Monday, November 7, 2011

China To Lead Technology Cooperation in Asia Pacific Region

The findings of science and technology in the 21st century is disseminated faster in a globalized world. However, competition arising from different countries and regions still exists. One good example is the setting up of research centers in Europe in 1960s in order to compete with the United States. Such centers in Europe consolidate resources and manpower from different countries to focus on research work together. One successful case is the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva (CERN).
Highest-Energy Particle Accelerator
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. The LHC was built with the intention of testing Higgs boson and the large family of new particles. It was built in collaboration with many scientists and engineers from various countries in the world. Their long term research had contributed to mankind.
Why are European countries willing to invest in millions of euros to conduct research on items which do not have commercial value? Apart from hoping to overtake the United States in their research, it also reflects that hereditary European culture of promoting science and technology. Science is one major component in human civilization and the Europe would not want to be left behind the United States.
Changing Economic Scenario
The United States and Europe are still leading Asia in scientific research. With the change of economic scenario in 21st century, China has become the second economic giant in the world while India is also rising. With Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore growing stronger by the day, one can't undermine the economic strength of Asia Pacific region. It is not impossible for it to overtake Europe and United States. The Asia Pacific should look into how to catch up in its research work in science in order to contribute to human civilizations.
First and foremost, whether Asia Pacific countries are able to contribute, to a large extend it will depend on the determination of political leaders. The setting up of CERN is the consensus reached among the political leaders in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and others. Such set up is impossible without the support of politicians. Chinese leaders are also supportive of scientific research and they are also aware of its significance. When Mao Zedong met up with Yang Zhenning and Li Zhengdao, he showed keen interest in science. Mao was discussing the structure of elementary particle with Yang. In a thick Hunan accent, he told Yang that in China, ancient philosophers also tried to explain the structure of substance. Mao also met with Nobel prize winner Abdus Salam and Japanese physics scientist Sakata Shoichi. In his antirightist movement, Zhou Enlai protected scientist first. He also had a name list of scientists to be protected. Many are experts of atomic, missiles and satellites. In 1979, when Li proposed setting up a high energy accelerator, Deng Xiaoping immediately agreed with the proposal. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao also realize the importance of science. One can say that several generations of Chinese leaders support science.
More than 30 years after the reform and opening up policy, China has entered a phase where its economy is vibrant. Apart from upgrading its standard in science, technology and education level, it should also be contributing to science in the world. By becoming the leader of science and technology in Asia Pacific region, it should be assisting third world developing countries to speed up their leaps in science and education.
At this moment it is still premature for China or India to set a center like CERN. But China or India should take the cue from Prof Abdus Salam's experience and method to set up International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) 40 years ago. The main aim of the center is to assist scientists in third world countries for them to have a chance to interact with scientists from first world countries. They can also conduct research in the centre for several months to a year. Salam's center receive support from the Italian Government, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UNESCO. It is pragmatic to set up similar research center in China.
Assisting Mankind to Progress
Scientists in developing countries lack funds and research facilities. To groom them one would have to start from areas in mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical chemistry, theoretical biology and computer science to be effective.
For the past 40 over years, Salam's center groomed many world class scientists. It has also mobilized the science development in Asia, Africa and Latin America. China, India and other countries should also tell the world that they too, are concerned with assisting mankind to progress further to consolidate Asia Pacific for joint development and not only interested in domestic economy or benefits of technology.

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