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China Table of Contents


National Organization and Administration

The research institutes belonged to larger systems or hierarchies, defined by the administrative bodies that directed and funded their subordinate institutes. Research institutes were grouped into five major subsystems, known in China as the "five main forces" (see fig. 18). The five subsystems were administratively distinct and had little contact or communication among them.

Chinese Academy of Sciences

In the late 1980s, the Chinese Academy of Sciences remained the most prestigious research agency in the natural sciences. It administered about 120 research institutes in various parts of China, with major concentrations in Beijing and Shanghai. In 1986 the academy employed 80,000 persons, over 40,000 of whom were scientific personnel. It also operated the elite Chinese University of Science and Technology, located in Hefei, Anhui Province, as well as its own printing plant and scientific instrument factory. Its institutes concentrated on basic research in many fields and did research (such as that on superconductor materials) that met international standards. The Chinese Academy of Sciences institutes employed China's best-qualified civilian scientists and had better laboratories, equipment, and libraries than institutes in the other four research systems. The academy's concentration on basic research was intended to be complemented by the work of the more numerous institutes affiliated with industrial ministries or local governments, which focused on applied research.

Although nominally subordinate to the State Science and Technology Commission, the Chinese Academy of Sciences in practice reported directly to the State Council (see The State Council , ch. 10). Before 1956 the academy was directly responsible for overall science planning, and in 1987 it retained a fairly high degree of institutional autonomy and influence on national science policy. The academy provided expert advice, when asked, to the State Council and its ministries, commissions, and agencies. Its specialized research institutes also did work for the military research and development program. Additionally, it had responsibility for multidisciplinary research, monitoring the level of technology in Chinese industries and suggesting areas where foreign technology should be purchased. During the 1980s the academy repeatedly was asked to pay more attention to the needs of production and the application of knowledge.

The membership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences included the nation's most senior and best-known scientists, some of whom had long-standing personal ties with senior political leaders. Such ties and the prestige of the academy helped it win favorable treatment in the state budgetary process and operate with relatively little outside interference. Its relatively privileged position generated resentment among those working in less wellfunded institutes under the industrial ministries, whose workers-- as well as some planners in the state administration--reportedly considered the academy both overfunded and overstaffed with theoreticians who contributed little to the national economy.

Data as of July 1987