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China and Global Change: Opportunities for Collaboration 6 Summary INTRODUCTION The major thrust of this report has been to ask—in a systematic way—how Chinese science is responding to global change and to identify opportunities for and constraints to collaboration in global change research. One of the guiding beliefs of the panel has been that successful collaboration stems from an understanding of respective capabilities, respect for national priorities, and a desire to share knowledge and information. In this light, the report has emphasized opportunities for global change science for the Chinese themselves, for potential collaboration with the U.S. scientific community, and for the integration of Chinese research into major international global change research programs. Even though China is a developing country, it has a substantial scientific infrastructure. As this report has demonstrated, China is organizing a global change program of significant potential. As such, it is well positioned among developing countries to respond to calls from the international scientific community to participate in global research regimes. The extent of Chinese participation in collaborative global change projects will be determined by China's domestic priorities, availability of funding, human resources, scientific capabilities, and the responsiveness of the international scientific community to these factors.
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China and Global Change: Opportunities for Collaboration In order to understand opportunities for global change research in China, it is useful to look at the panel's findings from both topdown and bottom-up perspectives. Science in China is driven by government policies and priorities, and so is inherently a top-down enterprise. First, governmental interest and resources definitely favor studies of the impacts of environmental change on China, as opposed to the impact of China on global change. Consequently, Chinese researchers have focused on questions that stress the human dimensions of environmental change and on the social and economic impacts of climate change. Second, funding for global change research has been slow in developing. The main source for these funds, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), does not have the budget necessary to fund the broader based or larger scale research that many global change issues require. Third, funding and research are organized along disciplinary lines, which complicate the development of interdisciplinary research. Fourth, scientific institutions are vertically organized and integrated, which can discourage cooperation. From the bottom-up perspective, the Chinese scientific community almost universally considers working on global change topics to be a challenge, an opportunity and, given China's vulnerability to climatic disasters, a responsibility. Moreover, these scientists are pursuing this research with energy, commitment, and creativity. It is important to note that many of the problems Chinese scientists face in developing a global change research program are similar to those faced by scientists in the United States, including resistance from institutions organized to address traditionally well-defined and more disciplinary problems, lack of appropriately cross-trained scientists, and the difficulties of developing funding for new programs. Problems of data availability and the cost of data indicate the lack of organizational integration and policies that promote proprietary interests. When data are not available across structures, institutions respond by generating the data they need themselves. When institutions can control data, then data can become commodities. Moreover, decreases in funding are increasing the pressure to sell data profitably. The way Chinese data are managed can be a major stumbling block to collaboration. Resources and rewards are few for carrying out basic documentation. Because data sharing and intercomparison are not promoted, the incentive for documenting data for others' use is reduced. Because research results are often published in journals of the institutes in which the research was conducted, the lack of external peer review by the broader scientific community reduces the
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China and Global Change: Opportunities for Collaboration motivation to document one's work. Appropriate documentation of data and procedures does not appear to be a regular criteria in publishing. CONTRIBUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS It is important to emphasize that the panel did not set out to provide an exhaustive investigation into all aspects of science and policies relevant to global change. Rather, by using Chinese national committees to indicate the organization of global change research, the panel provided an overview of activities relevant to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) and the World Climate Research Program (WCRP). More in-depth reporting was confined to specific areas of interest to the panel. Consequently, the panel's findings are not comprehensive, nor are recommendations made that would overreach the information the panel was able to collect. Ideally, a successful global change research program would consist of fully integrated institutions, staffed with well-trained and enthusiastic scientists who work with sophisticated equipment, generate high-quality databases, have a robust modeling capability, and enjoy strong government support on the questions pertinent to the issue. In the panel's opinion, no global change research program in the world meets these criteria. Thus, while problems exist in the Chinese global change program and in the way science is organized in China, it should be pointed out that the Chinese are in good company. More importantly, the Chinese are already making significant contributions to global change research and have the potential for even greater contributions. In the context of international collaboration, these considerations could be even more significant if the following findings are considered: Increased research on the impacts of China's pollution, especially on coal combustion emissions, when coupled with assessments of these impacts on the global atmosphere, oceans, and terrestrial ecosystems, would be a contribution to international understanding of global change processes. Because science is closely tied to economic considerations, China has the potential to make significant contributions to research on the human dimensions of global change. China's geography offers important and unique opportunities for global change studies. For paleoclimate research, the Loess Plateau has accessible loess deposits containing an extensive
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China and Global Change: Opportunities for Collaboration paleorecord. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau itself modifies climate as well as being a site for paleoclimate research on its mid-latitude glaciers and saline lakes. China's extensive and highly populated coastline will provide opportunities to study land-ocean interactions in the coastal zone. China's extensive historical writings contain proxy data for climate change that are a unique contribution to research on past changes. Historical analyses of climate, land cover and land use, hydrology, sediment flux, and sea-level changes constitute an extensive component of Chinese research. Contributions will be strengthened by coupling these analyses with prospective research designed to provide projections of future changes. Ministries play key roles in disseminating emissions data that are crucial inputs to global models. Data currently available are not sufficient to carry out research that is important to Chinese policy makers as well as the international community. The establishment and availability of national inventories of fossil fuel emissions, trace gas production rates, and soil properties (e.g., texture, organic carbon storage, and water-holding capacity) will strengthen Chinese contributions. Increased funding through NSFC would expand opportunities for interdisciplinary and collaborative global change research. Research on surface and radiative fluxes in agriculture and observational programs in hydrology are relevant to global change research programs. Contributions from agricultural and water resource research institutions are expected to increase as they become more fully integrated under the rubric of global change studies. Interest in developing global change education programs to meet both national and regional needs deserves further attention and funding. The biosciences are poised to make substantive progress if more resources such as computers and training in modeling were available. Increasing access to computers would also force improvements in data management, including documentation and quality assurance and quality control procedures. Agreements concerning access to, standards, and sound management of data would strengthen Chinese science itself as well as encourage cooperative research. Contributions will be determined in part by progress in reforming science education and in attracting students back to China after they receive Ph.Ds in foreign countries.
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China and Global Change: Opportunities for Collaboration PROSPECTS FOR COLLABORATION For Chinese science, cooperative projects have been a vehicle for the transfer of knowledge, techniques, and equipment and have created important training opportunities. Domestic funding for research remains very limited, and governmental support will likely remain driven by domestic priorities. The level of collaboration and participation in international global change research programs will be highly dependent upon funding from international sources. Interest in carrying out cooperative science in China is driven by scientific questions. On the Chinese side, this mutual interest is additionally driven by training, equipment, and funding needs. Consequently, reaching agreement on project details can be time consuming and complex. The panel found a high potential for increased cooperation in all areas it examined. But, the development of actual projects will require substantive resources to organize and administer the projects. Furthermore, it will be important to fund projects that allow foreign scientists to collaborate in China for longer periods of time, such as from 6 months to 1 or more years. These conditions will be especially important in larger-scale projects and in any project requiring access to tightly controlled or fragmented sources of data. Prospects for collaboration with American scientists have been adversely affected by increasing political tensions between the United States and China that began with the Chinese government's crackdown on students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Since then, the slowing American economy and tightened research budgets have caused a retrenchment and rethinking of American science priorities. Still, as this report attests, American and Chinese scientific cooperation has been built on a strong foundation of mutual interest and respect, which will continue to foster cooperative initiatives even in leaner times. The panel was not charged with making comprehensive recommendations about how the U.S. government or the organizing units of the international research programs should address China's role in their respective global change research programs. Rather, the panel viewed its charge mainly as an exercise in organizing information about Chinese global change research in order to increase foreign understanding, which would, in turn, stimulate initiatives with Chinese colleagues at many levels of interaction. To this end, the panel makes the following suggestions for enhancing collaboration: Expanded and diversified Chinese participation in international global change scientific meetings, particularly in modeling, training, and data and information, would enhance the Chinese glo-
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China and Global Change: Opportunities for Collaboration bal change research program and increase opportunities to initiate collaboration. Global change is a current priority of the Pacific Science Association, which could be an organizing force for increasing China's participation in international global change research. Collaboration on paleoclimate would provide foreign access to these valuable and often unique data and would facilitate the addition of predictive capacities to existing Chinese strengths in descriptive paleoresearch. Collaboration would facilitate the consideration of relationships with the broader global system that may have driven some of these past phenomena. Establishing policies that promote the availability of data and that limit the cost of data acquisition to reasonable cost recovery will make collaboration more attractive to foreign scientists.
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