Chinese engineering and technology have developed rapidly since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. China has trained a large number of skilled engineers and technicians across a range of disciplines .These professionals have played a major role in the development of the national economy, in the continuous improvement of quality of life, and in the advancement of science and technology around the world.... More

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Weather Engineering in China

To prevent rain over the roofless 91,000-seat Olympic stadium that Beijing natives have nicknamed the Bird's Nest, the city's branch of the national Weather Modification Office--itself a department of the larger China Meteorological Administration--has prepared a three-stage program for the 2008 Olympics this August.

First, Beijing's Weather Modification Office will track the region's weather via satellites, planes, radar, and an IBM p575 supercomputer, purchased from Big Blue last year, that executes 9.8 trillion floating point operations per second. It models an area of 44,000 square kilometers (17,000 square miles) accurately enough to generate hourly forecasts for each kilometer.

Then, using their two aircraft and an array of twenty artillery and rocket-launch sites around Beijing, the city's weather engineers will shoot and spray silver iodide and dry ice into incoming clouds that are still far enough away that their rain can be flushed out before they reach the stadium.

Finally, any rain-heavy clouds that near the Bird's Nest will be seeded with chemicals to shrink droplets so that rain won't fall until those clouds have passed over. Zhang Qian, head of Beijing's Weather Modification Office, explains, "We use a coolant made from liquid nitrogen to increase the number of droplets while decreasing their average size. As a result, the smaller droplets are less likely to fall, and precipitation can be reduced." August is part of Northeast Asia's rainy season; chances of precipitation over Beijing on any day that month will approach 50 percent. Still, while tests with clouds bearing heavy rain loads haven't always been successful, Qian claims that "the results with light rain have been satisfactory."

Modifying the weather may seem a hubristic exercise. But arguably, given what else the Chinese have already invested to make this year's Olympics a showcase for China's emergence as a 21st-century superpower, it's almost the least they could do. Following the announcement in 2001 that the 2008 Games had been awarded to Beijing, the government of the People's Republic initiated $40 billion of new construction there, bringing 120,000 Chinese migrant workers into the city (at about $130 each a month) and triggering a five-year steel shortage worldwide. Today, Beijing boasts, alongside the vast Bird's Nest, megastructures like a new airport terminal that on its own is bigger than any airport elsewhere in the world. One measure of the city's transformation is that today 300 or so new towers, some designed by the most avant-garde architects on the planet, rise where a few short years ago there were only siheyuans (traditional Chinese courtyard residences) interspersed with bland 1950s-era boxes in the Sino-Soviet style.

Equally, though, the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates that 1.5 million of Beijing's natives will have been displaced from their homes by government edict when the Olympics finally begins. This preemptory modernization is of a piece with China's scale, its 1.32 billion population, and the authoritarian control exerted by its Communist central government, which nowadays is dominated by technocrats and engineers who favor mega-projects like the world's largest dam (the Three Gorges dam over the Yangtze River), its highest railway (the Qinghai-Tibet line), and even its biggest Ferris wheel (in Beijing, opening in 2009). Unsurprisingly, therefore, China's national weather-engineering program is also the world's largest, with approximately 1,500 weather modification professionals directing 30 aircraft and their crews, as well as 37,000 part-time workers--mostly peasant farmers--who are on call to blast away at clouds with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers.

The Chinese began experimental weather engineering in 1958 to irrigate the country's north, where average yearly rainfall compares with that during the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and sudden windstorms blasting down from the Gobi desert have made drought and famine constant possibilities. Today, the People's Republic budgets $60 to $90 million annually for its national Weather Modification Office. As for the return on this investment, the state-run news agency Xinhua claims that between 1999 and 2007, the office rendered 470,000 square kilometers of land hail-free and created more than 250 billion tons of rain--an amount sufficient to fill the Yellow River, China's second largest, four times over. Furthermore, while Qian's weather engineers in Beijing have been testing their capabilities for the past two years, the Chinese say that during the past five years, similar efforts have already helped produce good weather at national events like the World Expo in Yunnan, the Asian Games in Shanghai, and the Giant Panda Festival in Sichuan.

Although they possess the world's largest weather modification program, the Chinese point to the Russians as being the most advanced. In 1986, Russian scientists deployed cloud-seeding measures to prevent radioactive rain from Chernobyl from reaching Moscow, and in 2000 they cleared clouds before an anniversary ceremony commemorating the end of World War II; China's then president, Jiang Zemin, witnessed the results firsthand and pushed to adopt the same approach back home. As for the historical credit for starting the whole weather-engineering ball rolling back in 1946, that belongs to employees of General Electric in Schenectady, NY--most notably, scientist Bernard Vonnegut (brother of the late novelist Kurt), who worked out silver iodide's potential to provide crystals around which cloud moisture would condense. During the 1960s and '70s, the United States invested millions of federal dollars in experiments like Stormfury (aimed at hurricane control), Skywater (aimed at snow- and rainfall increase), and Skyfire (aimed at lightning suppression). Simultaneously, the U.S. military tried to use weather modification as a weapon in Project Popeye, during the Vietnam War, by rain-making over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in an effort to close it.

Nevertheless, because weather is the epitome of a complex, emergent system, no analytical models or methodologies existed that produced data conclusively, proving that weather modification worked. In the United States, research funding died down and commercial weather modification efforts became hemmed in by stringent regulation. A 2003 report from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that despite more than 30 years of efforts, "there is still no convincing scientific proof of the efficacy of intentional weather modification efforts."

Still, according to William Cotton, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, "as far as the science of weather modification is concerned, the evidence that it works in certain situations is very compelling." The Chinese are certainly in no doubt: once they have demonstrated their capabilities to the rest of the world at the Olympics later this year, the party's central planners intend to expand their national weather modification program in 2010, turning the Weather Modification Office into a separate government ministry that will double the amount of rain-making and other weather engineering that China is now doing.


Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering in China

Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering in China presents the best research achievements of mechanical engineering in China. Moreover, it also contains articles by internationally recognized authors related to the same fields. It aims to promote rapid communication and exchanges between all researchers, scientists, engineers working in the areas of mechanical engineering areas in China and abroad.

The journal publishes original research papers by individual researcher and research groups. It also carries reviews on important development areas and these may either be submitted in the normal way or invited by the editors. The journal is strictly peer-reviewed and only accepts original submissions in English.

Subject areas include all main branches of theoretical and applied mechanical engineering. Specific topics include theory of machines and mechanisms, gearing and transmissions, mechanical dynamics, mechanical structures and stress analysis, mechanical design and theory, tribology and surface technology, bionics, micro/nano manufacturing, shape manufacturing, machining manufacturing, mechanical manufacturing and automation, measuring and testing technologies and instruments, robotics and automation technology, MEMS, and green manufacturing.


Frontiers of Architecture and Civil Engineering in China

Frontiers of Architecture and Civil Engineering in China offers a multidisciplinary mix of peer-reviewed papers and case studies intended to introduce and reflect significant and pioneering achievements in the field of architecture and civil engineering. Coverage includes articles in architecture and urban planning; structural engineering; hydraulic engineering; and geotechnical engineering.

The journal aims to promote rapid communication and exchange among scholars, engineers and architects in China and abroad.


Architecture, Construction & Engineering China, U.S. Commercial Service China


The construction market is a major driver of China’s economy. During the 11th Five Year period (2006-2010), the plan for total construction is estimated to reach 2 billion square meters each year. According to the Industrialization Report issued by the Ministry of Construction’s Promotion Center for Housing, by 2010, China will have built 80 billion square meters of new housing. By 2020, estimates are 205 billion square meters. Construction spending in China increased 165% in the last four years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, and is still expanding at 25% annually.

China is in the midst of a historic urbanization process. Coupled with the privatization of the real estate market, higher living standards, and the presence of multinational corporations in China, home ownership is increasing markedly and demand for residential housing will continue to be strong. High housing costs, poor construction quality, ever-changing Chinese government real estate-related regulations, and limited financing options continue to drag on the housing sector.


Under the 11th Five-Year Plan, China will invest $26 billion in the construction of eight hydropower projects and $5.9 billion in transferring electricity from western to eastern China. The total investment for water conservation and hydropower projects will exceed $104 billion. China will not only develop hydroelectricity and nuclear power plants, but will also be exploring and developing large coal bases. China recently explored 28 mid-to-large gas fields, and the development of gas fields and pipelines will also offer potential construction opportunities. Under the 11th Five Year Plan, China plans to build 4 major pipelines for oil and natural gas transport. Furthermore, China will be expanding several key airports and build new sub-branch airports.


On January 5, 2007, the Ministry of Construction issued implementing regulations for foreign-invested design enterprises (FIDEs) to apply for architecture, engineering and design licenses in China under Decree 114. With the issuance of implementing rules for Decree 114, American ACE firms can now apply for engineering and design licenses in China and pursue ACE-related opportunities.

Market Entry

Domestic design institutes dominate the middle and low-end market. Their strengths are understanding the needs of the local market and knowledge of government policies. However, they lack quality control, exposure to international standards, and professional management experience. Foreign building products and foreign ACE services are perceived as superior to local substitutes.

Most of the clients of foreign engineering firms active in China are foreign investors. These projects are mainly infrastructure projects, factories, hotels, luxury housing, offices, and malls as the requirements for these projects are more sophisticated and clients usually demand premium engineering services and consulting work.

More and more domestic real estate developers are looking for high-quality architectural services. This niche market offers foreign ACE firms good opportunities in the long term. While Chinese architects have rich experience in small and medium-sized buildings, they often lack experience with large-scale projects such as integrated projects. Other weak points include intelligent architecture and the integration of new technology and building materials

Despite the opportunities in China’s market, foreign firms will find that China is not an easy market. American companies have to recognize the need for a special approach to a market with such a contrasting cultural, political and economic landscape. The most successful businesses in China are those that take the time to build strong relationships, become recognized in the industry, and develop products and services that cater to Chinese buyers.

Building good local relations are crucial to foreign firms seeking to provide ACE services in China. Forming a close relationship with a local partner can help you navigate the opaque regulatory system, as well as provide a strong local presence with local contacts.

Presently, most of China’s large projects need to go through an open tender system, and all the bids will be accepted on a competitive basis. The winning bidders and new venue owners will have a great deal of autonomy in deciding how to construct and operate the project and how to award this work.

Home Ownership Benefits

A substantial tax advantage is available for those Chinese in the high-income bracket who own their own homes. People in this category are a small percentage, but are still comparable in numbers to the entire population of Canada. Some people are buying additional homes just so they can continue receiving the tax benifit.

Getting established in China requires patience, commitment, and most of all, time. American firms may need several years to make a profit in China and will face stiff competition from local firms and from other foreign firms.

Fast Facts

  • By 2010, China will have built 80 billion square meters of new housing.
  • Ministry of Construction issued implementing regulations for foreign-invested design enterprises (FIDEs) to apply for architecture, engineering and design licenses in China under Decree 114. With the issuance of implementing rules for Decree 114, American ACE firms can now apply for engineering and design licenses in China and pursue ACE-related opportunities.

Upcoming Events and Tradeshows

This section provides a listing of upcoming architecture, construction and engineering-related events in China and in the US, including industry shows and trade missions. While FCS China is directly involved with some of these events, the majority here have no direct relationship with the FCS and are listed solely as a convenience to our users.

For more information, please contact the organizing group as listed in the event description. Verify the information before making any commitments - we are not responsible for accuracy of information or changes in events' schedules.


Software engineering in China: The next big thing

China is gearing up to become a serious contender for American and European software development outsourcing contracts. This column reports on what the Chinese government -- and the country's universities and businesses -- are doing to train professionals and upgrade domestic software development practices.

illustrationSoftware is ubiquitous. It runs our businesses and controls our phones, entertainment devices, appliances, automobiles, and countless other things that humans manufacture. Even sneakers! Adidas recently announced that its latest running shoe has an embedded computer chip to adjust the shoe's performance for each individual step during a run.1 Although the United States now has the greatest number of companies that depend on automation, the rest of the industrial world isn't far behind. Just observe how many people in cities around the globe are walking down the street -- or worse, driving a car -- with cell phones glued to their ears.

Years ago, the term software crisis entered our everyday vocabulary because it was clear that we needed more software than we could produce. How can we keep up with the demand without sacrificing software quality?2

Many companies have turned to international outsourcing, where India and Eastern Europe lead the market for software services. Both offer an educated workforce available at low cost for high-quality work. But today, another important contender is entering that marketplace: The People's Republic of China. For years, the Chinese educational system has been gearing up to meet the demand for software engineers who can compete in the global marketplace. Below, we will look at China's emergence first from the perspective of Professor Haiqing Liu of Wuhan University, a visiting scholar at Worcester Polytechnic Institute during the 2004-2005 academic year. Then, I will report what I learned from my own informal, Web-based research on the state of the Chinese software industry.

Two phases of development

According to Professor Liu, Chinese software engineering has proceeded in two distinct phases. In the first phase, people recognized the need for software engineering instruction in the college curriculum. Now, in the second phase, software engineers are graduating from the universities and moving into the marketplace.

China began to consider software engineering as a serious discipline around 1982, when China Machine Press and McGraw-Hill published a first edition translation of Roger S. Pressman's Software Engineering, A Practitioner's Approach as a joint effort. This triggered a period of research and development in the universities, or academies.

Several Chinese academicians entered into software engineering research in the early 1980s, and a major milestone during this period was the publication of A Programming Development Environment Conforming to Various Ways of Programming by Professor Zhisong Tang of the Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS). An Academy member, Professor Tang is well known for his work in temporal logic and perhaps best known for a set of tools he developed, known as the XYZ tools. He constructed several software development environments using the tools that included a set of hierarchical languages based upon temporal logic. In Chinese, the system of languages is called Xiliehua Yuyan Zu; hence, the XYZ label.

According to Professor Liu, another major contributor to Chinese software engineering is Professor Fuqing Yang, a Chinese Academy of Sciences member and the leader and chief scientist of the Jade Bird project. Started in 1983, this is China's largest and most important software technology research project; it has received funding and support through five consecutive state-sponsored five-year plans. With more than 300 contributors from more than 20 institutions, Jade Bird represents academic collaboration and cooperation on a scale unparalleled by any project here in the United States -- although many programs administered by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health do have as many contributors to the different sub-projects.

Jade Bird's goal is the development of the Chinese software industry through "doing research and practice of industrialization of software production, providing advanced software engineering technologies tools for software development enterprises, and helping them to improve their software processes."4 The project has introduced many modern software engineering practices, such as component-based development and product families, to Chinese software engineering students and practitioners.

Professor Liu describes Jade Bird as a series of releases that have evolved into a modern software development environment. Significant milestones include:

* Initial release in 1990 supporting structured software development

* Second release in 1995 adding object-oriented development support

* In 1997, addition of component-based reuse and support for product families

Today, the ongoing work involves adding new features, improving usability, and developing a component library to promote high-level reuse.

A third notable in Chinese software engineering is Professor Jiafu Xu from Nanjing University, who has done extensive work in software theory, program transformation, and formal program representation. He was also influential in founding the State Key Laboratory for Novel Software Technology hosted at Nanjing University.

His efforts are at the forefront of program analysis. While his work on security and reliability is quite theoretical, his results are applicable to the development of reliable software.

Professor Liu claims that the second, practical phase of software engineering advancement in China began in the 1990s and has produced more than 3,000 software enterprises. Although most are small-to-medium-sized enterprises, a few number more than 1,000 people.

Professor Liu claims that fewer than ten of these enterprises have achieved the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) Level 3 (defined), which means having standard process descriptions and procedures in place to achieve predictable software development quality, cost, and schedule. Perhaps this means that important software engineering knowledge has not yet found its way from the universities into industry.

For China to compete effectively with India for outsourcing business from the Americas and Europe, these companies must improve their CMM levels. At present, India has perhaps the highest percentage of software companies rated at CMM Level 3 and above. Often, large corporations are compelled to award contracts only to suppliers with CMM certification,5 so the rewards for Chinese companies who establish software process improvement programs could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars.


Patent Protection for China's Genetic Engineering

China will introduce stricter patent rules to accelerate advances of genetic medical treatment, a patent official said recently.

Ma Zhaoruo, an official with the State Intellectual Property Office, said at a human genetic diagnosis and treatment symposium held in this capital of central China's Hunan Province that although the study of genetic engineering is at an initial stage, the clinical advances in techniques have shown the tendency of becoming the most important means in medical treatment.

In the next five years, China will accelerate the clinical experimentation of genetic therapy to industrialize the patented medical results.

China has dealt with over 190 patents related to genetic medical treatment submitted from the United States, Japan and some European countries.

Ma said that most of the patent applications are related to therapeutic methods rather than new genetic materials or genomes.

China's genetic engineering industry set off in the late 1980s, two decades later than some other countries. Insufficient financial support has also limited its progress.

China has given the genetic engineering priority to tackling key technical problems in genetic treatment, and has gained quite a few patents in the sector, according to sources at the symposium.

So far, the country has laid a good foundation in the genetic treatment of liver cancer and pre-senile dementia. The technology has been implemented in clinic treatment.