Global talent and collaboration key to future science development, experts say

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2019-01-29

Interdisciplinary talents and international cooperation are key to China's future science and technology development, said experts at a consultation symposium organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Friday.

More than 40 foreign experts gathered at the symposium to share their experience on working with China, and to offer policy recommendations to Chinese decision-makers.

The foreign experts, who come from various countries, have been engaged in a wide range of studies together with their Chinese counterparts in a number of academic institutions and companies across China.

At least 50 policy recommendations have been given to China's top authorities, covering areas including renewable energy, smart cities, climate change, education, urbanization and public services, and will serve as references to scientific decision-making.

Regardless of different research interests, many experts have stressed the importance of attracting more global talents as well as forging interdisciplinary abilities.

Vladimir Terzija, a professor from the University of Manchester, said having more international exchange programs is a good way to help bridge countries and continents, and invite more exchange of innovative ideas.

More information about Chinese culture such as painting, music and famous ancient philosophy might also help support and retain potential excellent foreign experts.

"We need to find out optimal mechanisms for collaborations with foreign experts — the mechanisms through which the mutual trust will be built through learning from each other, and also through mutual respect of traditions, history and culture," said Terzija.

Jeffrey Lehman, executive vice-president of the New York University Shanghai, said interdisciplinary education is needed at the moment to generate future groundbreaking scientists as China heads toward an innovation economy.

"What is most important is that one has an undergraduate experience that is both broad and deep, one that builds up an inventory of intellectual experiences, nurtures intellectual curiosity and rigor, and rewards critical thinking, disagreement with accepted wisdom and risk taking," said Lehman.

Other experts have also shared advice on driving China's innovation development by improving the academic evaluation system and setting up mechanisms that help translate basic research for the industrial world.

Xia Mingjiu, member of the CPC leading group at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said it is of great value that the foreign experts have observed China's development and analyzed the challenges from the Western perspective.

"The proposed solutions can help policy makers overcome the challenges, and their constructive and practical recommendations are important sources of information for the government to formulate evidence based policies," said Xia.

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