attention of the international scientific community and are of great significance to the development of science and society”.

The short-term goal for the big science project plan is to cultivate 3 to 5 projects by 2020 and select and initiate 1 to 2 big science projects, then form a nascent mechanism of organising big science projects.

By 2050, a slew of such projects will be incubated, and China will play a big role in global scientific innovation governance system while continuing to make contributions to solving major global scientific issues.

To accomplish this, a strategic plan will be made to prioritize several subjects, such as evolution of the universe, climate change, health, energy, agriculture and information technology. Physical science, research on the evolution of the universe and the origin of life were specifically listed as priorities.

The set of guidelines calls on these government bodies and agencies to take the lead in launching as well as in participating in international big science research plans and projects, using domestic and overseas scientific resources.

The science projects will welcome investment from local governments, enterprises and international organisations. A supervision and assessment mechanism also will be established.

Also, the process involving project selecting, cultivation, proposing and implementation should be optimised. There also should be a management mechanism in compliance with the characteristics of scientific programs, with special scientific institutions taking charge of the projects’ development.

To build a talent pool, China also will give incentives to high-level professionals nationwide, and build a global recruitment system to attract top-level scientists and technical talent.The move will help pool top talents from across the globe and spawn leading scientists, as well as make China a country of innovators.

The set of guidelines issued by the State Council is distributed to ministries, provincial-level governments and other institutions of the State Council. Organisation tasks will fall in relative ministries and commissions, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The full version of the guidelines can be read here (Chinese only).

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