Rapid development (1980--99)
Under the planned economy that had been the controlling system for a long period of time, science and technology had contributed greatly to national construction, but under that system, they were separated from the economy. In 1981, the former SPC put forward to the CPC Central Committee the Outlines of Report on the Principles Regarding Science and Technology Development in China, saying that new policies for developing science and technology in the new historic period should stress their service to the modernization construction and that progress of science and technology should go hand in hand with the economic and social development. China adopted a series of major measures to coordinate the development of science and technology with the economy, and marked results were made in economic, scientific and technological fields. The State Council set up the leading group of science & technology to macro-control the work in the country; a group of excellent scientific-minded officials were promoted to leading posts at various levels in provinces and units; and the trial reform of scientific and technological systems was conducted, with stress laid on the management of scientific research institutes and academic titles.
To guarantee the smooth reform of the scientific and technological system, the state promulgated a series of policies and regulations, opened up the technological market, strengthened the protection of intellectual property rights, improved the scientific award system, established the experimental facility supporting system, and encouraged the development of non-governmental science and technology institutes. Progress was made in developing and improving the scientific and technological system, making it more compatible with economic construction.
The state strategy for science and technology in 1986 covered three levels: serve national economic construction and social development, develop new and high technology and related industry, and strengthen basic research. The first level was actually the main task, with the other two forming the wings. To accomplish the task well, the state established six big programs, including the Spark, the ``863,'' the Torch, the Scaling, Major Scientific Research and Major Achievements Promotion programs. A new pattern of scientific and technological work in the new period was formed. The 863 Program was approved by Deng Xiaoping in person in March 1986 for the development of new and hi-tech researches. Breakthroughs were made in key technologies with the implementation of the 863 Program. Through the efforts and hard work of scientists and technicians, related technologies were also promoted, greatly enhancing China's hi-tech level and international position. The 53 state new and hi-tech industrial development zones in the country, established in accordance with Deng's idea of ``developing high technology to realize industrialization,'' have become the bases in China to commercialize, industrialize and globalize new and hi-tech achievements.
In May 1995, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council promulgated the Decision on Speeding up Science and Technology Progress, which initiated the strategy of developing the country through science and education to quicken scientific and technological progress. At the same time, the national conference on science and technology was held, which stressed the important position of science and technology in economic and social development, strengthening national scientific forces and the ability to transfer scientific achievements to products, and enhancing the scientific and cultural quality of all ethnic groups. The conference put emphasis on making economic construction rely on scientific progress and the improvement of laborers' quality to speed up the transformation of China into a powerful and prosperous country.
The 15th CPC National Congress again put forward the strategy of developing the country through science and education, and sustainable development, and made scientific progress a priority for economic and social development.
The achievements made by science and technology in this period were the fruits of the reform and opening policy over the past 20 years.