China has won the world's attention with its booming economic development since the late 1970s. In the new century, it is thought that biotechnology and its related industries will be one of the major impetuses of the social economy. The concept of bioeconomy has been generally accepted worldwide and has increased in importance. The era of bioeconomy presents both challenges and opportunities to the Chinese science communities, policy makers and society as a whole. On the one hand, China enjoys a special position by nature of its favourable conditions for the development of biotechnology. China has a large population and a vast territory, and hence is one of the countries with the richest bio-resources and biodiversity in the world. On the other hand, the present drive for economic development is to the detriment of resources and environment. There are major concerns in food and agriculture, public health and medical care as well as energy supply. To maintain sustainable development and create a harmonious relationship between man and nature, China must take vigorous measures to promote the development of biotechnology.
To our delight, the Chinese government has already made biotechnology a priority topic for the coming decades. Favourable policies, including funding to support and bring back talent from abroad, have been adopted to accelerate the development of life science and biotechnology. Many Chinese young people are devoting themselves to this promising field. Some exciting and important breakthroughs have been achieved in areas such as genomics and protein science.
This special issue consists of 13 reviews written by a group of outstanding life scientists in China, reporting the latest progress achieved by China in areas such as strategic planning for biotechnology (Chen et al. 2007), protein science (Rao 2007), rice genome (Han et al. 2007; Yu et al. 2007), ecosystems (Kang et al. 2007), neuroscience (Poo & Guo 2007), evolution genetics (Zhang & Ge 2007; Zhang et al. 2007), stem cells (Liao et al. 2007), drug innovation (Wang et al. 2007), molecular medicine (Zhou et al. 2007) and disease control (Shen et al. 2007; Zhao 2007). I sincerely hope this issue will give readers a valuable overview of life science and biotechnology in China.
I wish to thank all the authors and reviewers for their hard work, and James Joseph of the Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B editorial office, Ms Zhao-Jun Wen and Mr Yihuang Wang of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology for their help in coordination. Last but not least, I wish to thank Sir Brian Heap. Without his kindly encouragement and friendship, not only personally to myself but also to the whole Chinese science community, this issue could not have been completed.
One contribution of 14 to a Theme Issue ‘Biological science in China’.
- © 2007 The Royal Society