Nations set to renew sci-tech pacts


Nations set to renew sci-tech pacts
A member of the US delegation to the final of the China-US Young Maker Competition tries on medical monitoring equipment in Beijing in August. Around 300 young people from China and the US participated in the event.Yang Kejia / China News Service

China and the United States are likely to renew the Sino-US Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology – the bedrock of science diplomacy – by the end of the year.

This will reinvigorate government-level science exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, Sun Hui, director of Sino-US cooperation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

Late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping signed the agreement with former US president Jimmy Carter on Jan 31, 1979. It was one of the first and key acts of normalization between the two countries since they established formal relations on Jan 1, 1979, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The agreement has to be renewed every five years with new items and cooperation fields, and the last formal renewal was in 2011. In April 2016, China and the US only signed a one-year extension of the agreement due to the change of the US administration, and no formal renewal has been signed since then.

“Science diplomacy has been an integral part of Sino-US relations and a crucial engine in promoting practical, win-win cooperation, and people-to-people exchange,” Sun said, adding that the agreement has yielded “significant fruits” in clean energy, agriculture, basic science research and exchange programs for young scientists.

“However, the new US administration’s recent tightening on immigration and trade reflects its ‘America first’ mentality, hence foreign scientists, especially in cutting-edge or defense-related fields, are under heavy scrutiny during travel.”

The US is worried about China emerging as a global technological powerhouse, which can led to more competition with US companies in trade and intellectual property, Sun said.

“But Sino-US science cooperation has a long and fruitful history, and has proved to be mutually beneficial,” he said. “Scientists from China and the US working together can help address many of the world’s common and toughest challenges.”

On Oct 31, China hosted the annual Sino-US meeting on meteorological science and technology. China and the US have been cooperating in this field for about 40 years and jointly conducted more than 600 projects, according to the memorandum of the meeting.

Louis Uccellini, director of the US National Weather Service, said at the meeting that China has become one of the world leaders in modern meteorological studies, and both countries have deep cooperation in weather forecast, disaster prevention, and climate research.

This cooperation has led to social and economic development in both countries by contributing to agriculture, hydraulic engineering, health and many other fields. Uccellini said he expected China and US will continue to deepen cooperation in this field, promote win-win situations, and facilitate global climate research.

Between June and August, China also hosted the 2017 East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes summer program – a young scientist exchange program organized by China Science and Technology Exchange Center. This was the 14th edition of the summer program.

Around 80 young scholars from both countries’ top universities and institutes participated, including Tsinghua University, China’s National Nanotechnology Center, Duke University and the University of California, Berkeley.

“These programs can provide a great platform for young scientists to share their culture, promote understanding, and enrich friendship that will form the basis of future scientific cooperation,” said Zhao Lixin, deputy director of the center.

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