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China To Boost Science, Tech Spending Nearly 20%

China will increase its spending on science and technology by nearly 20% this year in a move to remain competitive internationally, the government said March 10. The central government will allocate 71.6 billion yuan (US$8.8 billion) from its budget for science and technology in 2006, up 19.2% over last year, said Zhang Shaochun, assistant minister of finance.

The State Council last month said 2.5% of China's gross domestic product (GDP) would be set aside for research and development over the next 15 years, up from 1.23% in 2002.

Xu Guanhua, Minister of Science and Technology, said unless the country keeps up its investment in the science and technology sector, it will not be able hit the national target of doubling its per capita GDP by 2020.

The government will not only allocate more money but also encourage all segments of society, including companies, to put emphasis on research and development through measures including tax incentives." China must innovate and develop technology to keep up with globalization, Xu Guanhua, Minister of Science and Technology said. "With the rise of labor cost, (our) comparative advantage is weakening," he added. "We don't have any choice."

In the next five years, the country will increase spending in key scientific infrastructure and will also invest in 16 projects including nuclear power stations and high-speed rail technology, Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission said. Other types of research will also be targeted, including biomedical sciences and coal mine technology.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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