Gu is a leading scientist at the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Ltd., the nation's leading aircraft maker. Born in 1930, Gu is an academician at both the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Leading the development of China's J-8 and J-8 II fighter jets, Gu has made contributions to the country's advancement in aviation weaponry and equipment.
Wang Dazhong, born in 1935, is an internationally reputed nuclear scientist.
A CAS academician and former president of Tsinghua University, he has dedicated himself to the research and development of advanced nuclear energy technologies.
The ceremony, held in Beijing to honor distinguished scientists, engineers and research achievements, was attended by approximately 3,000 people and honored 264 projects, with 46 winning the State Natural Science Award, 61 the State Technological Invention Award, and 157 the State Scientific and Technological Progress Award.
Eight foreign experts and one international organization won the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award for their collaboration with Chinese scientists.
PROGRESS IN BASIC RESEARCH
This year's ceremony honored two projects with the first-place prize of the State Natural Science Award.
Chemist Bao Xinhe and his team won the prize for inventing nano-confined catalysis, which realized the direct and efficient synthesis of light olefins and high-value chemicals from coal-synthesized gas. It overturned the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis process, which has dominated the coal chemistry for nearly a century, leading the new trend of efficient and water-saving coal chemistry.
Another team, led by Chemist Zhao Dongyuan, won the prize for the production and application of ordered mesoporous polymer and carbon material. It realized electrochemical energy storage devices with high specific capacity, high power and long cycle stability.
Other projects that were presented with the State Natural Science Award included research on maths, quantum physics, the spiral structure of the Milky Way, ancient fossils, as well as material science.
China has substantially increased funding for basic research, with an average annual growth rate of 16.9 percent since 2012.
The country's spending on basic research reached 133.6 billion yuan (about 20.4 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019, accounting for over 6 percent of the R&D expenditure.
China has become the second largest contributor of high-quality scientific and technological papers in the world.
DIVERSE TECH APPLICATIONS
The ceremony also highlighted major breakthroughs in technologies supporting China's economic and social development, as well as innovation on improving people's livelihood.
A batch of key technologies for peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality, pollution control and clean-energy application were honored, such as the biological denitrification of sewage and the advanced treatment of industrial flue gas.
Research programs associated with food safety and stable grain output also received awards. A program led by Luo Lijun, a researcher with the Shanghai Agrobiological Gene Center, won first prize in the State Scientific and Technological Progress Award, with research in the protection and utilization of rice genetic resources.
The varieties cultivated in the program have been popularized and grown on 270 million mu (18 million hectares) in China and 44.23 million mu abroad.
Awards were also given to medical breakthroughs including research on the immunogenetic mechanisms of leprosy, technologies for the early accurate diagnosis of lung cancer, and the industrialization of self-developed high-field magnetic resonance medical-imaging equipment.
A respiratory disease prevention and control team led by China's top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan was awarded the State Scientific and Technological Progress Award, for its contribution to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of major respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer, SARS and COVID-19.
In 2020, Zhong received the Medal of the Republic, the highest state honor, for his outstanding contribution to fighting the COVID-19 epidemic.
Technologies associated with people's daily life, such as ultra-high definition video decoding technology, urban architectural heritage protection technology, and the precision nutrition design of tropical fruits and vegetables, were also rewarded.
During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), China made great achievements in scientific and technological innovation, which has played a better role in producing economic benefits, promoting industrial development and improving people's lives.