FLORENCE, S.C. — The United Kingdom and China have agreed to a research partnership deal that will help fight global issues like climate change, long-term renewable energy supplies and human diseases. Collectively, the joint research programs are worth over 50 million pounds (around $85 million.)
David Willetts, Minister of States for Universities and Science, and Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK, were two of the primary officials involved in the agreement of the research deal, which is part of a five-year plan for the UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund. The new projects, finalized at a UK-China summit in London, include:
- A scientific research program led in the UK by the Met Office. Worth 23 million pounds (roughly $39.06 million,) this program will build services to protect against extreme weather and prepare for climate change in Asia. Both the UK and China have released a joint statement that emphasizes the “clear imperative to work together toward a global framework for ambitious climate change action.”
- Joint research partnerships led in the UK by Research Councils UK. Approximately 16 million pounds (roughly $27.18 million) will contribute to scientific advancements in marine energy, regenerative medicine and stem cells, atmospheric pollution and human health. Soil ecosystem sustainment will also be addressed; earlier this year, a comprehensive Chinese study revealed that 16 percent of the nation’s soil is polluted.
- 14 million pounds (roughly $23.78 million) worth of Newton Fellowships to provide collaborative opportunities for researchers in both China and the United Kingdom.
The partnership is significant for furthering global development and promoting cooperation between research institutions. Willetts believes that the UK and China will be able to “produce higher quality research and create opportunities to develop and commercialize new innovative technologies” by working together. Professor Kevin Schurer, pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at the University of Leicester, is supportive of the joint research deal as well, stating that the initiative is “very timely and welcome.”
Susan Milner, director of education for the British Council in China, has recognized additional benefits of the research programs. “Researcher collaboration and Ph.D. partnerships, which are central to the UK-China relationship in education, have undergone a step change through the Newton Fund. China is a major global investor in R&D [research and development], and the UK will benefit enormously from research and innovation collaboration on issues of global significance.”
China is currently the third-largest producer of research in the world. Nevertheless, there are some concerns about the quality of research produced in China, which has countered the issue by addressing the rising cases of academic fraud. Schurer notes that the new partnership will likely ensure both high-quality research and adhere to open access standards.
In addition to arranging the research deal, officials have signed a civil nuclear statement that allows Chinese companies to invest in Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear reactor plant to be built in the UK for a generation. This agreement will make it possible for Chinese companies to own and operate their own nuclear power stations in the future.