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



November 30,2006







*China’s Marine S&T Blueprint

* China Becomes Part of ITER

*Green Poverty Reduction in China

*China-Singapore Treating AIDS with T-Cell

* China’s Largest Near-Earth Objects Telescope





China’s Marine S&T Blueprint

During the 11th Five-year plan period (2006-2010), China expects a noticeably enhanced S&T support for marine economy, marine management, disasters prevention and preparedness, and national security. The contribution to marine economy, rendered by marine science and technology, will rise to 50%.

To implement the National Outline for Medium and Long Term S&T Development Planning (2008-2020), the State Oceanography Bureau, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the State Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, and the National Natural Science Foundation have recently jointly issued a national outline of marine science and technology development for the 11th Five-year period, in a move to speed up the development of marine science and technology, step up the construction of the national marine S&T innovation system, enhance China’s marine S&T level and capacity, support and facilitate a fast development of marine economy, and safeguard marine security.

According to the marine outline, the following are among the basic research capabilities and levels to be raised during the 11th Five-year plan period: new R&D breakthroughs in proprietary core technologies; an advanced marine S&T innovation system; noticeably raised proprietary innovation capacity; noticeably enhanced marine S&T support for marine economy, marine management, disasters prevention and preparedness, and marine security; a raised marine S&T contribution to marine economy to 50%; optimized distribution of marine S&T resources; an increase of high caliber marine S&T personnel by 30% in number; and marine science and technology becoming an important force supporting and driving the development of China’s marine activities. By 2020, China’s overall marine S&T level shall reach the level of intermediately developed countries in the same period, creating a solid S&T foundation for building a powerful marine nation.

The marine outline has set up eight major missions for China’s marine science and technology development during the 11th Five-year plan period as follows: 1) develop marine monitoring and predicting technologies, and enhance the support of marine environment; 2) develop protection technologies for marine development, and spur up a healthier development of marine economy; 3) conduct marine research, and improve the knowledge of marine evolutions; 4) conduct the study of marine management, and promote a sustainable marine development; 5) implement special marine projects, and meet major national strategic needs; 6) step up the construction of marine innovation system, and enhance marine S&T innovation capacity; 7) strengthen the construction of marine S&T platforms, and raise the infrastructure capacity of marine science and technology; and 8) strengthen marine S&T education, and foster a marine S&T contingent.



China Becomes Part of ITER

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) was officially kicked off on November 21, 2006. Sponsors, including China, EU, the United States, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea undersigned an implementation accord and associated documents in Paris. XU Guanhua, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology left his signature, on behalf of the Chinese government, on the accord. The event marks China becoming an official part of the international initiative.

XU said in his speech that the day heralds a historical moment for human exploration and development of fusion energy, through collaborative efforts, to address energy and environmental issues. It makes a new milestone for the sustainable development of the mankind. Not long ago, China has developed the world first Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokomak, independently designed and manufactured by Chinese scientists, and successfully made its first physical discharge. The unit will be a contribution to the pre-phase study of ITER, as it bears some similarities with the latter.

Experts believe that China’s participation in ITER will produce some practical benefits, in addition to addressing its strategic energy needs. As a technological integration of nuclear science, superconducting, plasma, and robots, the project will stimulate China to develop relevant technologies. At the same time, China’s full participation will lead to a full knowledge of ITER technologies and foster its expertise in the area. It will also help China to be part of cutting-edges in the area, within a shorter period of time, using smaller investment. 

Green Poverty Reduction in China

Green Poverty Reduction in China, an initiative between UNDP and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) under the Ministry of Commerce to reduce poverty and improve ecosystems for Chinese ethnic minorities, was recently launched in Beijing. The US$ 8.585 million project will, in a period of 4 years, tap up the potential green energy sources for the areas involved in the project, and help people living in the west region lift from poverty using green technologies, while protecting the ecosystem there.

“Fostering the potential of green industries and energy sources in remote mountain areas and deserts is an important vehicle which can generate income and employment opportunities, while protecting the environment," said Alessandra Tisot, UNDP Senior Deputy Resident Representative in China.

Through bio-diesel production in Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan, the project aims to create a market for the oil-rich seed of the Jatropha Curcas L tree. The tree grows wild in the mountainous regions of western China and is currently used by farmers as hedging and to prevent desertification. Its wide-spread cultivation would hopefully lead to more fertile land in an area where soil erosion and aridity create difficulties for agriculture and the ecosystem

Along with the production of bio-diesel, the project will develop Jarrah Dayun production in Xinjiang, which is used as a raw material for traditional medicine, and provide small-scale wind turbines to poor herdsmen in Inner Mongolia. Best practice and lessons gained through these pilot sites will be disseminated as the initiative for further diffusion across the country.

China-Singapore Treating AIDS with T-Cell

Zhejiang Blood Center and Singapore’s CyGenics Group jointly inked an accord on November 18, 2006 in Hangzhou, for R&D of in-vitro thymus dependent lymphocyte (T-cells), taking advantage of the patented technology of CyGenics and experimental conditions on the Zhejiang side. The effort will lead to the establishment of a technological platform for treating AIDS diseases.

CyGenics, possessing a Cytomtrix patent, has successfully produced and multiplied human T-cells in a lab setting. Zhejiang Blood Center, equipped with advanced medical research equipment and expertise, is able to provide hematopoietic stem cell materials, including umbilical-cord blood, bone marrow, and peripheral blood . Both parties agreed to conduct a range of biological experiments on the donated stem cell lines, studying and determining the therapeutic effects of artificially multiplied T-cells under different conditions, and developing the technologies to multiple and differentiate frozen stem cells, using artificial thymus techniques, for clinical applications.



China’s Largest Near-Earth Objects Telescope

A 1-m Near-Earth Objects Telescope, the largest of its kind for searching near-earth celestial objects in the country, has made a successful trial observation at the Xuyi Observing Station, part of the Purple Mountain Observatory affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. According to a briefing, the telescope will mainly be used to spot the near-earth celestial objects that may impose a threat to earth security. Equipped with a Schmidt optical system made up of a 1.04m corrector and a 1.2m spherical reflection mirror, the novel telescope enjoys larger fields and stronger light irradiation. At present, there are only six Schmidt telescopes having a caliber over 1m in the world.

The telescope is also equipped with a new generation CCD sounder, a proprietary drift scanning device developed by the Purple Mountain Observatory, enjoying the highest sensitivity in the country. The technology makes recording darker celestial objects possible.

After its successful trial observation, the telescope will be put into operation searching near-earth celestial objects. Astronomers will develop an automatic processing system to screen, compare, identify, and register the pictures recorded by the telescope, in an attempt to analyze potential hazards of near-earth celestial objects on Earth. Once the threat is detected, a warning will immediately be issued to the rest of the world.

In addition to sorting out near-earth celestial objects, asteroids, and comets, the telescope is also able to detect satellites in the medium and high orbits, space debris, and other celestial bodies, including supernova, variables, nebula, and external galaxies. 

Chinese Scientists Found New Cause for Alzheimer Disease

Chinese scientists reported their latest findings on the new mechanism of amyloid-β (Aβ) formulation in the online journal Nature Medicine published on November 19, 2006. The findings has unveiled a new mechanism causing the Alzheimer's disease, suggesting that β2-adrenergic receptor may become a new pharmaceutical target for treating the disease.

The research team, led by PEI Gang, an academician working for the Institute of Biochemistry and Cytology, part of Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that activation of β2-adrenergic receptor stimulates γ-secretase activity and accelerates amyloid plaque formation, which may eventually result in the occurrence of the Alzheimer's disease. Researchers have filed a patent application for the finding.

Proprietary Underwater Dry Maintenance

Underwater dry pipe maintenance system, part of the special project for developing key technologies for prospecting and mining activities in Bohai oil fields under the National 863 Program, applauded a successful try in the Bohai Sea November 9-20, 2006, testing its key technical performance and major indicators. Test results show that the system is technically advanced with fine stability, reliability, and field operation.

Underwater dry pipe maintenance, a research topic created under the special project of developing key technologies for prospecting and mining activities in the Bohai oil fields, is to work out a set of technologies and equipment, allowing ocean floor pipe maintenance at a work depth up to 60m and in turbid water. The new system, integrated with an array of ocean floor pipe maintenance technologies, is able to make a quick fix of the pipe problems occurred on the ocean floor. Thanks to its 5-year painstaking efforts, the research team has achieved breakthroughs in a range of needed technologies, including underwater dry maintenance, underwater high pressure dry welding, dry cabin design, and rolled out corresponding equipment, including underwater dry cabin, underwater diamond wire saw, underwater boring machine, underwater dry welder, and underwater furrower. The efforts have resulted in 27 invention patents and 7 utilities. 

Enhanced Ecological Control over Vulnerable Areas

An array of technical systems and role models has been set up in this country to build a healthier ecological environment, using science and technology. The effort has added up both the speed and returns of China’s major ecological projects over the vulnerable areas.

Derived from the initiatives are theories and methods for establishing China’s forest ecological network and urban forest system, and addressing the key technologies that impede the development of forest ecological network. 148 technologies and models have been developed to address an optimized distribution of vegetations in the areas that are supposed reclaim tree growing from farming lands. The soil erosion control has covered 85% of the affected areas, with a reduced soil and water loss by 66%.

The project has generated technical systems and models for ecological restoration and reconstruction over the belts mixed with farming and stock breeding activities, which lifted the increase of unit food yield from 30% to 80%. The initiative also resulted in some 60 tree species that are resistant to drought, salt, and cold, with an afforestation survival and retention at 80% and 70% respectively. Researchers have developed 4 technologies for enclosed restoration and 4 technologies for restructuring natural colonies and directional restoration. Efforts have also been made to create a reforestation technical system for natural forests grown over northeast China, and worked out methods for examining and evaluating sustainable forest operation indicators. In the meanwhile, researchers developed technologies for constructing forest fire breaks and manipulating forest combustibles, and updated prairies fire risk maps for 9 provinces and autonomous regions. Integrated management modalities and protection technologies, developed specifically for typical nature conservation zones, have brought up a raised economic return by 30%, and an increased household income by 20%.  

Substantive Progresses for Ethanol Fuel

Thank to their two-odd-year efforts, researchers with the Institute of Modern Physics, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have successfully screened out 4 improved varieties from some 10 sweet sorghum species grown over experimental plots of different soil properties in 5 counties of 2 cities (Dingxi and Baiyin) in Gansu Province.  The improved varieties have registered a unit yield of 8 tons per mu (1 mu= 0.0667 hectare), with a sugar content as high as 20%.  

Researchers have also made substantive progresses in developing the techniques for producing sweet sorghum based ethanol fuel. They bred out novel bacteria using heavy particle radiation, and obtained an alcohol volume of 9% using the direct fermentation technique. The technology shortens the fermentation cycle to 16 hours, or one-quarter of the time needed by the traditional fermentation process using corn.

The sweet sorghum based ethanol fuel project has passed the evaluation of an expert panel organized by the State Development and Reform Commission, and the approval of local authorities in Gansu. Deep processing of yeast gourmet and glucan, a follow-up project, has also been completed of the construction and will soon be put into operation at a CAS industrial park in Baiyin City, Gansu Province. According to the plan, a sweet sorghum growing base of 400,000 mu and an ethanol fuel refinery with an annual capacity of 100,000 tons will be established during the 11th Five-year plan period in the Province.

       Comments or inquiries on editorial matters or Newsletter content should be directed to:

Mr. Mao Zhongying, Department of International Cooperation, MOST 15B, Fuxing Road Beijing 100862, PR China  Tel: (8610)58881360 Fax: (8610) 58881364