Search

 

Cablegate: Auspicious Jcm: Marking Thirty Years of U.S.-China Science

VZCZCXRO0745
PP RUEHAST RUEHCN RUEHDH RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #2813/01 2760041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030041Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6312
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC 0767
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 BEIJING 002813

STATE FOR EAP/CM-BRAUNOHLER, EAP/PD
STATE FOR OES DAS MIOTKE, OES/EGC, OES/ENV, AND OES/PCI
STATE FOR S/SECC-STERN, S/P-GREEN, EEB, AND ECA
STATE PASS TO CEQ SUTLEY
STATE PASS TO OSTP ROLF
USDOE FOR INTERNATIONAL
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL/MKASMAN/GIANNINI-SPOHN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG KGHG TSPA TPHY TBIO CH

SUBJECT: AUSPICIOUS JCM: MARKING THIRTY YEARS OF U.S.-CHINA SCIENCE
AND TECHNOLOGY COOPERATION

REF: BEIJING 435

(U) SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Senior Chinese government officials from across China's
science and technology (S&T) establishment are eagerly looking
forward to engaging their U.S. government counterparts at the
upcoming 13th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) on Science and
Technology, set to take place in Washington, DC on October 15-16,
2009. This year's JCM is of particular note as it also marks the
30th anniversary of the 1979 U.S.-China Agreement on Cooperation in
Science and Technology, signed by U.S. President Carter and Chinese
leader DENG Xiaoping as one of the first acts of normalization
between the two countries. These bilateral discussions will cover a
broad array of issues that will help determine the quality of life
of the Chinese and American people over the next decades, in areas
like clean energy, climate change, nuclear safety, and biomedical
research. The two countries also will identify synergies in
respective science policies, with the goal of encouraging innovation
and science education. While there exist some irritants in some
aspects of the S&T relationship, this has been one of the most
positive aspects of the overall U.S.-China relationship. The wide
scope of areas covered demonstrates that not only is there great
interest on both sides to continue this path forward, but also that
the gap in capacity, which may have once existed, has diminished
over time. END SUMMARY.

BACKGROUND: 30 YEARS OF S&T COOPERATION
---------------------------------------

2. (U) The JCM comes at a time of considerable pride in China.
China has just concluded a massive nation-wide celebration marking
the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of
China (PRC), during which the role that science and technology has
played in the country's development was highlighted. Chinese
officials at the JCM will note 30 years of bilateral diplomatic
relations and stress the role that science diplomacy now plays in
what Chinese leaders have been calling a positive, cooperative, and
comprehensive relationship with the United States. (NOTE: The 1979
Agreement called for the S&T relationship to be coordinated through
high-level biannual Joint Commission Meetings (JCM), and the JCM now
focuses respective policymakers on key themes in current U.S.-China
S&T cooperation, while also establishing priority areas for future
collaboration. The last JCM was held in Beijing in October 2006. END
NOTE.)

3. (SBU) From its inception in 1979, the S&T Agreement has
facilitated an era of robust government-to-government collaboration
in a wide array of technical areas. While China's S&T system
remains considerably different from the U.S. model, it has drawn
inspiration, ideas, and best practices from the United States
through these interactions, ultimately shaping the evolution of
China's S&T system. More broadly, these exchanges have exerted a
stabilizing influence on the U.S.-China relationship and provided an
alternative avenue for dialogue even through periods of political
tension. Now, 30 years later, a highly-influential segment of
Chinese society--the scientific community--has developed a stake in
maintaining a constructive relationship with their American
counterparts.

4. (SBU) Currently, there are more than 30 active agency-to-agency
Protocols, MOUs, and sub-agreements, and more than 40 active annexes
under the umbrella of the 1979 S&T Agreement, which 16 USG technical
agencies and nearly the same number of Chinese government entities
have signed with each other. Areas under which S&T protocols exist
and in which cooperative activities take place include agriculture,

BEIJING 00002813 002 OF 005


energy, health, environment, earth sciences, marine research, and
nuclear safety. JCM participants work to facilitate the exchange of
scientific results, encourage greater access for researchers,
establish science-based industries, invest in national science
infrastructure, promote science education, strengthen the
application of scientific standards, as well as drive environmental
protection and natural resources management.

CHINA LOOKING TO INVIGORATE THE JCM
-----------------------------------

5. (SBU) No single issue is likely to occupy China's next
generation of leaders more than energy security. China is currently
the world's fastest-growing energy consumer, accounting for 17
percent of global energy consumption in 2007. By 2030 this number
is expected to rise to nearly 21 percent, making access to adequate
energy supplies a high priority for China. Not surprisingly, State
Counselor LIU Yandong stated during her April 2009 visit to
Washington that strengthening joint research in clean and renewable
energy, including nuclear, wind, and solar power, would be her
number one priority for this year's JCM. She also enumerated a
number of additional areas as priorities for discussion, including
climate science, agricultural technology and food security,
biomedical research for the prevention and treatment of acute
diseases, basic research, and the establishment of joint research
and development (R&D) centers and laboratories. (NOTE: Madam Liu is
China's most senior female Chinese government official and a key
figure in charting the course of Chinese S&T policy. In her role as
State Councilor, she oversees the Ministry of Science and Technology
(MOST) and the Ministry of Education (MOE). She has a particularly
positive relationship with Science Minister WAN Gang, who will head
this year's Chinese JCM delegation. END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) At this year's JCM meeting, MOST is likely to press for
yearly senior-level JCMs, rather than biannual meetings, arguing
that S&T, as a driving force for addressing the current financial
crisis and for future development, requires that both sides meet
more frequently than biennially for high-level consultations. MOST
officials recently noted that it has become common for other
high-level bilateral dialogues in the political and economic spheres
to occur once a year. This suggests the Chinese may opt to initiate
a discussion on how the JCM and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue
(S&ED), for example, might relate to one another, particularly since
the S&ED also serves as a discussion platform for a number of
S&T-related issues like clean energy, climate change, environmental
protection, and health.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Both MOST and the Chinese Academy of Sciences
(CAS) continue to focus on commercialization of technology and
appear unwilling to take the necessary steps to strengthen basic
research. In a major policy speech in November 2008, CAS President
LU Yongxian outlined nine key changes to the way CAS is to manage
R&D, noting that more focus must be placed on transitioning basic
research into activities that meet the country's "strategic
priorities." Lu also said that technology transfer should receive
the same emphasis as innovation and basic research, implying that
research proposals that include a high degree of technology transfer
would be viewed more favorably during this transition. END
COMMENT.

AS S&T GAP NARROWS, NEW PROSPECTS FOR COOPERATION
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (SBU) The Chinese Government has been highly successful in
drawing back foreign-trained (mostly U.S.) Chinese scientists and
engineers through enticement programs (i.e., U.S.-equivalent
salaries, large signing bonuses, appointments as laboratory
directors, professorships, etc) designed to target scientists and
researchers with specialties aligned with China's national strategic

BEIJING 00002813 003 OF 005


development plans. Today, 81 percent of CAS academicians and 54
percent Chinese Academy of Engineering (CES) academicians are
Western-trained, while 72 percent of National Key Project Directors
are scientists returned from abroad, according to research conducted
by China S&T scholar Peter Suttmeier. Despite the increasing flow
of researchers returning to China, the United States continues to
derive benefit from the vast number of Chinese-born scientists who
have chosen to settle there. With over 62,500 Chinese-born
S&T-related PhDs now employed in the United States (74% of whom are
at peak productivity ages between 30 and 49) benefits derived from
researchers in the two countries maintaining ties with each other
are greater than ever.

9. (SBU) Despite the obvious asymmetry between U.S. and Chinese
scientific capabilities that existed in the past, and a sense by
some that collaboration under the JCM process has been a one-way
street only benefiting China, these activities have nonetheless been
considered positive overall, and the JCM with China continues to
enjoy broad support by numerous USG agencies. The wide gap in S&T
capabilities has narrowed, driven largely by Beijing pouring vast
resources into modernizing China's S&T infrastructure in recent
years. China's rapidly rising S&T capacity is enabling new avenues
of cooperation that can be mutually beneficial to both the United
States and China. For example, China's increasingly sophisticated
space program is yielding valuable new earth observation data sought
after by government and private researchers around the world,
including in the United States. China's S&T proficiency in a number
of other important areas like nuclear reactors, solar cells, and
carbon capture and sequestration, are on the verge of reaching
levels on par with Western developed countries.

ONGOING CHALLENGES
-----------------

10. (SBU) Despite rapidly growing levels of cooperation, many of
the same problems that have plagued the S&T bilateral relationship
persist and continue to be irritants in the relationship. Key
challenges for U.S. technical agencies collaborating with Chinese
counterparts include a) difficulties with obtaining basic scientific
data from Chinese partners (mistrust by Chinese national security
entities), b) Chinese government S&T organizations' reluctance to
cooperate with each other (stovepiping), c) a system that fails in
fostering scientific integrity (academic fraud), d) unauthorized
technology transfer and poor enforcement of intellectual property
rights (IPR), and e) difficulties in ensuring that no direct benefit
to the Chinese military has resulted from civilian S&T cooperation
(low transparency in some Chinese civilian S&T organizations).
Moreover, while Chinese S&T endeavors now have the potential to
advance both U.S. and Chinese research on issues of global
importance, many Chinese leaders still appear unready to acknowledge
that this transformation has occurred, and they instead continue to
claim that China deserves special treatment, as a developing country
with S&T capacity that lags far behind that in industrialized
countries.

11. (SBU) Most notably, USG agencies continue to face challenges in
obtaining basic scientific data from Chinese agencies. Chinese
agencies frequently cite Chinese laws that prohibit them from
sharing such data, with little authority or will to find common
ground, which inevitably causes friction in the agency-to-agency
relationship. For example, both the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) have long sought real-time (or near real-time)
Chinese oceanographic data to support scientific and commercial
operations, i.e., in forecasting extreme weather events on the rise
due to climate variation. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has
expressed that S&T collaboration in earthquake studies, water
resources, and mineral information has been plagued for 15 years by
a lack of "true and timely data exchange" among U.S. and Chinese

BEIJING 00002813 004 OF 005


counterparts attempting to collaborate under the S&T protocols. The
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is seeking access to
Chinese high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor data for use in
safety analysis programs that would benefit both countries, yet
China's nuclear regulator continues to stall, despite oral
commitments to provide the data.

12. (SBU) On a more positive note, there has been significant
progress on one of the major impediments to closer collaboration.
Visa processing times for Chinese S&T-related personnel traveling to
the United States have dramatically shortened since July, and visas
are now typically issued in three weeks. Until these changes took
effect, extremely long visa processing times (on the order of 16
weeks earlier this year) frequently undermined USG-funded efforts to
bring Chinese officials to the United States, for programs aimed at
advancing U.S. science and technology (and often commercial)
interests in China. Several USG-sponsored programs and meetings
were delayed or cancelled due to visa processing backlogs, resulting
in notable damage to the S&T bilateral relationship (REFTEL).

13. (SBU) Another important new development in the bilateral S&T
relationship was the announcement in July 2009 by Energy Secretary
Chu and MOST Minister Wan of joint clean energy research centers
that will foster close collaboration on developing new and
innovative energy technologies.

30 YEARS OF SUCCESS STORIES
--------------------------

14. (SBU) While challenges have persisted, a relationship on the
scale and breadth of that which the 1979 S&T Protocol governs also
has yielded countless successes. A selection of accomplishments
achieved through U.S. - China collaboration are listed here.

--The presence of a China CDC official at U.S. CDC in Atlanta and
dozens of U.S. CDC staff resident in China ensured that accurate
information about the influenza A/H1N1 outbreak is shared quickly
and effectively. (2009)

-- Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. EPA, the Chinese Academy of
Sciences worked with U.S. and Chinese universities to model regional
and local contributors to air quality, providing information to
Beijing city officials in plans to improve conditions for athletes
and spectators at the 2008 Summer Olympics. (2008)

-- USGS monitored movements of waterfowl in China marked with
satellite-transmitters to understand the role of waterfowl movements
in the spread of the avian influenza. (2007)


--U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) helped establish
pilot projects for emissions trading of sulfur dioxide in multiple
locations, to reduce acid rain in China and elsewhere. (mid-2000s)

--U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $14.8 million
over five years to the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, for expansion of China's research activities in HIV/AIDS
prevention, treatment and vaccine development. (2002-2007)

--The U.S. Forest Service cooperated with Chinese partners in
several locations to survey natural enemies of kudzu (an invasive
weed) to improve biological control of kudzu in the United States.
(1999-2001)

-- Cooperation under the 1998 Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technologies
(PUNT) agreement has improved safety and emergency management
capabilities within China's nuclear sector, while providing a more
transparent view of an industry that until recently was closed to
outsiders. The PUNT agreement also laid the foundation for

BEIJING 00002813 005 OF 005


commercial and economic successes currently enjoyed by U.S. nuclear
firms operating in China. (1998-present)

--NOAA established a joint working group with the State Oceanic
Administration (SOA) to study climate variability. (1997-present)

--U.S. CDC and the Beijing Medical University collaborated to study
child health issues, such as combating birth defects, disabilities,
and health hazards due to environmental factors. (1991-present)

--USGS and China Earthquake Administration established a China
Digital Seismology Network in 1983 (operational in 1987) to
supplement seismic monitoring in China. (1983-present)

--NOAA studied marine sedimentation dynamics in the outflow of the
Yangzi River, key for adapting commercial shipping access and
flooding in the Delta. (early 1980s)

15. (SBU) COMMENT: U.S.-China S&T cooperation appears poised to
reach even greater heights over the next several years, as research
areas of global significance like clean energy, electric vehicles,
climate change, health, environmental protection, and disaster
mitigation, continue to attract high levels of attention by U.S. and
Chinese leaders. Moreover, as the many tens of thousands of
U.S.-educated science professionals return home to China, we can
expect rapid growth in researcher-to-researcher and
institute-to-institute cooperation, especially as returnees seek to
leverage relationships formed by studying and working on both sides
of the Pacific. However, the most important challenge for the
bilateral S&T relationship will be persuading China to move beyond
its longstanding position that, as a "developing country," it should
always be on the receiving end of S&T cooperation with the United
States and recognize that establishing a more mature, peer-to-peer
relationship will produce more gains for both sides. Although as
noted above, China's S&T establishment suffers from a number of
significant problems, it is now blessed with world-class scientists,
well-equipped laboratories and ample funding. China, therefore, as
an emerging world power and self-proclaimed responsible stakeholder,
has new opportunities to demonstrate that it can be a true partner
with the United States and other world technology leaders. END
COMMENT.

HUNTSMAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>