Science strengths draw­ing Belt, Road stu­dents

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By CHENG YINGQI chengy­ingqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Fac­tors that have at­tracted Chi­nese science stu­dents to US uni­ver­si­ties — schol­ar­ships, high-tech lab­o­ra­to­ries, in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences and aca­demic ex­changes — are now draw­ing for­eign stu­dents to China, es­pe­cially from coun­tries along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive routes.

Vic­tor Dike of Nige­ria is three years into a four-year PhD pro­gram at the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences’ In­sti­tute of At­mo­spheric Physics. He signed up for the pro­gram af­ter a short stint as a vis­it­ing scholar in 2013.

“As a cli­mate sci­en­tist, I have op­por­tu­ni­ties to travel around the world,” he said. “But if I could ad­vise some­body who is go­ing to study abroad, I would say China, be­cause the re­search en­vi­ron­ment here is re­ally good.”

Imoulan Ab­dessamad of Morocco, a post-doc­toral stu­dent who spe­cial­izes in fun­gus re­search, said he was swayed by the na­tion’s progress in DNA se­quenc­ing.

“If you want to find new fungi species, you need to sequence DNA. Inmy coun­try, I can’t do it be­cause it’s too ex­pen­sive and takes too long,” he said. “Here in Bei­jing, if I send the sam­ple away to­day, I can get the re­sult to­mor­row, so I can do any ex­per­i­ment I want.”

Through his work at the CAS In­sti­tute of Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy, Ab­dessamad has iden­ti­fied two new species from sam­ples taken from the Qing­haiTi­bet Plateau and has pub­lished his dis­cov­er­ies in sci­en­tific jour­nals.

Yao Yi­jian, a PhD su­per­vi­sor at the In­sti­tute of Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy, said, “For most stu­dents from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, we can pro­vide the re­search fa­cil­i­ties, ideas, en­vi­ron­ment and plat­form they have no ac­cess to (at home).

“When they re­turn to their own coun­tries, I be­lieve they still have emo­tional con­nec­tions to China and to the in­sti­tute,” he added.

Ade­wole Adetoro Ajala, a Nige­rian third-year PhD stu­dent at the Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Green Tech­nol­ogy, a joint project in Bei­jing be­tween the CAS and The World Academy of Sciences, said that “the Chi­nese are not only in­ter­ested in train­ing you, but also care about build­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion”.

China is quickly build­ing links with na­tions along the pro­posed Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road, which form a ma­jor ini­tia­tive aimed at boosting con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Asia, Africa and Eu­rope.

In 2013, the CAS launched the Pres­i­dent’s In­ter­na­tional Fel­low­ship Ini­tia­tive, a project that of­fers full schol­ar­ships to 200 over­seas PhD can­di­dates a year, which has led to stu­dents from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries gain­ing ur­gently needed knowl­edge and skills.

The CAS has es­tab­lished five bases for over­seas stu­dents from Belt and Road coun­tries at af­fil­i­ated re­search in­sti­tutes, cov­er­ing a wide range of re­search — in­clud­ing cli­mate change, clean en­ergy, biotech­nol­ogy and ap­pli­ca­tions for space tech­nol­ogy in dis­as­ter re­lief and wa­ter safety.

“Our re­search fields meet the needs of many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, so our rep­u­ta­tion is rapidly grow­ing,” said Wei Yuan­song, deputy direc­tor of the CAS-TWAS Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­ment.

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