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Premier: Give researchers more autonomy in use of funds

Updated: Jul 5,2018 2:14 PM

Premier Li Keqiang delivers a report on economic and social development during the 19th Meeting of the Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the 14th Meeting of the Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) in Beijing, capital of China, May 29, 2018.

Premier Li Keqiang said scientific researchers should be trusted and respected and given more autonomy in the use of funds.

A State Council executive meeting on July 4 decided to reform the management of scientific research, reducing repetitive application documents, evaluations and audits in scientific projects, and allowing researchers to use professional services such as accounting.

Budget making of scientific projects will be simplified, and the proportion of indirect costs of basic research projects will be increased. Researchers will be given the right to own or use their achievements.

“We must delegate powers to researchers and free them from burdensome permits and paperwork,” the Premier said at the meeting.

He recalled his speech at a conference with top academicians in the nation, saying that he got most applause when he mentioned cutting permits, applications and checks. “We must understand the message in the applause,” said the Premier on July 4.

He also told an ancient Chinese story of “buying the bone of a swift horse” at the meeting. “It is difficult to find a swift horse, so someone spends five hundred gold to buy the skull of a horse. It is because of such commitment that makes swift horses willing to come.”

“We should have such kind of commitment,” he said.

He also said developing high-end technologies depends mainly on brains, which cannot be replaced with machines. The Premier raised that point because some scientists who came back from overseas told him the limitation on personnel expense was too tight.

He asked officials of State Council departments to make detailed steps on that issue.

“We must remove the restraints on researchers as soon as possible so that they can devote themselves to their research,” the Premier said.