Top-level Chinese delegation meets senior UK figures in visit hosted by the IOP

13 July 2017

A high-level delegation from the Chinese Physical Society (CPS) came to the UK at the invitation of the IOP for a four-day visit on 4–7 July.

Top-level Chinese delegation meets senior UK figures in visit hosted by the IOP
Andrew Hendry

During the visit they toured some of the UK’s major scientific facilities, heard presentations from directors of facilities and research programmes and took part in discussions on UK–China collaboration.

The eight delegates from the CPS were joined by two senior staff of the Chinese Embassy, including the minister councillor for science and technology.

The IOP’s head of international, Tajinder Panesor, said: “The fact that the IOP was able to convene such a high-level delegation from the CPS, the Chinese Embassy and senior people in the physics community from the research councils, scientific facilities and university physics departments demonstrates the authority and standing of the IOP within the UK scientific community and internationally.

“The visit was an important step in maintaining and developing collaborations between the scientific communities in both the UK and China.”

The visitors from China included the president and vice-president of the CPS and members of its executive council, the associate secretary general of the CPS and senior members of China’s Institute of Modern Physics and Institute of Plasma Physics.

On their first day in the UK they were welcomed to the offices of IOP Publishing in Bristol, where senior staff described the scope of its global business and developments in scientific publishing, including open access.

The delegation heard presentations outlining the history of the IOP’s collaboration with the CPS, from the opening of the IOP’s office in Beijing in 2000, through to its partnerships in journals publishing, its Physics World special reports on China, and Physics World’s collaboration with the Chinese publication Wuli.

On the following day the delegation was welcomed to the IOP’s London office, where there was a day-long programme of talks and discussions linked to future collaboration.

Top-level Chinese delegation meets senior UK figures in visit hosted by the IOP
Andrew Hendry

At the meeting in London there was a welcome from the IOP’s chief executive, Professor Paul Hardaker, and introductions from its president-elect, Professor Dame Julia Higgins (pictured left) and from the president of the CPS, Professor Wenlong Zhan, who later spoke about scientific facilities in China and specifically nuclear physics, nuclear energy and radiation materials.

The day included talks on scientific facilities in the UK and China and talks by UK and Chinese scientists, followed by discussions and opportunities for networking.

From the UK, Dr Andrew Taylor, director of National Laboratories for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) spoke about some of the existing collaborations with scientists in China. These include China’s involvement in the Square Kilometre Array and the support given by the ISIS neutron source facility and other partners in developing the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS).

Top-level Chinese delegation meets senior UK figures in visit hosted by the IOP
Andrew Hendry

There were also presentations by Professor Susan Smith (pictured left), head of the Daresbury Laboratory, Mrs Alison Kennedy, director of the STFC’s Hartree Centre, Professor Richard Walker, technical director of the Diamond Light Source and Dr Andrew Wright, head of capital infrastructure at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Top-level Chinese delegation meets senior UK figures in visit hosted by the IOP
Andrew Hendry

Professor Martin Freer (pictured left), head of the physics department at the University of Birmingham, spoke about nuclear physics research and the UK’s influence on it and Professor Ken Long, Professor of Experimental Particle Physics at Imperial College London, described the breadth of particle physics research in the UK.

Professor Hesheng Chen (pictured above), a vice-president of the CPS, spoke on particle physics in China, with research being conducted at the Institute of High Energy Physics (where he is the director), through university groups and at the CSNS.

He also outlined future plans, including construction of the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory, due to start at the end of 2017.

Top-level Chinese delegation meets senior UK figures in visit hosted by the IOP
Andrew Hendry

There was also a presentation on neutron physics in the UK by Professor Jian Lu  (pictured) of the Biological Physics Laboratory, University of Manchester. Lu also outlined some of the facilities for neutron physics in China. The China Advanced Research Reactor in Beijing has neutron scattering and radiography research programmes that are open to users in China and abroad, he said.

On the following day, delegates from the CPS were taken to Oxfordshire for a tour of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and facilities at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory including the ISIS neutron source, the Central Laser Facility and the Diamond Light Source.

Their final morning was spent at the University of Oxford where they visited the accelerator science department, Oxford Physics Microstructure Detector Laboratory, quantum computing facilities, photovoltaics department and condensed matter and neutron scattering research facilities.

Speaking after the visit, Panesor said: “We are now planning to arrange a cross-organisational meeting to determine how the IOP can engage with relevant stakeholders in support of the fifth UK–China high level People to People Ministerial Dialogue, which is provisionally scheduled for 4–7 December 2017. The Dialogue covers our bilateral relationships in several areas including science, and provides an opportunity for us to further profile UK–China physics research collaborations.

“We also want to put in place a more substantive working agreement between the IOP and the CPS to support information exchange between UK facility users and their counterparts in China and opportunities to network for members of both societies.

“We also plan to organise further bilateral exchanges with the CPS, and indeed with other national physical societies, to build on what we achieved last week and to provide additional opportunities for our members to unlock collaborative opportunities with their international counterparts.”

The IOP’s president-elect, Professor Higgins, commented: “Supporting our members to develop closer links with physicists in China is of paramount importance given the rapid advances that China is making in science and technology, not least in the construction and development of large-scale scientific facilities. By welcoming the CPS delegation to meet with our members and to visit national laboratories and physics research groups we hope to have played our part in strengthening relations, enabling closer collaboration between physicists in both countries.”