Zhang Zhihong, a biophysicist at Fudan University in China, receives millions in grants from China's state-run science institutions for his research into the biochemistry of cell membranes and type 2 diabetes. Zhang, like many of his peers in the life sciences, gets microgrants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) of about $25,000 (US) to support his own research interests. But Zhang has also received a grant of up to $4 million from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) for his participation in China's $250 million proteomics project.

Such projects, which often put emphasis on energy development, engineering, or agricultural and industrial goals rather than basic research, have traditionally received the bulk of science funding in China. This policy has been harshly criticized by scientists in China and abroad who complain that MOST and its 863 program, which aims to develop China into a high-tech nation,...

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