Science And Education To Help The Country Flourish - Cornerstone Ceremony For The Sino-German Science Centre In Beijing

June 04, 1998

To the sound of a Bavarian march Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), and Professor Zhang Cunhao, President of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), laid the foundation stone for a Sino-German Centre for the Promotion of Science in Beijing on 26 May 1998. On the same day, Professor Winnacker and the Secretary General of the DFG, Dr. Reinhard Grunwald, signed the agreements for constructing the building in the Beijing district of Haidian. "The centre will help to intensify the scientific exchange between German and Chinese researchers and provide information on the two countries' research scenes", the DFG President said in his speech during the ceremony.

At the reception for the German delegation that followed, Mr. Li Lanqing, deputy Prime Minister of the Peoples' Republic of China and member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, emphasised the importance of basic research for his country and expressed his desire for an intensification of international scientific exchange. "One plus one does not just make two, but much more", he said in the presence of Ms. Zhu Lilan, the recently appointed Chinese science minister. "Science and education are to help this country flourish." The Chinese leadership under their new Prime Minister, Mr. Zhu Rongji, consider it one of their most important tasks to push China's development by means of education and research.

A secretariat appointed by the DFG's Senate committee for international relations, the Sino-German Centre for Scientific Cooperation (ChiWi) will be responsible for coordination on the German side; the activities of the founding phase will be scientifically supported by Professor Ulrich Steinmüller, Berlin Technical University. The project is an integral part of the Federal Government's Asia concept. The provisional agreement had been signed in the presence of the Federal Chancellor as early as November 1995.

Early on, the DFG had established contact with its partner organisation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). This important government funding organisation was founded in 1986 to strengthen basic research in China in the field of natural sciences. Its organisational structure is modelled closely on that of the DFG.

For the future, both partners plan to develop a network to exchange information on the two countries' research scenes, to support joint research projects of German and Chinese scientists and to document research results. The database will not only help to find cooperation partners in the various disciplines, but will also provide access to information on funding programmes and funds available on both sides.

The centre will be built in the immediate vicinity of two of China's finest universities, Qinghua University and Beijing University. The building will cost DM 5 million to be provided by the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany; construction will be supervised on the German side by the Bonn architect Sepp Roessle.

Representatives of various German and Chinese science organisations will meet in Berlin from 5 to 7 November 1998 for a symposium entitled "Basic research and national objectives". It is also planned to hold rainbow meetings, i.e. informal meetings of junior German and Chinese scientists. Under the joint chairmanship of Professors Uli Schwarz, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Hans-Hilger Ropers, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, and Eberhard Passarge, Institute for Human Genetics at Essen University, young researchers will meet in the Fragrant Hills near Beijing in April 1999 to exchange views on "Genes, Evolution and Disease".

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Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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