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Here’s a round up of China research news items and trends I’ve picked up over the past month.

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Sci-tech is becoming (even) more high-profile and centralised

The first meeting of the new Central Committee on Science and Technology was held at some point earlier in the summer, but reports about the meeting are only just starting to emerge. The new Committee gives MoST significantly more power to oversee the R&I system as a whole, but will come with significant reforms at the Ministry.

Coupled with a few speeches from key officials – including President Xi – and the CPPCC meeting on 29th (more later), its clear that more central control is believed to be required and, by implication, that the Ministry isn’t up to the task on it’s own.

What remains to be seen is how much this new oversight will stretch into the peer review and funding processes at MoST and it’s remaining sub-agencies.

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Several positive steps towards reengagement

August 23, a German DFG delegation met with NSFC – this is arguably one of the strongest partnerships for NSFC with their joint sponsorship of the Sino-German Centre and its good to see normal delegations resuming after so many years.

August 29, the USA-China S&T Agreement was extended for 6 months, giving more time for both sides to negotiate revisions to the text

I found a CCG blog about visiting China and reengaging on a personal level with colleagues to be a really important reminder that without real interpersonal engagement, the politics can become overwhelming

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A shift away from playing catch up

The CPPCC met on 29th to discuss reforms to the R&I system and there seems to be a real consensus to avoid solely trying to catch up in areas such as semi-conductors and instead focus on other technologies for the future. A big bet on EVs has paid off, solar will likely do too – can a central strategy pick more long term winners?

Following this, there has also been a big push to prioritise younger scientists to try and drive progress which is going to lead to some interesting departmental politics over the coming years

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NSFC is questioning the Standard Model of Physics

Continuing the overall theme of change and rejuvenation, NSFC is hosting a meeting on ‘new physics beyond the standard model’ that I’m excited for in a purely geeky way