IV. The Development of Oceanographic Science, Technology and Education

In recent years China has made further efforts to promote the investigation and exploration of marine resources and the marine environment, search actively for new exploitable resources, study new techniques and methods of marine resources exploitation and protection, train technical personnel in marine development and protection, and spread oceanographic knowledge among the general public in order to rouse the whole nation to protect the marine environment.

On the basis of a multidisciplinary oceanographic research setup, which consists of 109 research institutes and 13,000-some research personnel, China has many achievements to its credit in oceanographic survey and research, studies in basic oceanographic science, development and protection of ocean resources, marine monitoring technologies and manufacturing of oceanographic technical equipment.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 a large amount of work has been done in the field of oceanographic surveys and research, which started in offshore areas with surface observation of the sea and later expanded to deep-sea regions by means of aerospace remote sensing and underwater detection, as well as surface observation. As early as in the period 1958-1960 a national comprehensive survey of China's offshore waters was made; later, from 1980 to 1986, a comprehensive survey of coastal zones and shoals resources was conducted nationwide, along with the launching of a number of pilot projects on the comprehensive development and utilization of coastal zones; and from 1988 to 1995 a general investigation of the country's island resources and an experiment on their comprehensive development were carried out.

China signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and began to make surveys of the Antarctic and the surrounding sea areas in 1984. By 1997 the country had completed 14 programs of scientific investigation in this region, using the Great Wall and Zhongshan survey stations as bases. Thus, China has made positive contributions to the world's peaceful exploitation of the Antarctic. In 1996 China joined the International Scientific Committee on North Pole Research, and has taken an active part in international cooperation projects in the Arctic, such as "The Role of the Polar Region in Global Change."

With more attention paid to the study of the inshore shelf oceanography, China has established a multidisciplinary oceanographic research system with regional characteristics. Under the direction of the oceanographic development strategy and the support programs and plans for the development of oceanography drawn up by relevant state departments, marked progress has been made in recent years in physical oceanography, biological oceanography, marine geology and marine chemistry. These achievements have provided scientific directions and references for the promotion of offshore fishing and oil and gas exploitation, protection of the marine environment, and reduction and prevention of marine disasters.

China makes vigorous efforts for the development of oceanographic technologies, building up an oceanographic technology system focusing mainly on the marine environment, exploration and exploitation of marine resources, and general marine engineering, and covering more than 20 technological fields. The country has now turned its attention to implementing a marine high-tech program, a program for tackling key problems in marine science and technology and one for marine development by reliance on science and technology. In its marine high-tech research China gives priority to technologies covering marine monitoring, marine exploration and resources exploitation, deep-sea exploration and marine biology. The program for tackling key problems in marine science and technology centers on fields directly related to modern marine development, such as sustainable exploitation of the resources and environment of coastal zones, desalinization of seawater, exploitation of marine energy and comprehensive utilization of seawater resources. In 1996 government departments concerned jointly formulated the National Plan for Implementing the "Program for Marine Development by Reliance on Science and Technology" in the Ninth Five-Year Period (1996-2000) and to the Year 2010, which focuses on research, development and dissemination of the technologies of marine reproduction and mariculture, fine processing of marine biological resources, exploration and extraction of marine pharmaceuticals and exploitation of chemical resources in seawater. Through implementation of this plan, China hopes to foster marine technology enterprises, improve the productivity of the marine industries, and make the technological progress factor rise from 30 percent to 50 percent in the output increase of the marine industries.

China has basically evolved an oceanographic education system embracing professional education, vocational education and popular knowledge education. Oceanography as an area of study is taught in 37 institutions of higher learning and 29 secondary specialized schools in China, training large numbers of technical and managerial personnel. The vocational schools, offering courses in more than 20 oceanographic fields, have trained more than 8,000 people in the past three years. The mass media is frequently used in China to inform young people about oceanographic topics and educate the people living in coastal regions in the proper way to exploit marine resources and protect the marine environment.

In addition, a service system providing oceanographic data and information headed by the National Oceanographic Information Center has been established in China in the wake of the progress in the past dozens of years in this field; it provides comprehensive information services for ocean development, oceanographic research and marine environmental protection. Besides, in the early 1990s China built up a basic network jointly run by government departments concerned, enterprises, research institutes and coastal zones to promote oceanographic information exchanges.

To give a further boost to oceanographic technology, offshore development and marine environment protection, the Chinese government has worked out the Medium- and Long-Term Program for the Development of Oceanographic Science and Technology, the Oceanographic Technology Policy (Blue Paper) and a number of concrete development plans. The main tasks for oceanographic technology development in the future are: To strengthen research into basic oceanographic science; tackle the key technologies of marine resources exploitation and environmental protection; promote the application of oceanographic technologies to marine industries; improve marine resources development and service support for marine disaster prevention and reduction; improve marine environmental protection; and narrow the gap between China and the developed countries in oceanographic technology.