The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has published its first constitution since it was set up as China's premier scientific research centre 50 years ago.
The document was released on Sunday (19 March), and followed by a 15-year research plan that CAS announced yesterday (20 March).
Bai Chunli, the academy's executive vice-president, told reporters that the constitution would help the academy to manage its resources and ensure its researchers work to high scientific and ethical standards.
Among the constitution's 51 articles is a statement of the academy's central aim: to meet China's strategic demands through both fundamental and applied research.
It states that CAS members have two main roles — leading scientific research and training younger scientists.
The constitution also states, for the first time, that the directors of CAS's 130 institutes and research centres can only hold their positions for two four-year terms.
CAS president Lu Yongxiang said that one of the constitution's main features is that it creates a framework for promoting academic ethics, by bringing together existing CAS and government rules.
The academy's newly announced Middle and Long-term Development Plan (2006-2020) outlines its research priorities for the next 15 years.
These are drug and biofuel development, nanotechnology and new materials, genomics and proteomics, renewable energy and technologies for capturing carbon dioxide emissions, sustainable agriculture, and the next generation of the Internet and computing.
"By implementing the plans, CAS will become one of the world's top five research bodies in terms of innovative research output by 2010, and one of the top three by 2020," says Lu.
To achieve this, the academy's research spending will need to increase by 70 per cent over the next five-year period, compared with the previous five years.
Annual investment in CAS research projects will then grow by about 12 per cent between 2011 and 2020.
Shi Erwei, vice-president of CAS responsible for the plan, declined to reveal the current level of investment.