Project 211 (Chinese: 211工程; pinyin: 211 gōngchéng) is a project of National Key Universities and colleges initiated in 1995 by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, with the intent of raising the research standards of high-level universities and cultivating strategies for socio-economic development. During the first phase of the project, from 1996 to 2000, approximately US$2.2 billion was distributed.
China today has more than 1,700 standard institutions of higher education, with about 6 percent of them being 211 Project institutions (having met certain scientific, technical, and human resources standards and offer advanced degree programs). 211 Project schools take on the responsibility of training four-fifths of doctoral students, two-thirds of graduate students, half of students from abroad and one-third of undergraduates. They offer 85% of the state's key subjects, hold 96 percent of the state's key laboratories, and utilize 70% of scientific research funding.
The name for the project comes from an abbreviation of the 21st century and 100 (approximately participating universities).
Infrastructure spending spree, price reforms urged
The mainland should roll out a 'New Deal'-style programme of infrastructure spending in response to the global financial crisis, but domestic economic pain is likely to be compounded by the pricing policy missteps of recent years, a panel of experts said yesterday.
'For China, this is a chance to do what it could not do in the past, when massive infrastructure spending was needed but it was unable to [carry this out] because of rising oil and materials prices,' said Xiao Geng, the director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy in Beijing.
'All policy [responses] put on the table to date are negligible and amount to less than 1 per cent of [gross domestic product] ... This is really the time for China to think about the kind of package the US put together during the New Deal,' Mr Xiao said yesterday at a conference organised by the South China Morning Post and the faculty of business and economics at the University of Hong Kong.
While panellists agreed that infrastructure spending would likely help prop up the mainland economy, views differed over the quality of growth that would result and the depth of the impact that would come from the global credit crisis.
A number of 'policy missteps' in recent years were likely to compound the effects of the slowdown, Citi Asia-Pacific managing director and head of China country research Xue Lan said.
'China overgrew its potential in the last few years,' Ms Xue said, citing mis-pricing of energy and utilities by state economic planners.
Chew Ping, Standard & Poor's managing director and head of Greater China, said pricing reform was also a key imperative for the development of the mainland's financial industry.
'Prices still have some way to go to reflect true costs,' he said. 'Can banks charge correctly on loans? They must charge according to policy but does this accurately price in risk?'
Mr Xiao agreed that 'prices for capital were not adequately set' and said this was to blame for the mainland's stock and property market bubbles that were now in the process of deflating.