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[BEIJING] China has launched a new US$2.5 billion programme to fast-track research and development into technologies considered key to China's economic and social development.

It will support 147 technologies including wind power stations, technologies to make more efficient use of coal, and technology to divert water from the south to the north of the country.

The five-year Key Technology Research and Development Programme was launched last week (9 February) by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance.

Xu Guanhua, Minister of Science and Technology, said the programme would focus on four areas: efficient energy and resource utilisation; agricultural technologies; technologies for the information technology sector and for manufacturing equipment; and population, health and public security.

The state government will invest US$925 million in the programme, with other investment coming from local government, business and research institutes.

The programme will involve businesses and private-public research teams.

Zhu Xiaomin, a senior researcher at the Institute of Science Policy and Management of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the programme could help China focus its limited scientific resources to solve bottlenecks blocking development.

He told SciDev.Net that for the programme to achieve its goals, the government needs to create more policies and measures to ensure that research results are shared throughout each sector.