Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Legislation proposed in China to promote innovation

AP , BEIJING

Chinese lawmakers have proposed legislation that aims to remove the stigma attached to failure in scientific research, as part of efforts to promote innovation and clamp down on rampant fraud in China's scientific community, state media reported yesterday.

Scientists will no longer need to fear they are ruining their chances of future funding by taking risks under the legislation now being discussed by the Standing Committee of the People's Congress, Xinhua news agency said.

"Scientists and technicians who have initiated research with a high risk of failure will still have their expenses covered if they can provide evidence that they have tried their best when they failed to achieve their goals," Xinhua said, citing the draft amendment to the Law on Science and Technology Progress.

Pressure on scientists to report only successes has resulted in stifled research and widespread theft and forgery of results as China tries to promote homegrown technological advances to match the country's economic progress, Xinhua said.

Last year, a dean at one of China's top universities was fired after his claims to have invented a new computer chip turned out to be a costly fraud.

Innovation requires a relaxed academic atmosphere that allows scientists to take risks, Xinhua quoted Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang (萬鋼) as saying.

It cited the research of Thomas Edison, saying the inventor of the light bulb failed more than 1,000 times before finding the right material to make a filament.

In February last year, the government announced an ambitious 15-year plan to pursue 11 fields including genetics, nuclear power, lasers and agriculture in an effort to develop "frontier technologies."

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