Between the State and Science:Establishment of Science Funding System in China and Its Historical Significance

During the last 40 years since China’s Reform and Opening up, the establishment of a competitive science funding system and the creation of the National Natural Science Foundation of China(NSFC) is an important milestone in the process of basic research development and science system reform in China. Its substantial role is not merely to reform allocation mechanism of national research resources, but more importantly to reshape the relationship between the state and science in China, which has stabilized the institutional basis of S&T system reform during the country’s transition from planned economy to market system. This paper investigates the historical background of the science funding system from trial implementation to formal organization and its influential factors in the process, in order to show the intimate interaction between government and science in the early years of China’s reform and opening up, especially scientists’ important role in the shaping of major policies in science and technology. It also reveals and explains the historical significance of NSFC to foster basic research and deepen S&T system reform in China.