In a reform to be announced soon to curb academic corruption and encourage research innovation, the government will step back from managing the State research fund and hand over that power to a third-party agency.
The reform is being led by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance.
A third-party agency supervised by the government, such as the National Natural Science Foundation, will take over the power.
"Researchers will no longer need to make frequent visits to the government to gain funding," said Zhang Xiaoyuan, the director of the Department of Facilities and Financial Support of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Professional institutes will decide which researchers gain funds, Zhang added.
At present, the government has the power to both distribute state research funds and supervise their use, which easily leads to corruption. In addition, more than one ministry may be involved and, due to the lack of a communication mechanism, some corrupt researchers use one project to apply for multiple funds from different sources, which leads to the abuse of government funds.
Academic corruption has occurred at China's universities and research institutes, where misuse of government funds is commonplace.
Li Ning, a renowned Chinese scientist in the field of genetic breeding and cloning, has been detained for embezzling and defrauding a research fund of 25 million yuan ($4.1 million).
The reform will set up a joint council and invite decision-makers from the government to discuss research fields to avoid inefficient use of funds.
The council will make all decisions, including selecting appropriate professional institutes, listing evaluation scholars and terminating frozen projects.
"The reform will free the government to focus on making regulations and macro-plans based on the State development strategy, as well as increase supervision to the professional institutes," said Zhao Lu with the Ministry of Finance.
The central government has increased investment in science and technology in the past two years.
Last year, the central government invested 236.5 billion yuan in science and technology, accounting for 11.55 percent of the total State investment for the year.
Zhao believes the reform will increase the efficiency of input and maximize the use of funding, which will be approved based on the characteristics of research in five categories, including the natural sciences, the main issues for state consideration, and national key research to benefit society.