This month, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will open a joint centre, the Sino-German Centre for Science Promotion, in Beijing. In his editorial for Next Wave's feature, Reinhard Grunwald, general secretary of the DFG, shares with us his views and visions of the scientific exchange with the People's Republic of China, including the great opportunities this exchange brings to young scientists on both sides.
When in 1994 representatives of the national Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) agreed to extend their scientific co-operation, they had a vision. Their already established activities, based on a memorandum of understanding that had been signed in 1988, had reached a state of steady exchange of scientists and delegations that was satisfactory to both partners. These successful activities, however, led to a common conviction that much more could be done. Many more scientists, especially younger ones, looked for opportunities for extended work abroad, research groups looked for partners, and many topics waited to be discussed. Thus the vision was to enlarge the basis for Sino-German scientific co-operation considerably, scale up common activities, and create the Joint Centre for Science Promotion. To transform the vision into reality took 5 years and 5 million DM, which DFG gratefully accepted from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. Planning started in 1995, the building is now finished, and the centre is operational.
The main task of the centre is to advance scientific co-operation in basic research in natural and engineering sciences and in relevant interdisciplinary approaches. It will seek to improve co-operative instruments and will aim particularly at attracting young scientists, the future leading actors of our bilateral relations. Another important part of the centre's mission will be activities to improve framework conditions for scientific exchange between China and Germany. Both partners are willing to contribute to effective and efficient work by the centre to improve scientific and personal relations between Chinese and German scientists, between their national and international partner organisations, and between our universities and research centres, thus contributing to friendly relations between the the countries.
Both partners have appointed experienced representatives to lead the centre. They will advise scientists interested in co-operation with partners in the other country. A series of successful workshops and conferences has already led to an intensive demand for further action and to preparations for new joint activities, scientific publications, strategic projects, and seminars on management topics. The centre will serve as a catalyst to Sino-German scientific co-operation; for example, it is prepared to host conferences and guest scientists and is well equipped to answer questions concerning Sino-German scientific co-operation.
A good symbol for the work of the Centre is the rainbow, a colourful bridge and sign of peace and happiness.
This is an opportunity to thank all the many hands and heads who transformed the vision of 1995 to reality today. The partners invite everybody interested in Sino-German scientific co-operation to join us in our pleasure that this important step could be taken. A new chapter in the book of this thriving co-operation has been opened.