Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) has adhered to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era, thoroughly planned and advanced its comprehensive reform, continuously improved funding management, and provided strong support for the advancement in science and technology.
First, as the basis of fundamental research funding, NSFC has provided steady support for the comprehensive and coordinated development of basic sciences. After years of progress, NSFC has developed a comprehensive funding system that covers all areas of natural sciences, supports researchers of different age groups and at different career stages, so as to ensure coordinated and sustainable growth of all disciplines. From 2012 to 2021, NSFC received a total of about 2.01 million proposals, and funded about 430,000 of them.
Second, as the incubator of talent teams, NSFC has consolidated the foundation of talents to support China’s growth in the capacity of science and technology. Since 2012, about 1.344 million researchers have undertaken or participated in NSFC-funded projects. The long-term and steady support of National Natural Science Fund has consolidated the foundation of basic research talents, and fostered an elite cadre of academic researchers and group leaders. For example, the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars has become an important channel for cultivating high-level science and technology talents in China. Eighty-seven percent of CAS Academicians who are currently under the age of 60 have been funded by the talent program.
Third, as the origin of science and technology innovation, NSFC has been the source of support for the science frontier breakthroughs and served national needs. With the long-term and steady support of National Natural Science Fund, many Chinese researchers have tackled scientific problems in pursuit of breakthroughs at world science frontiers and to address major national needs, through which high-level original achievements keep emerging. Since 2012, all the National Natural Science Awards achievements have been initiated by NSFC. In addition, NSFC also initiated various programs to implement major strategic decisions on carbon peak and carbon neutrality and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and has made sound progress.
Fourth, as an important platform to promote coordinated innovations, NSFC has actively leveraged more resources from the society to increase the investment in basic research. Up to now, 24 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), 10 central state-owned enterprises, and 7 industry sectors have joined NSFC’s Joint Fund for the new era, attracting an external investment of RMB 12.369 billion yuan.
Fifth, as the bridge for scientific collaborations, NSFC plays an indispensable role in facilitating international cooperation. NSFC hosted workshops for policy discussions with international funding agencies in two consecutive years from 2018 to 2019, which enhance its international influence. To date, NSFC has established substantive partnerships with 100 funding agencies or international organizations in 53 countries and regions, and strengthened the funding of International (Regional) Cooperation and Exchange Programs. Since 2020, NSFC has been committed to the planning and organizing of Sustainable Development International Cooperation (SDIC) Program. As of now, 16 international funding agencies or international organizations have joined in the first round of joint solicitation.
Sixth, as the purifier for the scientific research environment, NSFC has steadily enhanced scientific research integrity to create a sound academic ecology. Since 2012, NSFC has seriously investigated and sternly dealt with individuals and host institutions that committed academic misconducts. In 2020, NSFC executed the NSFC Action Plan to Improve Research Integrity from the aspects of education, motivation, regulation, supervision and punishment, and continuously coordinated with the Ministry of Science and Technology and other members of the Joint Meeting on Scientific Research Integrity Construction to collaboratively purify the scientific research ecology.
In the next step, under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era, NSFC will thoroughly carry out the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, especially the 10-year Action Plan on Basic Research and the Three-year Action Plan for Reforming the National Science and Technology Management System, focus on two important tasks, namely, refining scientific problems and promoting the paradigm shifts of scientific research, work hard to advance the systematic reform of NSFC, and further improve the funding system of NSFC, so as to offer firm and continual support for the realization of high-quality development in science and technology.