China to boost basic research in natural resources on its path to tech self-reliance

The Chinese government has pledged to support a wide range of basic research related to natural resources to support its goal of turning the country into a science superpower.

The objectives are among the Ministry of Natural Resources’ new policy guidelines to strengthen fundamental research released by the ministry on its official social media accounts on Wednesday.

Beijing’s top leaders last month committed to building China into a major world science power by 2035, acknowledging that science and technology will be key drivers for the world’s second-largest economy as it faces external and internal challenges.



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The pledge came as China and the US compete in several arenas, including geopolitics, trade and technology. Beijing has repeatedly pledged to be self-reliant in key technologies in the face of growing efforts by Washington to limit China’s access to advanced technology in the US.

The ministry vows to actively work with the global basic research innovation community by taking part in major international projects, such as Digital Earth, research on negative ocean emissions technology, deep-sea habitats and seamless forecasts for the ocean and climate.

It said China would actively take part in important international science programmes – such as the International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme, the International Ocean Discovery Programme as well as joint laboratories and research centres – and would support international organisations and well-known scientific research institutions to set up branches in China.

The ministry would also encourage regular exchanges and joint work on research projects with scientists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

On the mainland, the ministry committed to focusing on important research directions in natural resources, such as the mineralisation pattern of strategic resources, exploring and exploiting deep-earth resources, investigating deep-sea abyss systems and ensuring the security of resource and environmental in seas in the polar regions.

It has pledged to direct a strategic basic research system that will be the source of disruptive technologies, although it did not elaborate on this goal.

The ministry’s focus on human resources includes China’s commitment to nurture a group of “strategic” scientists in the field of natural resources, boost incentives for scientific talent and optimise their appraisal system so they could focus on research.



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The ministry called for more intelligent surveying and mapping tools to be developed to help take stock of China’s resources and improve geographic information security.

It sought better understanding of ecological systems, including various landscapes, the identification of land degradation and prevention methods and development of modelling and early warning systems to detect disasters on land and at sea.



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