As a comprehensive and large national scientific institution, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) comprises three major parts -- a comprehensive research and development network, a traditional merit-based academic society like US NAS and a system of higher education. The merit-based part of CAS is represented by the Academic Divisions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASAD). Founded in June, 1955, six years after the founding of CAS, CASAD has served as an advanced national think-tank to the Chinese Government on major science and technology issues. The Government attaches much importance to this scientific community. The fact that the biannual General Assembly of CAS Members usually convened in the first week of June in an even-numbered Gregorian calendar year is always attended by top Chinese leaders is an indication.
Today this learned body consists of six divisions, respectively in mathematics and physics, chemistry, life and medical sciences, earth sciences, information technical sciences and technological sciences, which help organize and carry out strategic studies and advice on different topics. It now has about 800 academicians called CAS Members and 90 Foreign Members. CAS Members who enjoy prestigious honor in Chinese science are elected from various research institutes and universities including line-industry supported ones following strict and highly competitive process. Foreign Members are elected from all parts of the world, who have made important contributions to the cause of science and technology in China and who enjoy high academic standing internationally. The General Assembly of CAS Members is the highest organizational form of CASAD. When the Assembly is not in session, the standing leadership organ is the Presidium of CASAD, made up of CAS members. An executive committee is set up under the Presidium to implement the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Presidium and supervise the work of the Academic Divisions. Four ad hoc committees including the Consultation & Evaluation Committee, the Enforcement of Scientific Ethic Committee, the Academic Works & Publications Committee and the Science Popularization & Education Committee are set up under the Presidium to be responsible for the tasks in the Academic Divisions.
The strategic advice and proposals that CASAD has provided over the past years have played an important role in the construction of the national innovation system, the initiation and launch of various major scientific policy and programs and extension of science to the general public. Soon after its founding, it was given the job to lead the drafting of China’s first Twelve-Year (1956-1967) National Science and Technology Development Program, which helped laid down the basic framework for the development of China’s S&T system. In the years that followed, it put forward a number of strategic proposals to the Chinese Government that led to a number of significant initiatives and programs, significantly benefited China’s science and technology. For example, it was due to its proposals that the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) was founded based on the basic science fund of CAS, that the National High-Tech Research and Development Program (863 Program) was launched and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) was founded. Its proposals also led to the launch of post graduate education in the country. In the recent two decades, CASAD has submitted hundreds of strategic studies to the State Council and various governmental agencies, including proposals on reforming the country’s science & technology system, the development of renewable energy system, basic research, strategies for emerging industry, urbanization, and so on. In most of these cases, it was the Academic Divisions that decided on the research topics and made decisions if it should submit a study. Its proposals and advice get increasingly adopted. In 2015, CAS set up a designated unit called CAS Consultation Center for S&T Strategies that is affiliated to the Academic Divisions. With this center in place, CASAD expects to play a more effective role in strategic advice while continuously taking advantage of CAS integrated and comprehensive strength and wisdoms and efforts of the whole Chinese scientific community.
CASAD has been a major player in advocating science excellence. Placing scientific ethics and integrity at the top of Chinese science, it requires all CAS Members to act as role models. In May 2014, it released Towards Excellence in Science at the Global Research Council 2014 Annual Meeting held in Beijing. This statement which advocates seeking truth and innovation to science, was very well received by the international scientific communities. The Academic Divisions is also very much committed to the dissemination of scientific knowledge, spirit and culture among the general public. Science and China Lecture Tour is one of these activities. Since started in 2002, CAS Members have given about 100 tour lectures every year across the country. It is also the organizers of a series of influential academic meeting such as the Forum on Frontiers on Science & Technology (FFST), Scientific Innovation and Strategic Decision-making Forum, and Technological Science Forum.
CASAD is committed to further strengthening its role and capacity as an independent strategic think tank on major issues of national, regional and global concerns. To this end, it will enhance collaboration with other domestic counterparts such as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. It will also strengthen cooperation with other national academies and international organizations concerned. It is confident of a bigger and more effective role in sound strategic advice by joining international efforts to address global challenges and by inviting international partners to address domestic issues of major challenges.