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High Tech Research and Development (863) Programme
2004-08-03 16:31


Since the 1980s new tides of technical revolution with the high technologies of information, biology, new materials, etc. at the core have pounded at the whole world. In 1983 the United States put forward the Strategic Defense Initiative (i. e. the Star Wars Initiative), then came the EURICA of Europe, the Comprehensive Outline of Science and Technology Progress in Year 2000 of the member countries of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) at that time, the Policies for the Promotion of Science and Technology in the Next Ten Years of Japan, etc., which are all strategic plans aimed at the 21st century. The implementation of those plans has created impacts on the great development of high technologies in the world.

How China, as a large developing socialist country, keeps abreast of the new situation of rapid development of high technologies in the world, trace the world advanced level and reduce the gap between China and foreign countries has become the focal point attracting the attention of scientific and also the Party Central Committee and the State Council. In March 1986, in view of the impacts of competition in the fields of high technologies in the world on China, four scientists, Wang Daheng, Wang Ganchang, Yang Jiachi and Chen Fanyun, submitted a letter to the central government to suggest that China adopt appropriate countermeasures to trace the development of high technologies in the world. This letter received great attention of Mr. Deng Xiaoping, who gave the written instruction "Quick decision should be made on this smatter without any delay ". The instructions of Mr. Deng were a great decision with far reaching significance. Since then the development of research on high technologies has entered a new stage in China. Because the letter of the scientists and the written instructions were both put forward in March 1986, hence came the name of "863" for the magnificent programme.

The High tech Research and Development (863) Programme has entered the Ninth Five-year Plan period as a phase of the most intensive work, after the Seventh Five-year Plan period as a phase of coming into normal operation and the Eighth Five-year Plan period as a phase of tackling the most difficult problems.

At present, the second high-tech research and development programme of China for the 21st century is being formulated. At present there are totally eight fields and 20 subjects with the 863 programme, in which the Ministry of Science and Technology is responsible for organizing implementation in the six fields of biology, information, automation, energy, materials and marine technologies.


1. Guiding Principles

China is a developing country. It is impossible and also unnecessary for China to invest large amounts of manpower, materials and financial resources to develop high technologies comprehensively on a large scale in a long period. Therefore, the general policy for the selection of objectives of research and development for the 863 Programme is "Combine military use with civil use, with stress on the latter".The development of high technologies is mainly for developing the national economy, training is mainly for developing the national economy, training talents; the policy "Limit objectives and concentrate on focal points" is applied to the selection of projects.

2. Strategic Goals

With the efforts of 15 years, the 863 Programme will reach the following goals:

(1) Trace the international level and reduce the gap between China and foreign countries in the several most important fields and strive for breakthroughs in the fields in which China holds superiority so as to create conditions for the economic development and national defense around year 2000, in particular the early next century;

(2) Train a new generation of high level scientific and technological talents;

(3) Promote the development of science and technology in related fields through "umbrella radiating " effect;

(4) Lay an advanced technical basis for the economic and social development in the early next century and create favorable conditions for the development of high technologies;

(5) Closely link the achievements with other programmes of extension and application so that they can be quickly transformed into productive force and create economic benefits.

3. Objectives for the Ninth Five-year Plan Period

Comprehensively achieve the strategic goals of the 863 Programme, make eight to ten breakthroughs in important basic technologies that are closely related with the national economy and the people's livelihood and have the prospects of industrialization so as to make contribution to the solution of the pressing problems limiting the national economic development and to the achievement of the second phase strategic goals of the state, and lay a solid basis for the sustainable, rapid development and industrialization of high technologies in China in the next century.

(1) Join the advanced ranks in some aspect of the fields of biology, information, automation, energy and new materials and strive to retain or reach the internationally advanced level in some aspects, promote the technical development in related fields and industries, increase the strength of science and technology and integrated national power of China.

(2) Provide technical support to the development of high yield agriculture, biological medicine industry, information industry, new materials industry and advanced manufacture industry, to the establishment of future energy industries and the national security, accelerate the application of achievement of laboratories to industries, prop up and develop a batch of new type industries of high technologies and reform traditional industries by linking the 863 Programme with other programmes and economic sectors, localities and enterprises so as to achieve higher economic and social benefits and make significant contribution to the solution of hot, difficult problems of the country.

(3) Establish and improve a few of research and development bases of high technologies in order to create favorable conditions for the study, development and sustainable advancement of high technologies in China.

(4) Train talents of high technologies, particularly complex leader type talents of strategic thinking and inter-discipline synthesis ability who will work into the next century, bring up and retain a team of about 10000 persons for the study and development of high technologies and a great deal of scientists of great academic attainments to take up a position in the frontiers of research of high technologies in the world; bring up a batch of experts of engineering technology with a solid technical basis and strong innovation ability and a batch of entrepreneurs of high technologies who are capable of enterprise operation and management and a batch of experts of modern scientific and technological management.


During the Ninth Five-year Plan period, the 863 Programme is implemented by two levels. One level is to directly contribute to achievement of the objectives of national economic and social development for year 2000 and conduct the three campaigns of promoting the level of science and technology and production of agriculture, reforming traditional industries and promoting the industrialization of high technologies by concentrating the whole force of the 863 Programme and closely cooperating with departments and localities; and the other level is to make breakthroughs in the main key technologies in selected fields, promote the transformation of research achievements into productive force and achieve the defined strategic goals of every field.

The three campaigns of the first level are to:

1. Energetically develop new/high technologies for the agriculture of high yield high quality and high effectiveness and promote the extension and application of those technologies so as to contribute to the achievement to the state objectives to increase agricultural output by year 2000.

Develop the key technologies for agricultural biological engineering and organize extension and application of those technologies on a large scale so as to make them important elements promoting the agricultural development in china and lay a solid basis for the achievement of the state objectives to increase grain production and for the promotion of agricultural production level. For example, cultivate a batch of high quality, high yield and stress resistant varieties of grain cops, cash crops and horticultural crops and conduct demonstrative planting on a large scale; and cultivate several new varieties of animals needed by the people's daily life in large quantities and conduct pilot tests. Strive by every means to make more contribution to the increase of grain output in the Ninth Five-year Plan period.

2. Study and develop automation technologies suitable for the conditions of China and provide a technical platform for the modernized management of enterprise to meet the needs by manufacture industry and service trades.

Make automation technologies, particularly CIMS, a propeller to promote the innovative and international competitive capacities of industrial technologies, and guide industries to shift form the traditional mode of economic growth to the intensive growth type. During the Ninth Five-year Plan period, for example, engineering for demonstrative application of CIMS will be constructed in dozens of representative enterprises of above ten sectors and the CIMS technologies will be extended to about 100 large and medium-sized enterprises, with the support of departments and localities and in combination with the technical reform of robot will be implemented in the national mainstay industries of automobile, electronics, etc.

3. Make breakthroughs in the high technologies with the Chinese characteristics and intellectual property rights to lay a basis for the formation of high-tech industries of biological medicine, information, new materials, etc.,

Select several high technologies in which China has superiority for the breakthrough of industrialization, support the establishment and development of high-tech industries and make the 863 Programme a starting Point of high tech industries, With the support of the 863 Programme, the industry of biological high technology should be initially formed and a batch of high tech enterprises of information, manufacture and new materials with international competitive capacity should be established, For example it is planned to put above the biological engineering medicines and vaccines into production with all products to be sold to markets and the planned output value is 5 billion yuan; the industrialization of above the important new materials will be promoted to replace imported products and create 5 billion yuan of output value; dozens of mainstay enterprises of industries of high performance computers, large digital programme-controlled exchanger, etc. will be fostered so as to help increase the share of domestic information equipment products in domestic and foreign markets in the Ninth-Five year Plan period.

The main tasks of the second level are to:

1. Continue to develop the research on agricultural biological and medical biological technologies and further reduce the gap between China and developed countries in the overall level of biological technologies;

2. Study and develop the large scale parallel processing technology, develop key optoelectronic components, make breakthroughs in the new type earth observation technology, master modern communication technology and acquire local superiority in international competition.

3. Master parallel engineering and application technology, develop the key and supporting technologies needed by industrial robot and join the internationally advanced ranks in the main aspects of industrial automation;

4. Develop advanced nuclear reactor technologies and establish corresponding experimental rectors for peace purpose;

5. Develop the key, new materials urgently needed by the development of national mainstay industries, provision of accessories for national defense type engineering and nationalization of production with imported equipments (production lines), and raise the overall level of research on material sciences in China


1. Concentrating Resources on Important Projects

During the Ninth Five-year Plan period, the 863 Programme will be managed by two levels, important projects and subject projects. It will be ensured that more than 50% of funds will be used for important projects and the annual per capita investment intensity will be over 75000 to 10000 yuan. The management of important projects will be conscientiously strengthened and every effort will be made to ensure the achievement of the objectives of important projects.

2. Strengthen the Extension and Application of Achievements

Strengthen the research on the application of achievements in laboratories to engineering, accelerate the extension and application of mature technologies and products, extend the support to the projects with promise of extension application and industrialization beyond the completion of the projects, pay attention to attracting enterprises or users to participate or invest in the transformation of achievements, in particular encouraging early participation and investment, and further mobilize the investment and support of governmental departments, sectors and localities.

3. Strengthen Management, Improve Managerial Institution and Operational Mechanism

Expand the range of experts and improve the overall structure of expert teams by drawing in more entrepreneurs, market analysis and managerial experts to participate in the decision making and management of the 863 Programme, Strengthen evaluation, standardize and institutionalize evaluation. Improve the existing evaluation and monitoring systems, strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of expert organizations and experts, conduct engineering supervision or other supervision mechanism for important engineering type projects. Give play to the function of economic lever.

4. Improve Base Construction and Training

Conscientiously summarize the experiences of construction of bases for the research and development of high technologies, reform the operational mechanism and conduct management by kind. Formulate concrete measures to retain talents and stabilize a team of about 15000 members, dominated by youths, for the research and development of high technologies, well construct post-doctor floating stations, continue the youth foundation and network foundation and increase the intensity of input. Entrust youths  important tasks, provide multiple approaches for training youths, and give awards and honors to those with achievements.

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