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[BEIJING] The Chinese government is seeking public input through the Internet into a long-term plan intended to reinvigorate the country's science and technology by 2020.

Any individual — including foreigners interested in the development of Chinese science — can submit suggestions through the Chinese version of the Ministry of Science and Technology's website, This is the first time that the Chinese government has launched a public consultation of this type on what its science priorities should be.

"We are trying to present an open and interactive process of decision making," says Lu Jing, a MOST official involved in drawing up the plan. "The soul of science and technology relies heavily on opening up, and only co-operation can produce outstanding achievements."

At the end of last year, MOST mapped out a three-step proposal for the country's science and technology development, which has been circulated among top decision-makers.

An official close to science and technology decision makers says that under this plan, China would create a core group of world-class universities and private research and development organisations by 2010.

Now, hundreds of scientists, experts and officials will also be involved in developing the final plan, which is scheduled to be finished this year.

In addition, other ministries and research organisations will be involved. For example, the Ministry of Education, the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the Chinese Scientific Association are all expected to submit their opinions.

Under the MOST plan, by 2020, China should become a leading player in science and technology, and by 2050, the country should be rated as one of the world's "science and technology powers".

"The plan could have big impact on the development of the final plan," says the official.

This is the eighth time that the country has drawn up a medium- and long-term science and technology plan since the People's Republic of China was created in 1949. All public comments must be submitted by the end of the year.

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