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Top scientists praised by vice-premier

Zhang Zhihao
Updated: Nov 04,2020 09:26    China Daily

China will continue to be open and collaborative in science and technology research and foster more quality talent to make original breakthroughs in basic research, officials and scientists said on Nov 3.

Speaking in Beijing at the presentation ceremony of The Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation Prize, one of China's most prestigious science awards, Vice-Premier Liu He said the country has attached unprecedented importance to the role science, technology and innovation play in modernization and national development.

Noted respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan and archaeologist Fan Jinshi won this year's HLHL Foundation Science and Technology Achievement Award, the highest accolade for scientists who dedicate their lives to pushing the boundaries of science.

Liu said China's scientific community can learn from the two exemplary models and focus on tackling the world's scientific frontiers, creating innovations to meet the nation's needs and promote high-quality economic growth, and safeguarding the lives and health of the people.

China will optimize its system of innovation, improve the innovative capability of companies and unleash the potential of science talent, he said, adding that it will remain open and pursue international cooperation, with the aim of becoming a global hub of innovation that allows top talent to succeed.

Zhong said China has entered a "golden age" for science research and commercialization due to the high expectations and support by the nation and its people for the scientific community.

"There are still many bottleneck challenges in scientific research waiting for us to overcome," he said. "This is why we need to pay greater attention to basic research."

For instance, he said, scientists have yet to understand how the novel coronavirus spreads, as well as how it interacts with human cells and the immune system. Only when researchers have a fundamental understanding of the virus can better treatment and vaccines be made, Zhong said.

He encouraged China's scientific community to keep working hard and create innovations that can help the nation prosper.

Fan said she has dedicated her life to a single cause: researching and preserving the cultural heritage in the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang, Gansu province.

With new technologies and strong government support, as well as decades of hard work by archaeologists, the Mogao Caves went from a desolate heritage site on the brink of being lost to history to a magnificent landmark recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, she said.

"I am proud to devote my entire life to protecting this cultural heritage," she said. "I may be over 80 years old, but I am still motivated to continue my research to serve the country and its people."