A Brief Introduction to the Studies on

History of Science in the People’s Republic of China

Liu Dun

Institute for the History of Natural Science

Chinese Academy of Science

Beijing

1.  A Historical Review

China is a country with its particular tradition of historiography. Since Si-ma Qian 司马迁 (ca. 145 BC- ), the father of Chinese historiography and the author of Shi Ji 史记 (Historical Recordscompiled in ca. 100 BC), (musicology and metrology), Li (calendar making), Tiangua 天官 (astronomy and astrology), Hequ河渠 (hydrography and water conservancy), all those subjects can be compared with the modern concept “science and technology”, had been included in all books of the official history of dynasties. Following this tradition, some scholars had paid attention to the history of science during the first half of the 20th century. Nevertheless, compared with the situation in European countries and United States at the same time, the studies on history of science in China were just in its initial stage. According to Xi Zezong席泽宗,a distinguished historian of astronomy and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), until 1949, the number of scholars who engaged in history of science was about 50, and all of them were amateur researchers.

For example, the two pioneers of the modern studies in history of Chinese mathematics, Li Yan 李俨(18921963was a railway engineer and Qian Baocong钱宝琮(18921974was a professor of mathematics; and concerning the earlier studies in history of physics, both Ye Qisun叶企孙(18981977 and Qian Linzhao钱临照(19061999 were physicists education abroad. The following are some scholars who engaged in the modern studies on the history of science before 1949:

General:ZHANG Yinlin张荫麟,ZHANG Xinglang张星烺,LIU Chaoyang刘朝阳

Archaeology: DONG Zuobin董作宾,  GUO Moruo郭沫若

Mathematics: LI Yan 李俨,  QIAN Baocong钱宝琮, YAN Dunjie严敦杰

Astronomy: ZHU Wenxin朱文鑫, GAO Pingzi高平子, ZHANG Yuzhe张钰哲

Physics: YE Qisun叶企孙, QIAN Linzhao钱临照

Chemistry: WANG Jin王琎, ZHANG Zigao张子高, YUAN Hanqing袁瀚青,

           LI Qiaoping李乔萍, DING Xuxian丁绪贤

Geo-sciences: WANG Yong王庸, ZHANG Hongzhao张鸿钊,ZHU Kezhen竺可桢

Biology: XIA Weiying夏纬瑛

Engineering & Machinery: MAO Yisheng茅以升, WANG Zhenduo王振铎,

                         LIU Xianzhou刘仙洲

Architecture: LIANG Sicheng梁思成, LIU Dunzhen刘敦桢

Water conservancy: ZHENG Zhaojing郑肇经

Medicine: LI Tao李涛, CHEN Bangxian  陈邦贤

Here are some important works on the history of science which appeared before 1949.

LI Yan李俨, Collection of Treatises on History of Chinese Mathematics中算史论丛, 4 vols., 1933-1947, Shanghai.

LI Yan李俨, Outline of Chinese Mathematics in History中国数学大纲, 2 vol., 1931, Shanghai.

QIAN Baocong钱宝琮, A History of Chinese Mathematics中国算学史, 1932, Beiping.

ZHU Wenxin朱文鑫, A Study of the Chinese Contribution to Astronomy天文考古录, 1933, Shanghai.

ZHU Wenxin朱文鑫, General Annals of Chinese Calendars历法通志, 1934, Shanghai.

DONG Zuobin董作宾, On the Calendar of the Yin Period殷历谱, 1945, Lizhuang.

CHEN Zungui陈遵妫, Introduction to the History of Chinese Astronomy中国天文学史初论, in Yuzhou,15(1945):9.

ZHENG Zhaojing郑肇经, History of Water Conservancy and Irrigation Engineering in China中国水利史, 1939, Shanghai.

WANG Yong王庸, History of Geography in China中国地理学史, 1938, Changsha.

ZHANG Hongzhao张鸿钊, A Study of Rocks, Fossils and Minerals as Known in Chinese Literature石雅,1921,Beiping.

QIAN Linzhao钱临照, Expositions of the Optics and Mechanics in the Mohist Canon释墨经中光学力学诸条in Studies Presented to Mr. Li Shizeng on His 60 Birthday, 1940, Kunming.

LIU Xianzhou刘仙洲, Materials for the History of Engineering in China中国机械工程史料, 1935, Beiping. 

WANG Zhenduo王振铎, Studies and Reconstructions of Chinese Compass, Seismography, South-pointing Carriage, and Hodometer司南·罗盘·地动仪·计里鼓车等古代仪器的研究与复原, 1936-1949.

ZHANG Xinglang张星烺, Materials for the Study of the Intercourse of China with other Countries中西交通史料汇编,6 vols.,1930, Beiping.

FAN Xingzhun范行准, Chinese Medical History中华医学史, in Chinese Journal of the History of Medicine,1(1947):1,2;1(1948):3,4.

WANG Jin王琎, On the Scientific Thought in China中国之科学思想, in Science, 7(1922):10.

LI Qiaoping李乔萍, History of Chemistry in China中国化学史, 1940, Changsha.

ZHANG Zigao张子高, History of Scientific Development科学发达史, 1930, Shanghai

1949 is the year when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded. Soon after that the same year in November, the CAS was established. The first President of the CAS was Guo Moruo郭沫若(18921978, a well-known Marxist historian and archaeologist. In the meantime, two projects that the CAS was going to carry forward were: (1) to collect and start out the reference materials about the history of Chinese science and technology; (2) to introduce, translate and publish the works of modern science from advanced countries. This started the process of institutionalization of history of science in China.

In 1954, the National Commission of History of Natural Science was set up by the CAS. Formed by 17 members, this commission was chaired by Zhu Kezhen 竺可桢(18901974, a meteorologist and now Vice-President of the CAS, along with two vice-Chairmen: physicist Ye Qisun and historian Hou Wailu 侯外庐(19031987. And most committee members were those amateur historians of science of renown during the 30s-40s. Subsequently on August 27 1954, Zhu Kezhen published an article titled “Why should we study the history of Chinese science?”in People’s Daily, which was considered a signal and the preparation of public opinion for the institutionalization of the history of science in the new China.

However, 1956 was a significant year for this institutionalization. First of all, in January, a 12-year Program for Developing Science and Technology was approved by the central government, and fortunately the history of science was listed in it as one of important items. Half a year later, the First National Symposium of History of Natural Science was held by the CAS in Beijing from 9-12, July. Near 100 people participated and 24 papers were read. One proposal raised in this symposium was to organize a delegation for attending the 8th International Congress on History of Science (ICHS) which would take place in Italy in September. Another was set up, as soon as possible, a professional institution for the studies on history of science.

   The Chinese delegation was composed in August. Zhu Kezhen was appointed as its head, and its members included Li Yan and Liu Xianzhou 刘仙洲 (18901975) a historian of engineer taught in Tsing-Hua University. First stopping in Moscow, the delegation visited the Soviet Union colleagues in the Institute for History of Natural Science and Technology, to learn experience of establishing and administering a national research institution.

   On September 2, once the Chinese delegation arrived in Florence, Zhu Kezhen was invited to speak at the opening assembly of the 8th ICHS. This was the first formal occasion that the scholars from the PRC took part in international activities in the field of history of science. It was a great pity that this action broke off before long due to political reasons. It was not until 1978 that did Chinese scholars return to the international community.

   In October 1956, the CAS came to a decision for creating a journal titled Kexueshi jikan 科学史集刊 (Collected Papers of History of Science ), and Qian Baocong was appointed as its editor. Afterward on November 6, another decision was approved by the Standing Committee of the CAS, which was to establish the Office of History of Natural Science, the predecessor of the Institute for the History of Natural Science (IHNS) . So far the preparation of founding a professional institution of history of science in the CAS was finished.

   The Office was eventually founded on January 1st 1957. The first Director of the Office was Li Yan and the initial members in the Office were 8 in number. For a period, the office belonged to the Division of Philosophy and Social Science, one of the four Divisions of the CAS in that time. In 1975, this Office was extended as Institute. After the Division of Philosophy and Social Science was separated from the CAS and reconstructed as the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) in 1977, the Institute for the History of Natural Science remained within the jurisdiction of the CAS.

   According to a rough statistics, during the first two decades since it’s founding, the members of the IHNS published 18 books and about 200 articles, edited 2 periodicals and numerous collection of papers. In the mean time, scholars working in other organizations and even as amateurs, also contributed to the studies on history of science.

   Nevertheless, these studies sometimes was interfered with political movements; especially they seriously suffered during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

2.  The Current Situation

This part will deal with the recent development in the history of science in P.R.Cina. Emphasis will be put on different aspects concerning the institutionalization  in this developing country.

2.1  Institutions

(1)    Institute for the History of Natural Science (IHNS)

Founding in 1957, the IHNS is the sole comprehensive and multi-disciplinary organization devoted to research on history of science in China, as well as one of  few research centers for the history of Chinese science and technology in the world. The IHNS now has about 120 members, and among them over 40 are senior research fellows. It is divided into 4 Research Department: History of Ancient Chinese Science, History of Technology and Applied Science, History of Science in the World and Modern-Contemporary China, and Comprehensive Studies on History of Science. It also has the editorial office putting-out two specialized periodicals as well as the highly specialized library. The library now has in its collection more than 140,000 volumes, of which close to 3,000 are thread-bound ancient Chinese books. In particular, a collection of hundreds-volume of ancient Chinese mathematics works donated by the later Professor Li Yan is unparalleled in the world. Since 1978, the IHNS has trained more than 110 graduates students for both Ph.D. and Master degrees. In the 43 years since its founding, the members of IHNS have published more than 250 research works and the presented close to 6000 papers on the history of science.

(2)    Chinese Society for the History of Science and TechnologyCSHST

Established in October 1980, CSHST is a nationwide non-governmental organization for research in the field of the history of science, and is subordinated to Chinese Association for Science and Technology. It currently has 1300 full-fledged members. The successive Presidents of its council were Qian Linzhao, Ke Jun柯俊, and Lu Jiaxi卢嘉锡. At present, Lu Yongxiang路甬祥 and Xi Zengzong hold the position as co-Presidents. Under the society, there are 11 Scientific Commissions and 2 inter-society Commissions. Since its founding 18 years ago, CSHST has strengthened its contacts with international Community of the history of science. Since the 16th ICHS held in Bucharest in 1981, the society has sent delegation to each congress of this series.

(3)    Other main institutions relating to the history of science

There are 3 kinds of these institutions. The first are those belonging to the CAS. Some Chinese scientists working in various institutes have historical interests in their research field and pursue their studies in the history of science. For instance, Professor Wu Wenjun吴文俊,the leading mathematician of China working in the Institute of System Science, published several papers on the historical studies in ancient Chinese mathematics; and he asserted, in different occasions, that the origin of his current results on mechanized proof could be traced back to his studies in ancient Chinese mathematical classics during the 1970s.

Institute of Systematic Science

Institute of Mathematics

Institute of Geography

Institute of Microbiology

Institute of Botany

Institute of Theoretical Physics

Institute of Scientific Policy and Administrative Science

Beijing Observatory

Shanghai Observatory

Zijinshan ObservatoryNanjing

Shanxi Observatory( Xi’an)

Institute of Silicate (Shanghai)

The second kind of institutions are those belonging to other government organizations. One important unit is the Institute of Medical Literature, which is a part of the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine under the jurisdiction of the National Ministry of Public Health. The Institute has a specialized library with a rich collection of ancient Chinese medical books, as well as a museum of traditional medicine. There are also some groups of scholars studying in the history of science in Chinese Academy of Social Science. For example, under the Institute of Philosophy, there is a research center for Science, Technology and Society (STS).

Institute of Medical Literature (Ministry of Public Health)

Office of History of Architecture (Ministry of Architectural Engineering)

Office of History of Water Conservancy (Ministry of Water Conservancy)

Office of Agriculture Heritage (Ministry of Agriculture)

Office of History of Military Science (Military Academy of the PLA)

Center of Science, Technology and Society (Chinese Academy of Social Science)

The third and most active Institutes are those in universities and colleges. In 1999, in collaboration with the IHNS, two Departments concerned were successively established: the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Jiaotong University in Shanghai, the Department of History of Science and Scientific Archaeology at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, both are in top-level universities in China. In BeijingPekingUniversity, a Center of Science and Society was set up in 1986, and nowadays, it has 8 teachers and has trained more than 100 graduate students, among them many study the history of science. The Institute of History of Science and Technology, at QinghuaTsing-HuaUniversity was set up in 1993, and its main works are in the history of technology. Meanwhile, the Institute in Inner Mongolia Normal University at Huhhot should be given a special stress: created by Li Di李迪, the Institute has reputation for its research on the history of mathematics, as well as the history of science and technology in Chinese minority nations.

Department of History and Philosophy of Science (Shanghai Jiaotong University)

Center of Science and Society (Beijing University)

Institute of History of Science and Technology (Qinghua University)

Center of History of Science (Beijing Normal University)

Department of History of Science and Scientific Archaeology (China University of Science and Technology, Hefer)

Institute of History of Science  (Inner Mongolia Normal University, Huhhot)

Research Office of History of Metallurgy (Beijing University of Science and Technology)

Study Group of History of Mathematics (Northwest University, Xi’an)

Institute of History of Science and Natural Dialects ( East China Normal University, Shanghai)

Research Office of History of Technology (Central China Polytechnic, Wuhan)

Research Office for Agricultural Heritage (South China Agriculture University, Guangzhou)

2.2 Journals

The first-class national journals on the history of science is the quarterly Studies in the History of Natural Science自然科学史研究. Its predecessor was the Collected Papers on the History of Science科学史集刊, an irregular periodical, which was created in 1958, and stopped publication in 1966 because of the Cultural Revolution. It resumed publication in 1982, when this journal was changed to its present title. It is the sole national journal in the PRC devoted to interdisciplinary and comprehensive studies in the history of science, technology and medicine, co-sponsored by the IHNS and CSHST, and now widely distribute at home and abroad.

Another journal, also run by the IHNS and CSHST, is the quarterly China Historical Materials of Science and Technology中国科技史料. The aim of this journal is to publish the papers concerning the first hand references about China’s Science and Technology.

There are some other journals also devoted to the history of science, either particular to the history of a discipline, or by means of setting up special columns on the history of science.

Studies in the History of Natural Science自然科学史研究, quarterly, since 1982, ed.by IHNS & CSHST.

Collected Papers of History of Science科学史集刊, 1958-66, total 9 issues.

China Historical Materials of Science and Technology中国科技史料, quarterly, since 1980, ed. by IHNS & CSHST.

Collected Translations of History of Science科学史译丛, 1980-1989, total 37 issues.

Journals of Dialects of Nature自然辩证法通讯, bimonthly, since 1978, ed.by CAS.

Science科学,bimonthly, now 52th volumes.

Exploration of Nature大自然探索,quarterly, since 1982, ed. by Sichuan Science & Technology Press.

Science, Technology and Dialectics 科学技术与辩证法,bimonthly, since   , ed. by Shanxi University.

Chinese Journals of Medical History中华医史杂志, quarterly, since 1971, ed.by Chinese Academy of Traditional Medicine.

Agricultural History of China,quarterly中国农史, since 1982, ed.by Chinese Academy of Agriculture & Agricultural University of Nanjing.

Agricultural Archaeology农业考古, quarterly, since 1987, ed.by Jiangxi Academy of social Science.

Natural Exploration大自然探索, quarterly, since 1982, ed.by Sichuan Academy of Social Science.

Root Exploration寻根, bimonthly, since 1994, ed. by Great Elephant Press.

2.3  Meetings

Since 1982, a series of meetings with the title of International Conference on the History of Science in ChinaICHSChave been organized. The 1st one was held in Belgium, and the organizer was Professor Urik Libbrecht of Leaven University. The 2nd was hold in Hong Kong in 1983, following by the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th took place, in succession, Beijing (1984), Sydney (1986), San Diego (USA, 1988) and Cambridge (UK, 1990). During the 1980s, this serious of meetings offered a unique occasion for Chinese Scholars, not only to meet their foreign colleagues from all over the world, but also to discuss matters of major significance in the field of the history of science in China .

During the 6th ICHSC held in Cambridge, UK, in 1990, a new Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine was set up, which was subsequently accepted as new commission of the IUHSP/DHS on 25 July 1997 during the 20th ICHS held in Liege. One of the Society’s duties is to organize the meetings of this series every three years, and decide for the next conference’s venue. Thereafter the 7th, 8th, and 9th conference were held in Kyoto (1993), Seoul (1996), and Singapore1999successively, but the title was changed the International Conference on the History of Science in East AsianICHSEA. Meanwhile, the ICHSC are still underway, the latest 2 were held in Shenzhen (1994) and Berlin (1998) successively.

International Conference on the History of Science in China and East Asia

        1st ICHSC     1982    Leuven

        2nd ICHSC     1983    Hong Kong

        3rd ICHSC     1984    Beijing

        4th ICHSC     1986     Sydney

        5th ICHSC     1988     San Diego

        6th ICHSC     1990     Cambridge

7th ICHSC  1994  Shenzhen          7th ICHSEA  1993  Kyoto

8th ICHSC  1998  Berlin              8th ICHSEA  1996  Seoul

9th ICHSC  2000  Taiyuan            9th ICHSEA  1999  Singapore

There were many other international meetings about the history of science organized by Chinese scholars.

International Colloquium on History of Science and Technology, 1990, Beijing.

1st International Conference on History of Chinese Medicine, 1992, Beijing.

International Symposium on the Exchange of Astronomy between China and Other Countries, 1993, Beijing.

International Symposium on Chinese Local History of Science and Technology, 1993, Huangshan City.

3rd International Conference on the Beginning of the Use of Metals and Alloys, 1994, Beijing.

2nd International Conference on Oriental Astronomy, 1995, Yingtan.

3rd International Symposium on the History of Mathematics and Mathematical Education Using Chinese Characters, 1996, Huhhot.

3rd International Conference on the History of Science and Technology of National Minorities in China, 1996, Kunming.

1st International Colloquium on Study in Ancient Chinese Books and Records of Science and Technology, 1996, Zibo.

International Colloquium: Transmission and Transformation on Mathematical Thought, 1998, Wuhan.

2.4  Some Important Works

It is impossible to give a overall report on the major results in the field of the history of science that the scholars of the PRC have achieved. Instead, a general survey of some representative works which have been highly appraised by international academic circles during the recent decades will be given.

First of all, it should be mentioned the research on the Chinese records about “guest stars”, most of which are novae or supernovae. This research has implications for our understanding of cosmology and makes urgently necessary the sorting out of the information contained in ancient and medieval Chinese text, from the inscriptions on oracle-bones dating about 1300BC to the official books of the histories of various dynasties. This is why Xi Zezong’s two articles were very popular by the currently practical astronomers, especially by those working in the field of radio-astronomy. Moreover, his study set up an example for how the wealth of historical records can be implied in the modern scientific studies in some cases.

Zhu Kezhen’s study on the long-period climatic changes in China is another example. By investigating historical materials in Chinese literature, he analyzed the climatic changes in China over the last 5000 years, as well as the influence of these changes on different natural and social aspects, such as vegetation, ecosphere, and agriculture in China. He is also said to be the Chinese founder of phenology, or bio-meteorology, a study on the relation between life and climatic changes.

Pan Jixing潘吉星 is an excellent expert in the history of chemistry and relevant technology. His studies on papermaking, gun-powder, rockets, and printing technologies are models of combining text study with archaeological discoveries, as well as imitative experiments.

The historical studies on science and technology have been stimulated by the rapid progress in archaeology in the PRC. One of amazing discoveries is a set of 65 bells cast about 2400 years ago, which was excavated from a tomb in the Suixian in 1978. The studies on this set of bells brought us new understanding of ancient Chinese metallurgy, cast, acoustic, as well as music and paleography. Hua Jueming 华觉明has provided an extensive discussion on the research in replicating the bells and the investigation of the acoustic function of various bell parts.

Led by Du Shiran杜石然, a group of historians of science compiled the 2 volumes­ A Draft of History of Chinese Science and Technology中国科学技术史稿, which has been used as a university textbook of history of science. Similarly, a book on science and technology in the 20th century, compiled by Li Peishan李佩珊and Xu Liangying许良英 is also popular in universities and colleges.

  The three volumes of The Collections of Ancient Chinese Maps中国古代地图 was a national research projects led by the late Prof. Cao Wanru曹婉茹 which was completed in 1996 and has been well received by the researchers.

Since 1992, a series of studies in ancient Chinese records about natural phenomena has been started the historical materials about earthquakes, meteor rain, sunspotscometsand natural disasters, as well as their influence on human society, have been sorted out and published.

There are also a number of Chinese scholars who study the history of science in foreign countries, and the historiography of the history of science.

The project for producing a multi-volumes of the History of Chinese Science and Technology 中国科学技术史is in underway. Expected to consist of 3 parts, total 30 volumes. By now 7 volumes have been published and the whole project will be finished in two years.

The chronological study on Dynasties of Xia, Shang, and Zhou (ca. 2000BC-841BC) is a national project. It is well-known that China has kept a completely unceasing record of history since 841BC. Nevertheless, the chronology of the first three dynasties have not been studied for the lack of continual written materials. This project aimed to solve the chronology problems. One of the measures that this project adopts is called astronomical dating. By examining the ancient records about different celestial phenomena which often relate to a certain date, Chinese historians of astronomy obtained some interesting results that the general historians could never find out. Along with the studies on the text-reading, unearthed the relics, and radiocarbon dating, the measure of astronomical dating played an important role in this project.

   Last but no less important, the Chinese historians of science also attach importance to international cooperation with their foreign colleagues. One successful example is the production of a series of Documentary film about China’s science and civilization, with the title of  Dragon’s Ascent龙腾. This series was filming by a British independent company, in collaboration with the IHNS and the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge, UK. 

3. Problems and Perspective

Being influence by the “Planned economy” model and the experience from the former Soviet Union, the studies on history of science in the PRC, since their initiation, have had a strongly utilitarian tendency, and sometimes, a Whggish character. As a matter of fact, the history of science is a kind of learning which requires more individual effort and free creativeness. 

Falling behind their western colleagues, the transition from the internal to external history of science and their synthesis remains largely a thing of the future. Likewise, the research oriented towards ideological and social history has not as yet received proper attention either. Indifference to theory and methodology also requires self-examination.

Compared with the studies in history of Chinese science and technology, the studies in the history of general science are quite weak. In particular, Chinese historians of science are not so familiar with the works that their colleagues around the world have done. And the serious studies of history of science about Western, Islamic, East and South Asian, as well as Latin America cultures are just in the initial stage in this county. In China, comparative studies on the history of western and non-western science are still relatively weak, so that at present it is often difficult to carry on high-level, comprehensive dialogues with our international colleagues.

On the other hand, this is all the more critical given the fact that Western historians of science often lack requisite understanding and sympathy for non-Western civilizations, a typical manifestation of which is prejudice against the works of Joseph Needham. This arises on the one hand from Cold War thinking discriminating against Needham's heterodox Marxist standpoint, and on the other hand from an inveterate Euro-centrism. As a matter of fact, the significance of Needham`s works long ago went beyond the limits of ideology as well as science and civilization in China, and has provided completely new subjects and view points for such major interests of concern among historians of science today as the exploration of different forms of science and civilization, and the search for ways to accomplish modernization.

Chinese scholars who study the history of science are faced with yet more formidable challenges. Succinctly put, the central task at present is to carry forward the reinstitutionalization of the history of science in China. Although the insitutionalization of the history of science in China, marked by the formation of the  Research Office for the History of China's Science and Technology in 1957, dates back more than 43 years, it is only during the most recent twenty years that specialized research and teaching devoted to the history of science has begun in institutions of higher education here. Furthermore, compared to Western countries, the study of the history of science in China is only just begun and has yet to accumulate a sufficient body of learning. In the field of the history of traditional Chinese science and technology, for example, some of our scholars still content themselves with remaining at the stage of the examination and discussion of raw historical data. 

History of science in the 21st Century may well be a new synthetic history of science. If George Sarton1884-1956 failed to accomplish his programme of new-humanism in advancing the history of science, the future realization of the integration of scientific culture and humanistic culture through the history of science may well be entirely possible in the new millennium. It has become increasingly evident that the process of the development of modern civilization to this day has largely been one of science penetrating deeper and deeper into society and radically influencing civilization, and at the same time also one of the separation of scientific culture from humanistic culture becoming more and more evident.

In view of all this, today's historians of science should take as their mission an overall understanding of the appearance and development of science in society, and the acceleration of the integration of scientific culture with humanistic culture. Correspondingly, the aim of the history of science should not just be to acquaint readers with the evolution of the sciences, but, in a more important sense, to provide a balanced understanding of culture and scientific knowledge adapted to the times.

However, the historian of science in the PRC also have some favorable conditions which their foreign colleagues can not compete with. In addition to the long tradition of historiography in this country, the current studies on the history of science have been supported by the government and many leading scholars. In pace with the progress in deepening the reform police, more and more young scholar have been sent abroad to study the history of science. Meanwhile, international cooperation and exchange have been paid great attention in the PRC. At present, Chinese scholars are planning to propose a proposal for hosting the 22nd ICHS, after our Mexican colleagues, which is expected to be held in 2005. No doubt the studies of the history of science in this country will continuously flourish in the new century.