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Secondly, “For the technology development…for example, if we want a satellite, it can be organized by the government,” she said. “But the problem is, they do emphasize basic science, but in an organizing way” – from the top down – “instead of creating it from the science level. Although a lot of scientists are more and more influential, people still think that we can do it effectively the way as they do it in technical development. That’s a problem people have: they cannot wait. They expect your results, second day. They tell scientists, ‘You got the money. And you organize a team! Make it big! And the Nobel Prize, tomorrow!’ That way!”

Yet “of course, it works, as well, because good researchers get more grant in this way. And look at the progress we are making. Now we have some people really understand the science. And they know the rule of the game. And they are serious about their work. But I think in the long term, scientists in basic science should be given more freedom and longer time in the direction and production.

“So I have to jump to the third question. In this society, now, and in the culture, I think Chinese people now emphasize the technology more than science. From beginning, from long time ago in our history, we have the tradition of research for application. That’s our culture. For five thousand years.

“Furthermore, in our society – because it’s very rapidly developing, economically – the trend of the social system causes a turmoil of thinking. In terms of belief. People are more materialist,” she said. “But for the basic science, people have to have very quiet minds. Clear. And focused. And….” Searching for a term, she turned to Dong Zhe. He pursed his lips, then said, “Tolerate the hard work.” And the uncertainty. She picked up the exchange: “But the first thing is to be very interested. Curious. Very curious. And then tolerate the loneliness. For a long time. And maybe without any answer.”

But, I said, it’s not just the individual. “The group,” she said. “The collaboration. That’s another problem. Difficult. First thing is, because of all these problems, everybody want them to be successful. And everybody think themselves is most important. That is the trend in our society. The second thing is, again, cultural. Chinese people don’t want to say negative things at beginning. They don’t want to make clear how to divide benefit” – credit – “at beginning. So if it becomes very successful, then people quarrel.”

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