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Published 19 October 2023

New Zealand-China Scientist Exchange Programme resumes

This week we hosted the 2023 New Zealand-China Scientist Exchange Programme Orientation Day in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington. 

The exchange programme supports the development of research linkages with New Zealand enabling Chinese researchers to visit New Zealand research organisations. 

Ten researchers will be hosted around the motu for 6 weeks at various universities and Crown Research Institutes. As H.E. Wang from the Chinese Embassy in Wellington said, it is excellent to be able re-start the exchange programme again and for researchers to be able to meet face-to-face after a three-year hiatus.

In addition to the researchers, members of China Science & Technology Exchange Center (CSTEC), Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) also joined for the orientation day.

The programme is funded by Catalyst: Leaders, administered by Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Welcoming mihi whakatua

At the welcoming mihi whakatau for the orientation day, Dr Loveday Kempthorne said a few words on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment:

"China is one of New Zealand’s most important science and innovation partners and it is remarkable to think formal collaboration between our two countries only really began around forty years ago.

"Since that time, scientific collaborations between New Zealand and China have grown significantly, and China continues to be our fastest growing science partner. Shortly after our two countries signed the bilateral science treaty in 1987, the annual number of joint scientific publications between New Zealand and China was less than ten; today we jointly produce almost 3000 publications per year."

"Today New Zealand and Chinese researchers work together across almost all disciplines, but collaboration is especially strong in the government-agreed bilateral priority areas of food science, environment science, and health and biomedical sciences. These collaborations have yielded significant and tangible benefits for both of our nations. For example, the MBIE funded China-Maurice Wilkins Centre Collaborative Research Programme has in recent years supported New Zealand researchers in the biomedical sciences to work closely with Chinese partners to produce ground-breaking scientific results and innovative cancer therapies - some of which are now entering clinical trials."

"New Zealand and Chinese scientists are also working together to address some of the most pressing global challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, environmental sustainability, and biodiversity. As just one example, a joint New Zealand - China research expedition to the Kermadec Trench last year revealed fascinating new insights into life in the deepest reaches of New Zealand waters, including observing species which may be new to science. On this voyage a New Zealand scientist and a submersible pilot from China accomplished the historic feat of becoming the first women to descend to the deepest known point of the Kermadec Trench, located 10km below sea level."

"Today’s orientation event is particularly significant as it marks the beginning of the first New Zealand-China scientist exchange to occur in almost four years. The clear importance of this programme to both New Zealand and China is underscored by the fact that it has resumed - with great uptake from scientists - less than one year after our two countries fully reopened our international borders in the wake of the global pandemic..."

Benefits of international collaboration

According to data from SciVal, China is now New Zealand's fourth-largest research partner in terms of co-authoring scholarly publications, following Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Since 2020, authors from China and New Zealand have co-authored 7,658 papers, involving 4,826 authors from New Zealand and 17,402 authors from China. These collaborative papers achieved a Field-Weighted Citation Impact 1 of 2.62, significantly higher than that for either New Zealand (1.47) or China (1.11) papers, respectively. The two countries share multiple areas of interest in disciplines such as Engineering, Agricultural and Biological Sciences, Medicine, Computer Science, and Environmental Science.

International collaboration yields a multitude of benefits. It enables researchers to access resources beyond their own institutions, encompassing funding, talent, and equipment. Moreover, it facilitates the sharing of knowledge and the integration of diverse perspectives to solve increasingly complex, cross-disciplinary problems. This collaborative approach maximises research outputs, leading to a stronger impact and ultimately enhancing research outcomes.

1. Note on Field-Weighted Citation Impact: An FWCI of 1 means that the output performs just as expected against the global average. More than 1 means that the output is more cited than expected according to the global average; for example, 2.62 means 162% more cited than expected.


Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi