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China recognizes prominent scientists, premier stresses innovation

CHINA-BEIJING-STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AWARDS (CN)

BEIJING, Jan. 8, 2016 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech during China's State Science and Technology Awards ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 8, 2016. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

BEIJING, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) — China gave awards to outstanding domestic and foreign scientists Friday, amid a government campaign encouraging innovation and more sophisticated industry.

The awards were presented by state leaders including Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli at the annual ceremony.

Premier Li Keqiang said innovation should be placed at the core of national development to maintain economic growth.

Li vowed to nurture new drivers of growth while upgrading traditional industries. He said China will establish more labs, "innovation centers" and other infrastructure for scientific research, nurture internationally competitive sci-tech enterprises and encourage mass entrepreneurship.

Li highlighted the need to reduce overcapacity and connect traditional industries with the Internet.

While asking governments to cut red tape, the premier talked up crowd sourcing and crowd funding as means to finance innovative projects.

The 2015 science awards were granted for 295 research achievements, including 42 "natural science" prizes, 66 "technological invention" prizes, and 187 "sci-tech progress" prizes.

However, the top accolade, the winners of which each get 5 million yuan (762,000 U.S. dollars) for groundbreaking work seen as bringing about huge economic or social benefit, has been left vacant this year.

None of the three nominees achieved the 50-percent share of the votes necessary from the voting committee for the prize to be awarded, according to the National Office for Science and Technology Awards.

This is the second time after 2004 that the top prize has gone to nobody.

Chinese pharmacologist Tu Youyou, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize, was not among the three nominees as no individuals or organizations had nominated her, said an unidentified official with the office.

"We have strictly followed the procedure of selecting prize winners," the official added.

Twenty-five scientists have received the top award in the past 15 years, including "father of hybrid rice" Yuan Longping and nuclear physicist Yu Min.

Pan Jianwei and his team from the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui Province, won the award for natural sciences for their research on quantum teleportation technology.

Of the prize winners in sci-tech progress, two won top honors. Chinese oil refiner Sinopec won for environmentally-friendly production of arene, an important chemical widely used in medicine and pesticide manufacturing. The other went to the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway.

Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli encouraged scientists to take inspiration from the award winners.

FOREIGN SCIENTISTS AWARDED

Seven foreign scientists won this year's International Cooperation Award in Science and Technology.

The recipients were Jan-Christer Janson from Sweden, Kazuki Okimura from Japan, Evgeny Velikhov from Russia, Peter J. Stang and Walter Ian Lipkin from the United States, Carlo Rubbia from Italy and Joannes E. Frencken from the Netherlands.

While meeting with the recipients, Vice Premier Liu Yandong presented certificates and thanked them for their contributions.

"The world is facing climate change, grain security, public health and other global challenges and risks that demand cooperation and joint tackling between countries," she said.

Stressing that "science has no borders," Liu urged Chinese and foreign scientists to cooperate more so as to benefit the whole human race.

She vowed that the Chinese government will create more opportunities for cooperation in science and technology, import high-caliber overseas talent and create a better environment for their career development here.

Since 1995, China has given the International Cooperation Award in Science and Technology to 101 foreign scientists and two international organizations.

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BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — Five minor planets have been named after top Chinese scientists, including the country's first Nobel laureate scientist Tu Youyou, at a ceremony held Monday.

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