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China's scientific and technological highlights of 2019

(People's Daily Online)    10:46, December 24, 2019

A series of scientific and technological achievements were made in China this year, including the successful development of clonal seeds from hybrid rice, the construction of Beijing Daxing International Airport and the unveiling of a high-speed maglev train prototype.

1. Chinese scientists succeed in developing clonal seeds from hybrid rice

(Xinhua file photo)

The team, led by Wang Kejian, from the China National Rice Research Institute and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, conducted simultaneous genome engineering of meiosis and fertilization genes to develop the clonal seeds. 

"The success has proved the feasibility of apomixis for hybrid rice, which was, until this point, theoretical. I hope that with further research, the seeds will be put into production soon," said Yuan Longping, the "father of hybrid rice".

2. CREG slurry TBM challenges cross-sea project

A 12.26m diameter slurry tunnel boring machine (TBM) was designed to excavate a 2.9km long double-track metro rail tunnel under the Suoyu Bay in the city of Dalian in northeast China. The TBM is designed and supplied by CREG of China to excavate successfully through the karst of the Yellow Sea seabed.

The TBM includes a number of leading technologies, including a double-crusher system and a customized main drive capable of telescopic cutter head movement and rotation in both directions to allow the changing of cutting tools under atmospheric pressure.

3. Beijing Daxing International Airport breaks several world records


Billed as one of the "seven wonders of the new world" by the British media in 2016, Beijing Daxing International Airport covers a total construction area of about 1.4 million square meters.

The entire roof of the terminal building consists of a central skylight, six strip skylights and eight bubble-shaped windows. It needed to be spliced with 12,800 pieces of glass in different shapes and materials, connected by 12,300 spherical nodes and more than 60,000 rods, whose construction difficulty was billed as one of the highest in the world. The roof looks like it is made up of clouds, but weighs more than 30,000 tons, which is almost equivalent to the weight of the steel structure of the Beijing National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest."

4. China launches first rocket into space from sea platform


A Long March 11 solid-propellant carrier rocket blasted off at 12:06 pm on June 5 from a mobile launch platform — a modified submersible craft — in the Yellow Sea off the eastern province of Shandong and then sent seven satellites into orbit about 600 kilometers above the Earth.

The mission — the first seaborne space launch in the world in five years — showcased China's mastery of the technologies and capabilities required for such operations and indicates the country has found an alternative to its ground-based launch centers.

5. China debuts high-speed maglev train prototype

A prototype magnetic levitation train with a top speed of 600 km/h is unveiled in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on May 23, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

China debuts a prototype magnetic-levitation train with a designed maximum speed of 600 kilometers per hour in Qingdao on May 23, filling the gap in speed between aviation and high-speed rail, according to its manufacturer.

Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team and deputy chief engineer of CRRC Qingdao Sifang, said the testing prototype could check and optimize the key technologies and core system components of the high-speed maglev system and lay a technological basis for the forthcoming engineering prototype.

6. Chinese company installs "heart" of international fusion power project

China Nuclear Power Engineering (CNPE)-led consortium won the bid for an installation project in a Tokamak Assembly Contract 1 (TAC1) on July 16.

The installation contract covers the most crucial parts of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Tokamak, whose importance is equivalent to that of the reactor in the nuclear power plant, or the heart in a human body.

The ITER is so far the world's second-largest science and engineering project in terms of construction scale, behind the International Space Station.

7. China's first private commercial rocket makes it into orbit

iSpace, a Beijing-based private rocket company and China's answer to SpaceX, said it successfully launched its prototype "SQX-1 Y1" solid rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, at around 1:10 pm Beijing Time, July 25.

The event marked the first successful rocket launch into orbit by a private Chinese company. The "SQX-1 Y1" is also the most powerful rocket ever developed by a private Chinese company.

8. Tianhe-2 supercomputer works out the criterion for quantum supremacy


A world's first criterion for quantum supremacy was issued on Nov.4 in research jointly led by Prof. Wu Junjie at the National University of Defense Technology.

During the research process, a boson sampling task was performed on the Tianhe-2 supercomputer, which topped the world supercomputer ranking between 2013 and 2016, and still represents the first tier level of computing power. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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