U.S. National Science Foundation Opens Beijing Office

Washington - Representatives of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of State, the Chinese government and Chinese scientific societies celebrated the opening of NSF's research operations office in Beijing May 24.

"China and the United States have a long history of cooperation in scientific research," said NSF Director Arden Bement.

Bement was joined by U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt; Chen Yiyu, president of the Chinese National Natural Sciences Foundation; Bai Chunli, executive vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and William Chang, director of the new office.

"It is important for the U.S. scientific community, especially young researchers, to be aware of and consider collaborating with colleagues in China in this environment," said Chang.

The NSF is a U.S. government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $5.58 billion, according to an NSF press release.

According to the NSF report, Science and Engineering Indicators 2006, China ranked fourth in the world in the year 2000 in research and development, with $48.9 billion in expenditures.

Two years later, the country ranked third, behind the United States and Japan, spending an estimated $72 billion on research and development.

"Over the years, Bement added, "the National Science Foundation has worked with many organizations in China to bring together world-class scientists and engineers from our two nations. These collaborations have not only advanced the frontiers of discovery, they have also established relationships of mutual respect and friendship."

The ceremony was held at the NSF Beijing office, part of the U.S. Embassy in China.

"With China's increasing importance as a world science and technology ‘player,’" said  Randt, "it is vital for the United States to sustain interactions with international counterparts and specifically with China's rapidly growing science sector."

The Beijing office, which began operations in September 2005, is managed by the NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE), which serves as a focal point for international science and engineering activities both inside and outside the foundation.

The NSF Beijing office is NSF's third office outside the United States. The others are in Paris and Tokyo.

The May 24th opening ceremony was followed by a U.S.-China science and technology conference including 150 distinguished scientists and government officials.

The NSF funds reach all 50 states and several countries through grants to nearly 1,700 U.S. universities and institutions.

Each year, the NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding and makes nearly 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards more than $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

The text of the press release and additional information about the NSF are available at the foundation’s Web site.