From News Science
Science has learned that the Chinese State Council yesterday appointed chemist Bai Chunli the next president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Bai has been heir‑apparent since he was named executive vice president of CAS in 2004. He was expected to assume the post in 2008 when CAS President Lu Yongxiang's second term ended. However, for reasons unknown, Bai's appointment was delayed and Lu continued on to a third term. Bai, 57, will succeed 68‑year‑old Lu, who has been president since July 1997.
Founded in 1949, CAS followed the Soviet model in establishing the majority of its research institutes in the 1950s. When China began to reform its economy in the 1980s, some leaders wanted to trim the academy or even get rid of it altogether. The central government reduced appropriations to CAS and forced institutes and researchers to look for funding from industry. Shortly after he took over at CAS, Lu launched what he called the Knowledge Innovation Project (KIP) to reform and save the academy. The goal was to establish an "innovation system of our own," as then Chinese President Jiang Zemin instructed.
Capital investment may be the most noticeable KIP achievement: Many new buildings and big science facilities, such as the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, have been constructed over the past 13 years. CAS's operating budget allocated by the central government has also been increasing steadily; over the same period it has grown more than 10-fold on a staff per‑capita basis.
Bai is expected to carry Lu's legacy forward. CAS has already extended KIP into the next decade under the new banner of project "Innovation 2020." The goal is to "take hold of core indigenous intellectual property rights so as to provide support for the development of an innovative country." In its pilot phase, five forerunner projects have been slated for funding: future advanced nuclear fission energy, space science, stem cell and regenerative medicine research, carbon budget verification and related problems in response to climate change, and a new center for mathematics and interdisciplinary science.