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Baby steps on science, technology projects

THE major projects in a 15-year scientific and technological development program are progressing very slowly, a political adviser said yesterday in Beijing.

The State Council, or Cabinet, approved the last major scientific and technological project late last year, Wu Hequan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said at a plenary meeting of the top political advisory body.

"It means we have spent one-fifth of the time just to start the program," Wu said. "In addition, no substantial research and study has been conducted on many projects so far."

China planned to inject 500 billion yuan (US$73 billion) in the National Program for Medium and Long-Term Scientific and Technological Development, aiming to make breakthroughs in a host of core technologies including large airplanes for civil service, core electronic devices, development and use of nuclear energy and advanced numerically controlled machine tools.

Wu, also vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, blamed a lack of efficiency in the multi-level administrative system as the direct cause for the "slow progress."

"The major projects involve a wide range of sectors and a large number of institutions, which makes coordination difficult between departments," he said. "And relevant regulations have not been improved to meet the current demand of the key projects."

Wu proposed a leading team headed by a Cabinet leader to act as more efficient coordinators, a mechanism that proved successful for the Beijing Olympics.

The 15-year program was initiated in 2006.


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