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The Plan is made in accordance with the overall arrangements specified in the 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China, in combination with the requirements specified in the national plans for science and technology, education and human resources , in conformity with the needs of the development of basic research, and with a view to pursuing a faster and better development of the National Natural Science Fund in the 12th Five-Year Plan period.


The 17th National Congress of CPC emphasizes that China should take the enhancement of indigenous innovation capacity and the building of an innovation oriented country as a core content of the national development strategy, as a key step to boost the overall national strength, and a central link to the transformation of the development pattern and the improvement of the national competitiveness. The fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of CPC further points out that scientific development should be taken as the theme, the acceleration of the transformation of the economic development pattern as the main line, and scientific advance and innovation as the important support for an accelerated transformation of the economic development pattern. Enhancing the overall level of basic research and the capacity for original innovation to serve the building of an innovation oriented country should be an important strategic task of NSFC in the 12th Five-Year Plan period.

Basic research is an important source of the development of high and new technologies, a cradle to foster innovative personnel, a cornerstone to build advanced culture, and an inherent force to drive the future development of science and technology. Basic research determines the width and depth of indigenous innovation. It is a growing feature that contemporary basic research is driven both by curiosity, economic and social development, the cycle time from scientific discovery to technological application has been visibly shortened. Therefore basic research must be substantially strengthened for pursuing wider and deeper indigenous innovation and comprehensively upgrading the capacity for original innovation, integrated innovation and re-innovation based on the assimilation and absorption of imported technology. Basic research is becoming a strategic highland for the frontier of international competition. Revolutionary changes in the field of science and technology have been emerged worldwide. In order to seize opportunities arising from scientific revolution, leading innovative countries have continued to increase their investments in basic research and intensify innovative research and talented personnel training so as to secure a future for their economies. At present, China’s lack of original innovation constitutes the weakest link that constrains the enhancement of the country’s international competitiveness. Therefore, prior arrangements for basic research must be made and the capacity for basic research and international influence must be drastically stimulated to gain the upper hand in future fierce competition. Basic research is the primary power to drive a country’s sustainable development. The economic development is currently in an ever-greater need for basic research to chart the direction of the future in the world. In order to have the initiative in long-term economic development and competitiveness, basic research must be taken as the backup force to provide strong scientific support for increasing the transition of the economic development pattern. The economic and social development in China has provided vast space for the development of basic research. Therefore, the strategic opportunity must be firmly seizes and basic research must be promoted so as to lay a solid foundation for science and technology for facilitating the country’s economic and social development.

Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and with the strong support of the relevant governmental departments and the scientific community, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) has earnestly implemented the 2006~2020 National Plan for the Long and Medium-Term Development of Science and Technology and the 11th Five-Year Development Plan of the National Natural Science Fund; accurately adhered to its strategic position to support basic research, advocate free exploration and play a guiding role;implemented its working principles to respect science, advocate democracy, encourage competition, promote cooperation, inspire innovation and lead the future and complied with its evaluation principle to rely on experts, advocate democracy, encourage competition, and be fair and justice. It has spared no efforts to cultivate innovative research and talents and to constantly improve and develop the science funding system. The 11th five-year plan period was a time in which NSFC made remarkable progress in its work. Over the five years, NSFC made use of 30.04 billion yuan of government fiscal inputs to fund over 92,000 various projects and more than 633,000 researchers. It played a glowingly conspicuous role as a main funding resource for basic research,and its funding pattern became more rational along three categories of programs regarding the research promotion , talent training and infrastructure building. A more comprehensive legal system has been established with a complete set of administrative rules and regulations centered on the Regulations of the National Natural Science Fund (or the Regulations for short) .Various collaborative models were formulated with governmental ministries and commissions, local governments, state-owned enterprises and research institutions, which led to more consolidated strategic coordination. A multi-level, multi-dimensional and wide-ranging network and platform for international cooperation has been established,, which led to more extensive collaboration and exchanges. A cultural atmosphere of NSFC has been developed for emphasizing respect for science, fairness, transparency, and inspiration of innovation, which led to a more distinct concept of cultural building. NSFC has constantly boosted its capacity for scientific management, improved its mechanism for democratic management, enhanced its management according to law, and made positive contributions for perfecting the national innovation system and building China into an innovative country.

In face of future challenges and opportunities, it must be fully aware that NSFC still cannot adequately meet the higher demands of China’s economic and social development and scientific advance. The strategic guidance of NSFC for inspiring original innovation and cultivating scientific highland needs to be further strengthened; the policy measures for balancing disciplinary development and stabilizing talented personnel training need to be further improved, and the implementation of the policy and working principles for promoting management of excellency needs to be further deepened.

The 12th Five-Year Plan period is a crucial time for building a well-off society in an all-around way and to deepen the reform and opening-up policy for accelerating the change of the economic development pattern in China. It is also an important period for NSFC to pursue further development from a new historical starting point. NSFC will , in its work, carry forward its excellent traditions, and unswervingly adhere to its strategic position and working principles, its mechanism for scientific and democratic decision-making, and its principles of management according to law and creating a favorable environment for innovation. Moreover, it will enhance its senses of responsibility and mission, its awareness of opportunities and eventualities, and focus its attention on the strategic overall situation of building an innovative country. It will scientifically grasp the laws governing basic research, actively adapt to changing circumstances, and pursue new and greater development of basic research in the country.

Copyright 2007 Bureau of International Cooperation, NSFC