Given China's current and potential impacts on the global environment and the contributions Chinese science can make to global change research, it is all the more important for China to participate fully in international research programs that address global change questions. However, not much detailed information has been available to program planners or foreign researchers interested in collaboration. Consequently, the CSCPRC requested funding from the Division of International Programs at the National Science Foundation to conduct a study that would report systematically and in greater detail about the organization of Chinese global change science and research activities.
The thrust of the report is twofold. First, and primarily, the report is a reference for individuals who wish to develop collaborative projects with Chinese colleagues, particularly for those who have limited experience in conducting cooperative science in China. To meet this goal, the panel worked hard to find out substantive details about research, despite the limits of available documentation. Secondly, by discussing the way Chinese science is organized, the report provides insights into research priorities, institutional infrastructure, human resources, and other factors that constrain or facilitate Chinese responses to global change.
China is a good example of how nations respond to this global research agenda from the point of view of their own national interests. According to Ye Duzheng, chairman of the Chinese National Committee for the International Geosphere—Biosphere Program (CNCIGBP), Chinese research on global change will have a definite national focus. From the Chinese viewpoint, ''global'' change is too large a scale for their needs and current scientific and financial capacities. Specifically, China, like most countries, is very concerned about the possible impact of climate change on economic development and on existing problems such as deforestation, soil erosion, and soil degradation.
Besides emphasizing the regional and local impacts of putative global environmental change, Chinese research also emphasizes studies of historical change and studies of land use problems that are ubiquitous both in China and globally. Studies of phenomena that impact the global environment—such as biogenic and industrial emissions—are apparently of lower priority. Data are not collected or presented