China honors top scientists for world-class contribution

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/8 20:23:40

Nation continues to invest heavily in R&D, allocates 13 billion yuan

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) poses for a photo with explosives expert Wang Zeshan (R) and virologist Hou Yunde, winners of China's top science award, at the National Science and Technology Award Conference in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 8, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders meet with representatives of award winners before the National Science and Technology Award Conference in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 8, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

The National Science and Technology Award Conference is held in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 8, 2018. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

China on Monday announced the recipients of the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award which honors the country's leading scientists for their contributions to scientific and technological innovation.

Explosives expert Wang Zeshan and virologist Hou Yunde received their award from President Xi Jinping at a grand ceremony in Beijing.

The award has honored 29 top scientists since it was established in 2000. The award is granted to no more than two scientists every year.

The award includes a 5 million yuan ($770,000) fund and recipients can decide in which scientific research project the money should be invested. The honorees can keep 10 percent of the fund.

Wang, 82, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and professor at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology, was known as the "King of Explosives." He has spent more than 60 years researching the field of explosives, and successively overcame problems that dogged his peers worldwide.

Wang is known as a trailblazer for the country's civilian and military application of explosives. His findings helped extend the range of China's ballistic missiles and artillery by more than 20 percent.

Hou, 89, also a CAE academician, is designer of the China's modern disease control and prevention system.

The system proved effective as it helped China control and end epidemic outbreaks including SARS and MERS, said Liu Dengfeng, an official with China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, reported on Monday.

Despite his advanced years, Hou continues to work as the chief designer for the national HIV and hepatitis control project.

The recipients' careers once again show the high and noble standard of the reward. The two recipients have made world-class contributions in their respective fields of research and made great contributions to humanity and society, chief executive of the domestic telecom industry portal Xiang Ligang told the Global Times on Monday.

The average age of the 29 recipients is over 80.

"The judges are not prejudiced against younger scientists, but it takes time for scientific findings to reach a world-class level, which is the standard for the award," Xiang said.

Xiang predicts scientists in their 60s or even 50s will soon be awarded the country's highest honor.

Huge investment

China continues to invest heavily in scientific research with the Ministry of Science and Technology announcing it has allocated 13 billion yuan to scientific research and development programs this year, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

The programs consist of 40 major projects and more than 600 minor ones, covering four major fields including high-tech research, agricultural science and technology, and fundamental research, said the report.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times that such allocation reflects the country's increasing emphasis on scientific research related to the enhancement of people's livelihood, citing the country's growing research budget on air pollution control and medical research.

Since 2016, China's budget for deep-sea technology and equipment has also dramatically increased, showing China's unprecedented determination to become a strong sea power, Zhu added.

Newspaper headline: Top scientists honored for innovation


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