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Profile of 973 Program

The Origin and Strategic Significance

The National Basic Research Program (also called 973 Program) is China's on-going national keystone basic research program, which was approved by the Chinese government in June 1997 and is organized and implemented by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The 973 Program is created on the basis of existing research activities and deployments made by the National Nature Science Foundation and major dedicated pre-studies, to organize and implement basic research to meet the nation's major strategic needs. The Program has gathered together strong expertise to launch innovation studies of major scientific issues relating to sustainable development such as agriculture, energy, information, resources and environment, population and health and materials in line with the national goals and tasks for the economic, social and S&T development. Stipulation and implementation of the 973 Program is an important decision of our country to carry out the two development strategies of " Rejuvenating the country through science and technology " and " sustainable development", as well as to further reinforce basic research and science and technology work. It is an important measure of our country to achieve the great objectives of China's economic, scientific & technology, and social development by 2010-2050 , to upgrade the sustainable S & T innovative capabilities and to meet the challenges of the new century. Through the organization and implementation of the 973 Program, we will create an excellent scientific research environment, intensively support a group of outstanding scientific research teams, conduct important innovation research, and scale the peak of the world's science, thus promoting the magnificent development of the China's basic research and the hi-tech industries. This is of much significance for fulfilling the national strategic objectives.

The Objectives and Tasks

The strategic objectives of the 973 Program are to strengthen the original innovations and to address the important scientific issues concerning the national economic and social development at a deeper level and in a wider scope, so as to improve China's capabilities of independent innovations and to provide scientific support for the future development of the country.

This program has four main tasks. The first is to conduct multidisciplinary comprehensive research and provide theoretic and scientific foundations for the settlement of the important scientific issues regarding the development of the national economy and society as well as the science itself in the fields of agriculture, energy, information, resource and environment, population and health, materials, and etc. The second is to deploy relevant, important and explorative forefront basic researches. The third is to nurture a number of outstanding personnel with high scientific qualification and creative capability, whom could be to meet the requirements of development in the 21st century. The fourth is to built a group of high-level scientific and technological assignments of the country, thus constituting some interdisciplinary scientific research centers.

Overall Deployment of the 973 Program

Since the implementation of the 973 Program, we, in accordance with the principles of adopting a broad overview of the present situation and giving prominence to the focal points, and in line with the macroscopic guidance of national objectives, have defined the overall work deployment and made reasonable arrangement, reflecting the Chinese government's requirements of providing momentum and headspring to technical innovations, and providing support to the sustainable development of economic and society. Over years of evaluation of the research projects, we've already put 133 projects under the authorized program by the end of 2002, including 17 projects in the agricultural sector, 15 in the energy, 18 in the information, 24 in the resource and environment, 21 in the population and health, 19 in the material, and 19 in the synthesis and frontier science. We've appointed 175 chief scientists for the projects, and made financial investment of 2.5 billion RMB in the Ninth Five -Year Plan. 973 Program not only absorbs the largest investment from the central government among China's basic research programs since the founding of New China, but also is composed of single projects with the largest investment by the Chinese government. On average, every single project enjoys a strong support of up to 20-30 million RMB over a span of 5 years.

In the course of arranging 973 Program, we have not only intensified the analysis of and strategic research on the important demands of the country, but also conducted research on some important issues, such as industrial restructuring of the national economy, the development of new and high-tech industries, the economic and social informatization, the improvement of people's health and living standards, the natural resources and their effective utilization, the harmonious development of ecology, environment and society, the great development of the regions and etc.

Organizing and Managing the 973 Program

Establish a high-level advisor committee

In accordance with the decisions made at the third meeting of the former National Scientific and Technological Steering Group, the Ministry of Science and Technology has set up a high-level advisor committee through appointing two groups of eminent scientists numbering 33 successively, who not only have profound understanding of the basic research and important national demands, but also can fully reflect the opinions of the scientific and technological society. This committee is responsible for offering consultation advice, assessment and supervision on the stipulation of the National Key Basic Research Development Program, and the organization and selection of the research projects of the 973 Program, so as to fully assure the scientific, democratic and impartial feature when evaluating and putting the 973 projects under the authorized program. In recent years, under the leadership of Professor Zhou Guang-zhao, the advisor committee has made arduous efforts in facilitating the start-up and implementation of the 973 Program, and played an extremely important directive and advisory role.

Implement a mechanism of expert management of projects and supervision on the operations In the course of organizing and implementing 973 Program projects, we rely on the experts and give full play to them. We appoint chief scientist for the 973 Program projects, who are entrusted with full power of leadership. We've also established expert teams for the research projects, which offers much more room for the chief scientists and expert teams to make decisions by themselves, so that the research plans and preset objectives of the projects can be achieved successfully. A number of effective measures have also been taken to encourage and motivate all participants' enthusiasm and creativity.

In order to strengthen the dynamic management, supervision and inspection on the whole courses of implementing the 973 Program projects, we have also established excellent supervisory mechanism for the projects operations. We set up a consulting group, which appoint senior experts and scholars from relevant fields to conduct follow-up observation and research during the implementation of the projects. These experts in turn put forward their comments and suggestions directly to the Ministry of Science and Technology, so as to help chief scientists and project expert teams to fulfil the preset objectives more effectively. Carry out "2+3" new mode of project funding

For the funding of 973 Program projects, we adopt a new mode of "2+3", namely, a stage-by-stage funding. Two years after each project is implemented, a mid-term evaluation and inspection should be conducted. Based on the actual performance and the evaluating comments of a special expert group, the decision will be made on whether the preset tasks should be continued, or whether the preset amount of funding should be adjusted in the next three years. By doing so, we can avoid the situation that great efforts are made to put the project into the authorized program, while "research subject and team becomes rigidity and the thinking becomes ossified" during the implementation of the project. Hopefully this mode will help keep its fresh energy and vital force while promoting the competitions among different projects and subject teams.

Implement subject management system

In accordance with the international practice in the financial management of scientific and technological projects, we firstly implement the "subject management system" for funding the 973 Program projects in China. Namely, we conduct the total fund budgeting by subjects calculation, process control and full cost accounting inside of the projects. This gives chief scientists and subject leaders bigger decision-making power to employ high-level scientists from home and abroad to join the projects. Also, the allowances and wages of the employees can be defined and clarified through contracts. As an important breakthrough in the financial management of China's scientific and technological projects, this practice further embodies the actual value of the scientists and technicians engaged in the program and greatly motivates their activity and creativity.

The implementation results of the 973 Program

Over the past five years, the organization and implementation of the 973 Program has been going on successfully, which has drawn close attention and high recognition from China's scientific society, particularly those scientists who are engaged in the basic research. Furthermore, it has resulted in a bunch of exciting research achievements in a short period of time. According to incomplete statistics of the 87 projects of the 973 Program over the past four years, various scientific and technological articles releases home and abroad have totaled up to 15500, including more than 7300 SCI and EI articles and 221 relevant research books. And 485 patented technological inventions have also been licensed in the same period.

The implementation of the 973 Program has remarkable impact on the scientific and technological society, and greatly boosted the rapid improvement of China's international competitiveness. The Formulation of the 973 Program offers an important deployment for the strategic development of China's basic research. And the organization and implementation of the Program exerts an important influence on China's scientific and technological society and draws close attention and high recognition from both the scientific and technological society and other social circles. The entrance into WTO means that China will participate in the global economic competitions in a large scope and on a deeper level, which will surely result in important and deep impact on China's economy, society, science and technology. Presently, the developed countries are accelerating their paces to transfer their technological advantages into market monopoly throughout the would. This is vividly reflected by the protection of intellectual properties, possession of patents, and their restrictions imposed on the developing countries. The implementation of the 973 Program further emphasizes the original innovations and independent intellectual properties in China's research. At the same time, great efforts have been made to carry out the strategies of patent and technical standards, thus rapidly uplifting the number and quality of China's patents and improving the international competitiveness of China's science, technology, and economy.

Absorb and gather a bunch of outstanding scientific and technological experts, and foster a bunch of high-quality academic researchers.

The implementation of and strong financial support from the 973 Program promotes the stabilization of China's scientific research team and the training of the young and middle-aged experts. Plus, it provides a stage for the outstanding overseas Chinese people to return home to serve the motherland. The projects of the 973 Program have absorbed and gathered a big bunch of outstanding scientific researchers from home and abroad. Some of them are the older-generation scientists who enjoy moral eminence and high esteem, while others are young and middle aged researchers who are creative and pioneering. According to statistics, out of the 108 chief scientists who responsible for the 87 projects that have already been initiated and implemented, 2 persons are from the research institutes headquartered in a foreign country and Hong Kong. Since the 973 Program was started up, 166 CAS academicians and 59 CAE academicians have already taken part in the organization implementation of the Program and the research work of the projects. From the "Hundred Talents Program" of the CAS, the "Cheung-Kong Scholar Program" of the Ministry of Education, and the "National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars" of the National Natural Science Foundation and some other national outstanding scientists assistance and training programs, a total of altogether 516 people have participated the project research of the 973 Program in succession. Over years of arduous work, 87 projects have trained 720 postdoctoral, 2671doctors and 2641 masters. We can believe that there will be more emerging outstanding young scientists after a period of implementation of the projects.

Promote the "trans-departmental and trans-field" cooperation among the research institutes, universities, companies and regions. Through the organization and implementation of the 973 Program, we have further enhanced the understanding of different social strata and the scientists about the importance of basic research. In particular, the idea that "in the new era, the basic research should be done in line with the important national requirements and aimed at resolving the important scientific issues regarding the development of national economy and society" has profoundly influenced the whole society. The industrial departments, local governments and companies have been gradually driven to pay close attention to and provide great supports for the strategic basic research, thus gradual overcoming the bias of "emphasizing research while ignoring application" which used to be quite popular among scientists and researchers for a long time. This has improved their understanding of intellectual property rights and economic effects. The implementation of the 973 Program has promoted the combinations and close collaborations among universities, institutes and industrial sectors, intensified the cohesive force of the scientific and technological society, spurred the intersection and integration of various disciplines, as well as greatly improved the actual capabilities of resolving important issues. This enables the scientists to utilize the limited resources and focus the strength on basic innovative research, in line with the national objectives, so as resolve the important issues in national economic construction and social development.

Important program has already been made in the 973 Program

The "Basic research on the new-generation iron & steel material" by applying the in-depth research on the mechanism of the formation of the micro-structures and the transformation inducements of the steel materials, as well as the exploration of the basic theories about metallurgy such as the micro-alloying of highly clean steel, through seeking the grain size number of the refined steel materials. It has made breakthrough in improving grain size number of the steel, the technological process and control technology for the improvement of the steel uniformity, and improvement of the intensity and life of the steel materials. Scientists conducted the industrial experiment of deformation-induced phase transformation on Q253-steel (annual production capability is 40 million tons all over the country) in Bao-shan and An-shan steel and Iron complexes respectively, and the reliability of the research achievements has been proved under industrial conditions, thus improving the yield strength of the carbon steel from 200 MPa to 400 MPa. This was the first large-scale experimental research in the would, which has transfered the achievements of the basic research into industrialized production site in a short period of time, displaying exciting application prospects.

The project of "Establishment of the theoretical and technological system on the disease genome" has located sites for pathogenic genes related to single-gene of multi-gene disease, established models for genetic esophagus and nasopharyngeal cancer, and conducted in-depth structure-function research on pathogenic genes of high-frequent deafness and leukemia. At the same time, the projects has carried out overall and multi-level research on disease models (such as liver cancer) on aspects of genome structure variation, expression spectrum, and biochemical adjustment network, indicating further breakthroughs in the near future. Scientists have also conducted overall research on the regulating gene in differentiation induction therapy of acute promyelocytic leukemia with all-trans retinoic acid", and successfully isolated 169 genes regulated by retinoic acid, thus providing theoretical guidance for the clinic comprehensive therapy, and the prevention of recrudesce and anti-drug mechanism of the disease. Scientists introduced the method of located candidate cloning technology, and did research on the genetic opalescence dentine genealogy, and figured out for the first time in the would that the pathogenic genes of the disease is DSPP. In-depth research on the pathogenic genes of the finger (toe) skeletal deformity genetic diseases have also been conducted, such as short finger (toe) disease, and found for the first time that the three variations of the IHH gene are the direct causes of A-1 type short finger (toe) disease.

For the project of "Nanometer material and nanometer structure", on the basis of directional growth of super-long (2-3 mm) carbon nanometer pipe arrays with large areas of underlay, scientists have successfully produced the super-thin carbin nanometer pipe with the inside diameter of only 0.5mm. They produced nanometer copper by using the electro-deposit technology, figured out that the material can obtain 5100% elongation rate under the normal room temperature, and pointed out the mechanism of elongation rate under the normal room temperature, and pointed out the mechanism of elongation is that high crystal integral of nanometer metal Cu is the important cause of super elongation. They have also made a series of creative progress, for example, the production of the sequential arrays of GaN mono-crystal uni-dimensional nanometer threads, the research and production of the coaxial nanomater cable with GaN at the core, BN outside and diameter of 50nm, the assembly of the thinnest probe with the best performance in the would by using the single-wall carbon nanometer pipes in channel-scanning microscopes, and the production of hexahedron GaN nanometer crystal with benzene heat prefabrication technology.

The "research on structural performance, molecular design, micro-structural design and manufacturing process of the photo-electrical functional crystal" has first discovered theoretically and then proved in experiments that inside the dielectric crystal lattice composed of piezoelectric and ferroelectric materials, there exists coupling between the super-lattice vibration and the electromagnetic waves. And the project has put forward the new concept of "ion type phonon crystal". The researchers of the project have successfully produced high-quality big crystal, such as YCOB, Nd:YCOB, and GCOB, and have found out experimentally that the most effective power output direction is not on the main plane, which was recognized in the would. The YCOB direct double frequency has been obtained and the acquired output efficiency of the green light is 15% higher than the best result abroad. The Nd:YCOB crystal has been used to obtain the self double frequency green light output in the most effective power output direction. Through the super-lattice micro-structural design, the laser direct triple frequency theory and methods have been developed, and the big-sized triple frequency optical supper-lattices with different structure sequences have been produced. For the first time, the small and completely solid optical maser with two wavelengths of UV-green and red-blue has been produced. This achievement is the first experimental result with application value, regarding the quasi-crystal and quasi-period material in the field of non-linear optics since the quasi-crystal was found.

The project of "digital mechanization and automatic reasoning platform" puts forward three methods of automatic geometric construction: overall continuation, symbol computation and data value optimizing, which have been utilized resole the p3p space localization issue, the restriction conflict between Kempe connecting rod design and smart CAD, as well as divider and ruler construction issue. On this basis, the concept of "engineering geometry" has been brought forward. The project also saw certain breakthrough in the research on the application targets, and gave the mechanical method of the conformation and selection of small waves as well as its application in the dynamic image data compression, particularly the dynamic image data compression on the targeted areas. This technology has broad application prospects in confidential telecommunication, video telephone, remote sensing, tele-healthcare. And the proposal about "multi-elemental transformation" technology has been adopted by the JPEC 2000 image compression international standards and written into the related chapters of the second part of the final draft.

The "Forecast research on the evolution of China's future living environment and North China's aridity trend" develops the integrated model of regional environment system for the quantitative forecast of the aridity trend. The model has excellent capability of simulating the climate characteristics of North China's arid and semi-arid regions, and plays a leading role in the international plan composed of ten regional models for Asian area. The project puts forward the forecast of the aridity trend of North China in the coming 10-15 years. (1) As a result of the long-term evolvement of the natural environment, Northwest China will keep its aridity, and the weak fluctuation of the precipitation can't change the arid situation. (2) The North China and the west of Northeast China, where aridity has been fiercest in recent years under the actions of natural fluctuation, global warming and the human impacts, will continue to see accelerated aridity in the forthcoming 10-15 years. In the next 30 years, the natural fluctuation will make the areas enter the relatively wet period. Provided that regional eco-environmental damages are controlled after the global warming trend is offset by the natural fluctuation, the aridity velocity may be reduced and the drought may be eased.

It can be estimated that, with the continuous development of the 973 Program, these on-going research projects will play an incredibly promotional role in China's economic construction, social advance and scientific and technological development.

Vision about the 973 Program during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period

During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the 973 Program, in line with the overall arrangement stipulated in the Tenth Five-Year Plan for scientific and Technological Development of China, will be oriented to meet the national important demands, and address the important scientific and technological issues concerning social advance and national economy, and to prioritize the improvement of China's original innovation capability. The 973 Program will follow the development concept of "stability, consolidation and perfecting", give prominence to key projects, enhance integration, and continue to plan a strategic development of national key basic research. Through the in-depth implementation of the 973 Program, we should be further upgrade the scientific and technological level, particularly the overall level of basic research, so as to make due contributions to the grand objectives of making China a scientific and technological power by mid-21st century.

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