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2 China's Long History of Biotechnology Traditional fonns of biotechnology have existed in China since its earliest history. According to legend, Shen Nong, a mythical king, introduced China to grain cultivation and cop rotation, and invented a transparent stomach covering in order to observe the effects of herbal medicines on He digestive tract. Dunng the late Neolithic period, the Chinese were already adept at alcohol fermentation, as evidenced by the discovery of wine cups and containers from Be Longshan culture and of winery ruins in Henan Province. Records Mom Be eleventh century B.C. show that the importance of temperature and water quality to grain fermentation was undershot By the end of the Zhou Dynasty in 221 B.C., the Chinese wem producing bean curd, soy sauce, and vinegar by methods still used today. The process of flax maceration by anaerobic bacteria is alluded to in a verse from the Book of Songs, C~rm's earliest collection of poesy (200 B.C.), while He ratanon of In crops is described in wndngs Tom ~D. 500. As early as the sixth century, He Chinese understood Cat rabies could be spread by mad dogs. During He Sui Dynasty (581~18), a vaccine against smallpox was developed, and by He Ming Dynast (1368-16443, it was widely available to the masses. Despite this early inventiveness, China's science and technology, including biotechnology and medicine, Wiled to go through the explosive changes Hat altered Western science in He seventeens to nineteens centuries. As noted by Joseph Needham in his epic Science and Civilization in China (Cambndge: Cambridge UIiiversi~ Press, 1961), China never underwent a scientific revolution; Are are no Chinese equivalents of Locke, Newton, or Darwin. Consequently, He fundamental concept of testing hypotheses by expenmentabon was skill 3
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4 BIOTECHNOLOGY ~ CHINA unmown in China when Me door to the West was reluctantly opened to Faders and missionaries during We sL~cteen~ and seventeens centuries. Cldna's defeat by We gunboats of European imperialism in We Opimn War (1~1842) ushered in He "half feudal, half colonial" period of We late nineteens and early twenties centuries, when China few win Western technology. One legacy of He period was He es~bli~ent of European-style alcohol- and yeast- based industries, including He famous German brewery at Q~ngdeo. Many students, including Sun Yatsen, went to Japan, Europe, and He United S=es for hailing. However, excepifor the brief Hundred Days Reform of lX9S, efforts to modernize China's science and education systems were suppressed by the government. ~ 1911, the fall of He last emperor end establishment of He Republic marked a turning point in China's science policy. Under the influence of Sun Yatsen, a physician and Ann believer in science, learned societies were formed, scientific journals began publication, science deponents were established at several universities, and students were once again sent abroad. An important development was He founding of the Central Academy of Sciences and the Beijing Academy of Sciences, which were later combined to form CAS. China's efforts to build a sciendfm establishment were stymied, however, by political unrest, and were completely halted by the war with Japan (1937-1945) and by the subsequent civil war between the Nationalists and Communists. After the Communist Par~'s victory in 1949, China began restructuring its scientific research and educational institutions. Following He example of the Soviet Union, basic research was assigned to CAS, applied research to various state miliis~ies such as agriculture and public heals, and education to the universities. An unfortunate consequence of this dependence on the Soviet model was He abandonment of classical genetics in favor of the more socialist, but scien~cally incorrect, theories of Lysenkomn. The government also made a major effort to attract scientists who had left the counDy during He war, particularly nuclear physicists and doctors, by promising Rem the opportunity to help build a new Chinese society. These promises were soon broken as China embarked on a series of vicious antirigh~st campaigns in which scientists, as members of the intellectual class, were castigated as "evil cow snakes" and `'foreign devil lovers." The situation was exacerbate by the split wig He Soviet Union, China's main provider of technological and scientific Paining in He 1950s. This anti-intellecmalism culminated in the Cultural Revolution (1966 1976), during which most scientists were sent to Be countryside or factories for reeducation, and most research institutes were either closed or converted to production ficilides. A rare exception was the Shanghai Astute of Biochemistry, which carried out work on the synthesis of insulin and transfer nbonucleic acid (tRNA) during this period. A direct result of Be complete collapse of the
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CHrNA'S LONG HISI ORY OF BIOTECHNOLOGY s education system during Me Cultural Revolution is a major generational gap in Gained scientists. Following Moo Zedong's dead in 1976, Me Chinese leadership was embroiled in internal power smuggles and debate about Me coun~y's direction, which cubmina~ in 1978 in Me ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping and Me declamtion of the Four Modernizations as China's state policy. In that year, biotechnology was first mentioned as a focal point of Be country science and technology development program. Dunng Be Sixth 5-Year Plan (1981-19XS), funds were allocated to support biotechnology research in the fields of agriculture, food processing, and pharmaceutical production; and in 1983, the China National Center for Biotechnology Development (CNCBD3 was established to coordinate these activities. Dunng Me Seventh S-Year Plan (1986-1990), Be level and scope of biotechnology funding have been gready increased. In March 1986, Be State Council Leading Grow on Science and Technology published a pivotal document, often referred to as the "S 6 3 Plan," describing China's high technology development program and making biotechnology its top pnori~e That same year, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) was founded to support basic research. In 1988, the Sme Science and Technology Commission (SSTC) published its second white paper on science and technology, which reinforced biotechnology as China's number one priority for high technology development Obese evens set Be stage for Be current mechanics for determining biotechnology research priorines, administration, and funding.