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Chemistry International
Vol. 23, No.5
September 2001


COCI Visit to China, April 2001

Dr. A. Nelson Wright

Representing COCI, I had a most productive and enjoyable visit to China in April 2001. The primary goal of the visit was to spend some time in Beijing with SINOPEC, which last year gained representation on COCI in the person of Dr. Jinliang Qiao, Deputy Director of the Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Industry. SINOPEC, an acronym for China Petrochemical Corporation, is a giant petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group, established in July 1998 by the State on the basis of the former China Petrochemical Corporation, with 95 wholly owned enterprises, sales over USD 28 billion in 1999, and well over 500 000 employees. It is represented on both the New York and London stock markets. In addition to having an opportunity to explain COCI/ IUPAC, and especially those activities pertinent to industry, to company officers, and to developing a modus operandi with the company after Dr. Qiao 's first COCI meeting in Montréal last year, we hoped also to meet representatives of the overall Chinese chemical industry to promote IUPAC and to ascertain their future needs that the Union might be able to address. (Such industrial initiatives are part of the strategies recently developed by President Hayes 's IUPAC/Industry Relations Task Group.) Prof. Cunhao Zhang, of the IUPAC Bureau, also kindly offered to arrange visits for me in Beijing with the pharmaceutical sector. All these meetings were successfully coordinated before my arrival and proved fruitful.

The trip began at the IUPAC/ ICSU Biodiversity Workshop in Kunming with COCI's participation in the final drafting of Recommendations in order to represent "industrial interests". Co-chaired by Profs. Cunhao Zhang and Upendra Pandit, the work shop featured several IUPAC-associated speakers from around the world, as well as other scientists from China. It was particularly interesting for me to discover the extent and quality of research in China focused on the growing understanding of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Much of the research stems from the bio-diversity native to China, which we all wish to preserve! It was also a pleasure to spend some time at the banquet with Prof. Chunli Bai, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), President of the Chinese Chemical Society, and a (newly elected; see p. 129) candidate for the IUPAC Bureau at the election in Brisbane. It was a particular delight following the workshop to participate with many Chinese and overseas colleagues in a field trip arranged by our hosts, the Chinese Association for Science and Technology (CAST), to the historic Yunnan city of Lijiang and its beautiful environs. We were all impressed, especially by the culture, architecture, and costumes of the local, minority Naxi peoples.

Dr. A. Nelson Wright (left) and Mr. Jiming Wang (right); Dr. Jinlian Qiao, at rear.

In Beijing, a scheduled 15-minute audience with Mr. Jiming Wang, President and Director of the Board of SINOPEC, was extended to 45 minutes following my brief presentation about the new directions of IUPAC and its efforts pertinent to industrial concerns! The new brochure "IUPAC and Industry" was also distributed.

From left to right: Mr. Jiaxun Li, Director, Foreign Affairs Department; Mr. Haihong Xu, Financial Manager; Mr. Jiming Wang, President; Ms. Qingtang Yuan, Chief Engineer; Mr. Yong Zhang, Deputy Director, Science and Technology Department.

Others present included Ms. Yuan Qingtang, Chief Engineer; Mr. Li Jiaxun, Director, Foreign Affairs Department; Mr. Zhang Yong, Deputy Director, Science and Technology Department (who made the first contact with COCI as an Observer at our Berlin Meeting); Dr. Qiao; and Mr. Hailong Xu, the interpreter. Mr. Wang 's response to proposed interactions with IUPAC was most enthusiastic! Mr. Wang personally committed SINOPEC to support existing COCI programs; to identify before our Brisbane meeting a SINOPEC candidate for the COCI/UNESCO/UNIDO Training Program; to sponsor (i.e., financially support) a Safety/Environment Workshop in Beijing in 2002 or 2003; and to purchase copies of DIDAC (see DIDACtic Tools for Teaching Chemistry, CI, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 103-105, 2000), to have them translated into Chinese, and then to provide them to the Ministry of Education. He also encouraged COCI to continue initiating IUPAC projects that address issues of industrial/societal concerns, such as the recent Special Topic Issues of PAC on "Chlorine" (Vol. 68, No. 9, 1996) and "Environmental Oestrogens" (Vol. 70, No. 9, 1998). I extended President Hayes 's invitation to attend the World Chemistry Leadership Meeting in Brisbane, and Mr. Wang agreed to try to send a company officer. In the afternoon, Dr. Qiao and I visited the Polyolefins National Research Center and the Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Industry, hosted by Mr. Xi Wang, Senior Engineer. Much of the research/development in both places is focused on polyolefin catalyst systems, and I was impressed by the sophistication of the analytical instruments and the pilot facilities.

A meeting with the Society of Chemical and Petrochemical Industry of China (until recently the Chemical Industry and Engineering Society of China) was hosted by the Secretary General, Mr. Qi Yi Gong. Although obviously strongly influenced by SINOPEC (several officers in attendance were from that company), the Society has more than 60 000 industry members and many Constituent Institutes. Thus, we were able to get the "IUPAC story" across to a broad spectrum of the chemical industry. Mr. Gong described his organization and presented me with extensive documentation. He expressed great interest in the many COCI/ IUPAC activities pertinent to industry and in the new industry brochure that has been widely distributed. We spent considerable time discussing the "Environmental Oestrogen" Special Topic Issue of PAC, and our Chinese colleagues promised to keep COCI informed of the appearance of such industry/societal issues in China. Mr. Gong committed to be a co-organizer with SINOPEC in a planned Safety/Environment Workshop in Beijing; they will help identify areas that need special attention in China, and make sure that many of their companies attend. They were intrigued by the Training Program and will try to identify a candidate before Brisbane–at my suggestion– from one of their smaller companies with "needs". They will try to recruit new Company Associates from among their member companies. Mr. Gong also promised to attempt to respond to Dr. Hayes 's invitation to send an officer to the World Chemistry Leadership Meeting in Brisbane.

Thanks to arrangements by Prof. Cunhao Zhang, I also visited the Pharmaceutical College of Beijing and the Pharmaceutical Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, hosted by Prof. LiHe Zhang, Dr. Han Lin Wen, and Mr. Bao Sheng Huang, among many others. Again, I was impressed by how much really good chemistry is underway to identify the active components in TCM, as well as by their anti-tumor and antibacterial effects. I also appreciated the Chinese emphasis on joint efforts with overseas researchers, including those at the Université de Montréal! I have many brochures on hand describing this college and institute, and I am sure that many "drugs/medicines" will eventually result from this collaborative work. Although direct interaction with COCI is not currently obvious, the Chinese may well participate in the 2002 (or 2003) Safety/Environment Workshop that we are planning with SINOPEC; we shall keep them informed of progress.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks to my many hosts in China, including Ms. Fang Chen of CAST, who arranged things so well for many of us in Kunming and Lijiang; Mr. Wang of SINOPEC (and, of course, Dr. Qiao of COCI and his Foreign Affairs Senior Engineer, Mr. Chaosheng Wang); Mr. Qi Yi Gong of the Society; Prof. Zhang of the IUPAC Bureau; and Prof. LiHe Zhang, Dean of the School of Pharmaceutical Science and Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and to Prof. Albert Fischli for keeping COCI involved in the "Molecular Basis of Biodiversity". The food was great everywhere, the science inspiring, the scenery magnificent, the cultural attractions wonderful (and always also explained in English notices!), and the cities, hotels, and airports more modern than I could ever have anticipated. Of course, there is no better way to "see" a country than in the company of colleagues who live there!

IUPAC 's Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) has submitted the following article, prepared by COCI Chairman Dr. A. Nelson Wright (12539 Ranger, Montréal, Quebec H4J 2L7, Canada; Email: [email protected]) after his visit to China in April 2001.

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