tries—and that are at the same time scientifically challenging. Specifically, China, like most countries, is concerned about the possible impact of climate change on economic development and on existing problems such as deforestation, soil erosion, and soil degradation.
Besides emphasizing the regional and local impacts of putative global environmental change, Chinese research also emphasizes studies of historical change and studies of land use problems that are ubiquitous both in China and globally. Studies of phenomena that impact the global environment—such as biogenic and industrial emissions—are apparently of lower priority. Data are not collected or presented systematically and, in some cases, are not made available for proprietary or policy reasons. The Chinese program makes its principal contribution to the international program through analysis of large-scale biophysical phenomena within China and also through analysis of historical changes in China's environment that reflect global and local changes.
Chinese global change research priorities focus on the question of what will be the impact of global change on China. The reverse question should be mentioned: what will be the contribution of China to global change? Although China's focus is practical given its population growth, current and projected industrial base, demands for fossil fuel, and rate of economic development, China's impact on global change is important to the international community. Even though China's basic global change research is expected to remain locally and regionally focused, important opportunities for international collaboration still exist that would increase China's and the international community's understanding of the causes and consequences of global environmental change.
China has been involved in two major international global change programs (Figure 2-1) since their early stages: (1) the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), sponsored by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), which is devoted mainly to biological and chemical aspects of global change and (2) the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), jointly sponsored by ICSU and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is devoted primarily to physical aspects of global change. Current Chinese plans for global change research have been developed for both of these activities (in contrast to the United States, where scientific committees and federal agencies have worked towards a single program). While these two programs do not represent all global change research programs,