China Pushing the Envelope on Science, and Sometimes Ethics

John Pomfret writes in the Washington Post:

Centuries after it led the world in technological prowess — think gunpowder, irrigation and the printed word — China has barged back into the ranks of the great powers in science. With the brashness of a teenager, in some cases literally, China’s scientists and inventors are driving a resurgence in potentially world-changing research.

Unburdened by social and legal constraints common in the West, China’s trailblazing scientists are also pushing the limits of ethics and principle as they create a new — and to many, worrisome — Wild West in the Far East.

A decade ago, no one considered China a scientific competitor. Its best and brightest agreed and fled China in a massive brain drain to university research labs at Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

But over the past five years, Western-educated scientists and gutsy entrepreneurs have conducted a rearguard action, battling China’s hidebound bureaucracy to establish research institutes and companies. Those have lured home scores of Western-trained Chinese researchers dedicated to transforming the People’s Republic of China into a scientific superpower.

June 28, 2010 6:59 AM
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Categories: Sci-Tech, Society