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Science must take the lead role in economic development, says Chinese premier Wen, in an interview with Bruce Alberts in Science.

The former professional geologist also shares his experience of dealing with the Wenchuan earthquake, in which 80,000 people were rescued from the rubble, and the tainted milk crisis.

Wen's plan for development includes four goals: putting the people first; integrating social, economic, political and cultural development; resolving wealth, regional and urban-rural disparities; and achieving sustainable development.

He says these cannot be achieved without science and technology, or innovation.

Wen cites the example of China's success in the transgenic engineering of cotton plants to resist cotton bollworms.

"I strongly advocate making great efforts to pursue transgenic engineering," he says. "Food shortages around the world have strengthened my belief."

He says China needs to cultivate innovative talent, develop free-thinking at universities, and bring in the best brainpower by opening up to the outside world.

Now in his second five-year term as premier, Wen says the lesson of the milk crisis is that China must meet international food standards.

On global warming, he says the government must play its part by restricting high-energy-consuming and heavily polluting enterprises. He also says scientists have an important role to play in bringing countries together because of their cooperation in the common pursuit of the truth through facts.

"Strengthening their collaboration and association will certainly make it easier to establish common consensus and mutual trust," he says.


Science 322, 362 (2008)