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Promoting Int'l Sci-tech Cooperation Through Legislation

| 2022.04.27

To address common challenges facing humanity, such as food security, energy security, health and climate change, global sci-tech cooperation is required.


That requirement has been given legal teeth in the revised Law on Progress of Science and Technology, in which international sci-tech cooperation is included in a set of new articles, missing in the 2007 version of this law.


Initiated in 2007, the Zhongguancun Forum is a national platform for global sci-tech innovation. It focuses on cutting-edge trends and topics around the world, and facilitates the exchanges of ideas. 


According to Zhang Yafeng, special research assistant at the School of Public Policy and Management, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, sci-tech cooperation is an important aspect of China's opening up to the outside. The revised law is now more conducive to better carrying out research activities.


China has always been an advocate and a practitioner of international sci-tech cooperation. In this revised law, a variety of supporting measures are put forward.


For example, article 81 says the country encourages enterprises, public institutions and social organizations to establish platforms for international sci-tech innovation cooperation and provide related services. Zhang said the platforms generally cover four types, including setting up institutions and organizations, holding international conferences, sharing scientific resources, especially the large scientific facilities such as China's FAST, and initiating big science plans and projects.


The country would support research institutions, universities, enterprises, and researchers in becoming active participants or initiators of implementing international big science plans and projects, says article 82.


With the in-depth exploration of the unknown scientific world, there are more demands for high investment intensity, interdisciplinary collaboration, expensive facilities and instruments, and labor forces. It is difficult for one nation to meet all these requirements, so multinational cooperation is a must and can greatly enhance research efficiency, said Zhang.


Moreover, the big science projects offer a good platform that can attract and gather high-level sci-tech personnel from all over the world, which in turn could drive China's sci-tech progress, and help China better participate in global sci-tech governance, said Zhang.


China will improve the mechanism for intellectual property protection, sci-tech ethics, and safety reviews in international sci-tech cooperation, according to article 82.


In this regard, Zhang said that the central government should introduce a general regulation to specify responsible departments and working procedures, and establish a disciplinary mechanism.


In addition, as the typical participants of international sci-tech cooperation, universities and research institutions should formulate their own regulations, in which the rights and obligations of foreign visiting researchers should be clarified, including the ownership of intellectual property output and the confidentiality obligations during the visit, said Zhang.


Universities and research institutions should also provide support services for their staff visiting abroad, such as assisting them in reviewing their visit and collaboration contracts, said Zhang, adding that researchers should also abide by the laws and regulations of the host countries during the overseas visiting period.


Article 83 says the country would encourage foreign enterprises and researchers in China to undertake and participate in sci-tech programs. Zhang said this will expand China's sci-tech circle of friends, and help China further integrate into the global innovation network.


With regard to the collaborative research achievements, Zhang said it is difficult to define the size of contribution of each participant. But the principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect should be honored in determining the ownership. He suggested that the organizations and the researchers could sign a contract before cooperation to clarify the ownership and use of the research achievements.


The research institutions and other organizations are allowed to employ researchers from abroad based on their needs, says article 84, adding that these foreigners have priority in obtaining the right of permanent residence in China or acquiring Chinese nationality.