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).
Aviation think tank ready to provide new direction
The mainland's top aviation experts have formed a think tank to offer guidance to government and industry players who seem to have lost their bearings in recent years over the development of home-grown passenger jets.
The Research Academy of Aviation Engineering, Technology, Development and Strategy was jointly launched on Sunday by the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Beihang University in Beijing, with its headquarters next to the National Laboratory for Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Professor Huai Jinpeng, Beihang's president and a member of the think tank, said on the university's website that it would seek to emulate the role of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, a US federal agency that shaped the American aviation industry during the second world war and later became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).
A few years ago, mainland leaders vowed to break the global dominance of Western manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus in aviation, and the central government has poured tens of billions of yuan into 'national key projects' since then with the aim of seeing Chinese jumbo jets in the sky before 2015.
However, the arrival of the Airbus A380 Superjumbo and Boeing 787 Dreamliner raised doubts about the Chinese industry's ability to compete, its technological reliability and its development road map.
Industry and Information Technology Minister Miao Wei said the government would ask the think tank to draw up a blueprint for the mainland's aviation industry for the next two decades.
'Aviation is China's strategic hi-tech industry and represents the power of our country,' he said on Beihang's website. 'To make the whole industry globally competitive we must ... do some research and analysis about development over the next 20 years or even longer.
'The academy must lead the Chinese aviation industry onto the world stage as soon as possible.'
Zhang Yanzhong, science and technology director at the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, said the think-tank should unite top scientists from China's best flight academies, including Beihang, Northwestern Polytechnic University and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, with the best engineers to give the government the most authoritative and reliable advice on sensitive issues regarding the future of planes in both the civilian and military sectors.
The People's Liberation Army Air Force recently experimented with turning low-altitude air space over to civilian control. China's general aviation industry could rival the US in terms of market size if military air space restrictions are lifted.
Professor He Jingwu, a plane design expert at Beihang, said many state-owned and private companies had available, safe and affordable planes for domestic routes but they would need technological guidance and a channel to communicate with the government.
'Many companies are confused about the future. They don't know what kind of plane will fit the Chinese market and whether the government will allow it in the sky,' he said. 'The academy will think of them, speak for them and help them take off.'