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[BEIJING] China has announced a broad set of policies intended to boost its scientific and technological development over the next 15 years.

The 58 policies, released by China's cabinet on Sunday (26 February), include one stating that central and local government investment in science and technology should increase faster than China's economic growth rate.

Duan Yibing, a senior researcher at the Institute of Policy and Management of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, points out that most of the policies can only take effect after relevant legislation is passed.

They include policies to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights are not violated, and to encourage private sector involvement in research and development (R&D).

Insurance companies and investment banks will, for instance, be able to supply venture capital to assist new companies doing research and development.

Businesses will also be given new tax breaks to offset research costs. Previously, only high-tech companies were eligible for tax cuts, but now all research activities will be, says Duan.

Although the plans focus on developing China's high-tech sector, they also include increases in state funding to popularise science, and to improve scientific training in rural areas.

The announcement follows last month's release of China's national policy for medium and long-term scientific development (see China unveils plans for science-based development).

These identified priority areas including energy, life sciences, environment and new materials, and pledged to increase China's investment in research and development to 900 billion yuan (US$112 billion) by 2020.