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The Ministry of Science and Technology
People's Republic of China


N0.247 January 20,2001
    * China's Shenzhou II Launched
    * Scientists confirm that the 40cm long world's smallest 
      dinosaur could perch in the trees
    * S&T Agreements between China and Hundred Others 
    * China's Human Organ Cloning
    * New Breakthroughs in Solar Cells
    * China's Genetic Chip Telling Bacterial Infections
    * China's Nanometer Cable

China's Shenzhou II Launched

At 01:00 January 10, 2001 Beijing time, a China-made unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou (Divine Ship) II was launched from Jiuquan-based satellite launching center and was accurately positioned in the present orbit in ten minutes. The said flight is the second of its kind in China, marking the new progress in China's manned space exploration activities and another major step towards manned space flight.

Equipped with three compartments for orbiting, returning and propelling and basic technical configurations similar to that of manned spacecraft, Shenzhou II is an unmanned space vehicle with newly expanded system structures and improved technical performance against its predecessor Shenzhou I. The said spacecraft is scheduled to return to the earth once its space exploration mission is completed.

During the flight, scientific experiments on life science, space materials, space astronomy and physics and microgravity will be conducted.

Long-March 2F that sent Shenzhou II into space is the newly developed tied-up carrier rocket of large thrusting power dedicated to China's manned space activities. In addition to the further improvement of the reliability of its body structure, driving system, control system and remote control system, the so-called error detecting system has been installed aboard so as to improve the security of future manned flight.

Scientists confirm that the 40cm
long world's smallest dinosaur
could perch in the trees


The world's smallest adult dinosaur has recently been discovered by Xu Xing, Zhou Zhonghe and Wang Xiaolin at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. They reported their find in the 7th December 2000 issue of the British journal Nature. Science magazine of the United States also published news about the story during the same week.

The 40 centimeter long dinosaur was collected from the Early Cretaceous deposits in Chaoyang, western Liaoning Province. According to Xu Xing, this dinosaur, which was named Microraptor, is a close relative of Velociraptor of the famous movie "Jurassic Park". By comparing the sizes of some of the body parts, they found that it represents the smallest known adult dinosaur in the world. More surprisingly, they discovered that the foot structure of Microraptor shows that it not only could run as many small sized theropod dinosaurs but also possessed the arboreal capability. In other words, this dinosaur could probably perch in the trees. This conclusion provides important information for the study of the long-standing controversial issue of the origin of the flight of birds. This is the first fossil evidence directly supporting the arboreal hypothesis of the origin of avian flight.

According to Xu and his colleagues, among the known theropod dinosaurs, Microraptor is morphologically most similar to birds. In the past several years, many feathered dinosaurs have been discovered from western Liaoning, they include Sinosauropteryx, Protopteryx, Caudipteryx, Beipiaosaurus and Sinornithosaurus. Based on their study, Sinosauropteryx is most primitive and most remotely related to birds among the known feathered dinosaurs; Beipiaosaurus and Caudipteryx are closer to birds, and Sinosauropteryx and Microraptor are the closest relatives of birds. In many characters it is hardly possible to distinguish them from the most primitive bird Archaeopteryx.

The 8th December 2000 issue of the American journal Science also reported
another important discovery by Chinese scientists. Zhang Fucheng and Zhou Zhonghe, also at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that they discovered the most primitive enantiornithine bird. They named the bird Protopteryx as it also preserved a feather type that has never been reported before. The discovery sheds new light on the origin and early evolution of feathers. The tail feather of Protopteryx is anintermediate form between the reptilian scales and typical feathers of modern birds. Based on their study, Zhang and Zhou proposed four evolutionary stages for
the early evolution of feathers: first, the scales are elongated, then the scales are thickened in the middle and the rachis appeared, in the next stage the feather is branched into barbs, and finally the barbules and barbicels appeared as in typical modern feathers.

S&T Agreements between China and Hundred Others

As was disclosed by the 7th National Conference on International S&T Cooperation convened on December 25th 2000, recent years have witnessed outstanding achievements on China's international S&T cooperation. Up to date, China has made S&T exchanges with 152 countries or regions and signed inter-governmental S&T cooperation agreements with 96 countries. The approaches and contents of the said exchanges and cooperations have been expanded from the traditional reciprocal visits, participation in academic meetings, seminars and hosting exhibitions to new collaboration modes such as collaborative research, design, surveys and experiment, information and resources sharing, and joint development, production and investment. The areas enjoying these cooperations and exchanges have also been extended from traditional technologies and basic studies to cutting edge fields such
as biology, space, information, automation, laser, advanced materials and new energy.

Fruitful China-UK Energy Cooperation


Launched in 1996 with the joint financial support from both Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of International Development of British Government (British side donated 990,000 sterling pounds), the so-called Guizhou Energy Cooperation Program has selected Guizhou Dazhong Rubber Co. Ltd., Guizhou Waterfall Beer Group, Guizhou Special Steel Co. Ltd. and Guizhou Shuitian Coal Factory as the energy efficiency demonstration sites. Up to date, the projects under the program such as 10-ton industrial boiler upgrading, comprehensive energy management, the improvement of compressed air system, transformation of air heater's frequency control of motor speed have seen the completion. One-year trial operation and testing have shown remarkable results of energy efficiency and environmental protection. Upon the implementation of the project at Guizhou Waterfall Beer Group, the heat efficiency of the factory's boilers has gone up by 20% and pollution down nearly 50%. There were 300 and more Chinese and British experts involved in the project. Many technical results derived from the project have found extensive applications among Guizhou based enterprises.

China's Human Organ Cloning

Pei Xuetao,a Chinese scientist studying stem cells disclosed on January 8, 2001 that the research team led by him had cloned human tissues with stem cell techniques and his team would soon go into human organ cloning. Pei expressed that Chinese scientists observe the internationally acknowledged norms for no-human-being-cloning, though human organ cloning has become an orientation encouraged by in ternational S&T communities. Up to date, the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences have cloned human bones, blood, nerves and skins outside the human body. In the near future, it will dive into more sophisticated cloning such as blood vessel, esophagus and bladder. If the experiment goes smoothly, Chinese scientists will be able to clone the human organs that may replace the damaged ones in human body.

It is reported that China has so far mastered the techniques of separating, purifying, freezing and recovering the stem cells of umbilical blood. Experts wish they may create a sample bank storing 50,000 to 100,000 stem cells of umbilical blood by 2002, the largest one in the world so as to provide stem cell transplanting for the Chinese of similar genetic properties all over the world.

New Breakthroughs in Solar Cells

Possessing independent intellectual property rights and capable of an annual out put of 2 megawatts crystal silicon solar cells, the key facilities and the associated assembly lines developed by the researchers of Shanghai Communication University have turned out series of products ranging from 10 to 125 watts in the half-year trial production. The 125w solar photovoltaic cell component is the largest of its kind in the country. In the meanwhile, the assembly line has turned out large solar glass panel made of transparent crystal silicon with strong competitiveness against its imported counterparts on a mass scale. As it has been tested by the national authorities in charge, the products' average photoelectric
conversion rate is higher than 12%, reaching the internationally advanced level of similar products.

It is briefed that the said result has imposed positive impacts on west China and become popular among herdsmen and is expected to play a major role in supplementing the optical fiber cable and photo-wind system in Inner Mongolia.

Internationally Advanced Nanometer Tube Molding


The research team headed by Prof. Li Hulin of Chemistry Dept. of Lanzhou University have recently worked out nanometer carbon tube arrays of high orientation from a multi-hole alumina molding plate. The development has made China reach the internationally advanced level in molding plate-based nanometer carbon tube making.

Prof. Li Hulin and his team have since 1995 tracked the international frontier on the preparation of multi-hole alumina molding plate with electrochemical approach. They produced the nanometer carbon tube arrays of even structure and orderly sequence with the said molding plate. This time they have turned out the nanometer carbon tube array membrane of high orientation on the same plate which is featured with simpler technique, lower costs and better repetition for extensive growth against the ones from the multi-hole silicon molding plate. It is also be lieved to be a piece of important good news for the basic and applied studies of nanometer carbon tubes.

China's High Performance Computer of 450 Billion Points


Shanghai University has recently unveiled its high performance computation system named Ziqiang 2000. The peak speed of the said system has reached 450 billion floating points per second, ranking the top among the existent China-made massive high performance computer systems.

It took one year for the project team headed by Li Sanli, an academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and Dean of Computer School of Shanghai University to work out Ziqaing 2000. Serving mainly for scientific studies and engineering computation of civil sectors, the system is not only of fine price competitiveness but also of fine expansion capacity with its current price being only one third of that sold at the international market.

The system has been connected to Tsinghua University's THNPSC-2 through the Internet, constituting an advanced computer-based experimental infrastructure between Shanghai and Beijing.

China Decoded Dysentery Genes First


Chinese scientists announced on December 25, 2000 that they had for the first time in the world decoded the genetic secrets of dysentery bacilli.
The so-called Fu's 2A dysentery bacilli are believed to be the major killers causing millions of Chinese population in fected with dysentery. In the next phase, Chinese scientists will work on the functional genes so as to develop dysentery vaccines and related medicines.

It is reported that Fu's 2A dysentery genome are made of 4.65 million and more base pairs with its total length ranking in the third place among the microbe genomes discovered so far in the world. Headed by Jin Qi, chief scientist for National Major Basic Studies Project, the Microbe Genome Research Center of Ministry of Health has in collaboration with Beijing Microbe Genome Research Center and Northern Research Center of National Human Genome, completed the sequencing, analyzing and interfacing of 60 million base pairs in a period of less than one year. The said result is the first of its kind publicized by China to the world community and also the largest living creatures sequenced genetically by China.  

Jin Qi briefed that the reasons behind choosing Fu's 2A dysentery bacilli are because the disease is an epidemic recorded heavy attacks on Chinese population with Fu's 2A dysentery bacilli as the major contributor and 95% of the clinically separated dysentery bacilli have developed resistance with Fu's 2A in particular. Thanks to the studies of the said bacilli, scientists are now able to know the fatal mechanism and drug resistance of dysentery bacilli and work out better vaccine and drugs. In addition to its applications to dysentery treatment, the studies have proven helpful to treating other diseases as well for the bacilli may also invade other parts of human body such as intestinal membrane. The new drug will work in the principle of removing the diseased part and thus making it a carrier conducting further treatment inside human bodies.

China's Genetic Chip Telling Bacterial Infections


The so-called Genetic Chip Diagnosing System for General Bacterial Infections, acollaborative project between Beijing Microbe Research Institute and Harbin Jitai Biochips Development Co. has passed experts' verification check. By taking advantage of the characteristic that genetic dual spiral structures act like zips, scientists have divided the known bacterial genes into separate zips and then made the same treatment of the bacterial genes to be tested before hybridizing the two. If the two find successful zipping together, they will be confirmed as the same bacteria. It will take 30 days to find out the respiratory infection by traditional diagnosing approaches while 5 hours to get the same result by using genetic chips.

Using a hybrid result to identify multiple bacteria in a fast and accurate manner has achieved a breakthrough against the traditional case-by-case approaches and made new diagnosing means available for clinic studies. The new result has shown a bright perspective by not only saving the time for rescuing patients' life but also saving the treatment costs.

In the next phase, the researchers are striving for the objectives testing their sensitivity to antibodies, gene separation, augmentation, sample processing, marking and sequencing in addition to diagnosing with a single chip and making it a well functioned mini chip lab.

China's Nanometer Cable

The study group headed by Zhang Lide, chief scientist of China's nanometer studies have recently worked out the nanometer coaxial cable as thin as one 50,000th of a hair. It is reported that before this they have developed a number of nanometer coaxial cables of different inner cores such as conductor, semi-conductor and superconductor, which have made it one of the few groups in the world capable of manufacturing nanometer coaxial cables. It is also briefed that Chinese scientists' papers on nanometer coaxial cables have been quoted internationally for 18 times.

China's More Unmanned Spaceshuttles


China's space industry will witness a steaming new era of development in the new century. During the so-called 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005), China will launch more unmanned space shuttles so as to eventually realize its manned space activities in the future. So far Chinese astronauts have been trained on their future space activities as scheduled. In the meanwhile, an experimenting system for manned space program will be established to lay a foundation for the targeted event. During the said period, China will launch 30 and more satellites into
space for 15 sectors such as telecommunication, navigation, weather observation, resource remote sensing, space observation and etc.

       Comments or inquiries on editorial matters or Newsletter content should be directed to:Mr. Dong Jianlong, Department of International Cooperation, MOST 15B, Fuxing Road Beijing 100862, PR China  Tel: (8610)68512650 Fax: (8610) 68512594, or Mr. Wang Jianping, Editor,NEWSLETTER, 15 Fuxing Road Beijing 100038, PR China, Tel:(8610) 68515544 Ext. 2580