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Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 12:35:40 -0400
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
From: "Steven A. Leibo, The Sage Colleges" <leibo@cnsvax.albany.edu>
Subject: H-ASIA: PRC Intellectual Achievements

PRC Intellectual Achievements

A dialog on H-Asia list, 18 June 1998

Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 12:35:40 -0400
From: chenj <chenj@YorkU.CA>

May I ask our members to name 10 landmarks in each of the following areas achieved by PRC intellectuals since the foundation of the Republic and explain their choices. I am thinking of such areas as humanities (including literature and performing arts), social sciences, natural sciences, technology, and medical arts. Perhaps we should exclude the intellectual achievements of Chairman Mao, since he seems to me one of a very special kind.

Jerome Chen <chenj@yorku.ca>

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 23:43:02 +0800
From: David Cowhig <dcowhig@public3.bta.net.cn>

May I suggest taking a look at one PRC official answer to this question. After the May 1995 Chinese national S&T conference, the State Science and Technology Commission put out a book (published by the Central Party School) entitled "Science and Technology for a Properous China" [Kejiao Xingguo -- must still be a catchy slogan since Premier Zhu is still using it]. The editor of the book, Ms. Zhu Lilan, is now the Minister of Science and Technology in the new government. The book is very frank on the achievements and problems of Chinese science. The book is summarized on the U.S. Embassy Beijing web page at http://www.usembassy-china.gov/english/sandt/index.htm (new address). The China server URL is http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/english/sandt/index.htm

Here is a summary of a section on PRC scientific achievements since 1949:

The Past—Chinese S&T Achievements Since 1949

Fostering the growth of a great army of scientific and technical workers has been one of the principal aims of the Chinese Communist Party since the birth of New China in 1949. When the PRC was founded China had only 50,000 scientific and technical workers; with the return of prominent scientists from abroad during the early 1950s the PRC was able to establish 840 research organizations throughout China and increase the number of scientific and technical workers to 400,000. International isolation, the Great Leap Forward and the three years of difficulties (during which many research workers were hungry), the break with the Soviet Union, and then the ten years of disorder that was the Cultural Revolution severely damaged Chinese S&T.

Deng Xiaoping said "If since the 1960s China had not built an atom bomb, a hydrogen bomb and artificial satellites, then China would not have the important position it enjoys in the world today. These things reflect the ability of a nation are milestones in the development of a nation and a people." During the ten years of chaos that was the Cultural Revolution, China lost a golden opportunity for rapid technological development, for it was the during 1960s and 1970s that the economies of Japan, the United States and the four dragons of East Asia took advantage of high tech advances to achieve high rates of economic growth. Nonetheless, science and technology have advanced faster in China over the last 45 years than ever before. Despite many difficulties, Chinese science and technology workers have upheld the basic line of the Communist Party, have boldly explored new frontiers, put their ideas into practice, and laid the foundations for the development of science and technology as well as for the economy as a whole.

Chinese scientists have also made important contributions in the area of creating new, highly productive strains of hybrid wheat, in high temperature superconductivity, and high energy physics research done at the Beijing electron accelerator. Progress in agricultural science made it possible to boost Chinese grain production from l00 million metric tons in 1949 to 435 million tons in 1990 and meat production from 2.2 million tons to 28 million tons over the same period. After 1949 China made many kinds of foreign technology indigenous to China by creating its own research, development, design, and manufacturing systems in many sectors. Chinese medical achievements include an effective abortifacient drug (Chinese trichosanthes root), hepatitis B vaccine, and methods for early diagnosis of cancer of the liver or of the digestive tract.