China has its own science and technology tradition as one of the four major civilized states in ancient times. And as western culture made access to the Orient at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century, science and technology created in Europe began to be introduced into China gradually. The development of modern science and technology promoted by governments started at the period of “Westernization Movement” in the middle of the 19th century. However, its systematic development was in the 20th century. After the founding of New China in 1949, science and technology in this country began to develop as part of the modernization and have developed rapidly in the recent 20 years of reform and opening.
After century-long chaos caused by the civil war in China ended 50 years ago, political unification and real, significant independence appeared in China that we had never had in modern history, and we began to devote ourselves to economic, scientific and cultural development under planning. In the First Five-Year Plan period a complete set of preliminary modern science and technology system was roughly formed. Then the 12-Year Plan laid a foundation for the modernization of science and technology in China. Since the policy of reform and opening to the outside world was adopted, the reform of science and technology system accelerated the process of turning science and technology achievements into productivity, and the strategy of sustainable development and prospering China through science and education made the development of science and technology a national policy. The Chinese science and technology has, under the guidance of various national programs, made remarkable contributions to the national economic construction, sustainable development as well as national security.
Over the past 50 years, the development of science and technology in China has significantly changed the prosperity of Chinese society. Each basic discipline has had a comprehensive deployment and development from organization to research teams. Complete sets of industrial technologies have also been established. The technology level as a whole has basically reached that of developed countries in the 1980s. Owing to several generations’ improvement of farm crop seeds and adoption of proper cultivation techniques, 1.2 billion people can have ample food and clothing under conditions that the average amount of land per capita in China is only 1/3 of that in the world. Average life-span of the people has reached 72 years due to the development of medical science and healthcare system. A relatively complete system has been established with regard to the exploration and utilization of earth and ocean resources; the forecasting and harnessing of weather and natural disaster; and the protection and renovation of water conservancy facilities and eco-environment. The Chinese science and technology is advancing with the time, it will make new contributions to the overall construction of a comparatively well-off society in China.
Chinese scientists and engineers, working in various academic disciplines and technology fields, serve the Chinese modernization with full devotion and diligence. They have not only made significant contributions to increase Chinese economic position and enhance comprehensive state power, but also created conditions to alleviate ecological unbalance and environmental deteriorating trend for the sustainable social and economic development. The followings are some major achievements made by Chinese scientists and engineers.