The 16th Annual Conference of Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (ASPAC2016)opens in Beijing

The 16th Annual Conference of Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (also referred to as ASPAC 2016) opened at China Science and Technology Museum (CSTM) on May 18th.
Prof. Han Qide, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and President of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), sent a Message of Congratulations to the conference, pointing out that science centres are important venues for all countries around the world whereby to enhance the public understanding of science and technology, to encourage mass creative invention, as well as to promote popular entrepreneurship and innovation;and they play an irreplaceable role in popularizing science and technology, disseminating science and culture, and improving the general public’s scientific literacy. He went on to emphasize that China takes the construction of science centres as a key national project for promoting the general public’s scientific literacy; and has included it into the National Plan for Science and Technology Development, as well as the construction of the modern public cultural service system. Over the past years and with CSTM as the mainstay, science centres and science museums in China have, through their practices and explorations, gradually built up a system of modern science and technology museums with Chinese characteristics whose purpose is to realize the inclusiveness of public education and the balanced coverage by science popularization infrastructure across the country, thus promoting the fairness and equity of popular science services. In the message, Prof. Han also gave expression to the hope that the convening of the conference will give further impetus to the overall development of science and technology museums in China; help strengthen the cooperation among international peers and forge partnerships between the science community on the one hand and the industries on the other; boost the service improvement and functional expansion of science centres, so as to enable them to provide better services for the innovation-driven development and for the enhancement of the scientific literacy of all citizens.    

Dr. Shang Yong, executive vice president and chief executive secretary of CAST attended the opening and delivered an opening address. In his address, Dr. Shang Yong, while expressing his warm congratulations on the opening of the conference and sincere welcome to all participants from home and abroad on behalf of CAST, also indicated that we will, with an more open and inclusive gesture, look forward to welcoming experts and academics from the international science centre community and entrepreneurs from the exhibition and education service industries to establish exchange and cooperative relations with China in order to give further impetus to the development of science centres in this part of the world, as well as to make concerted efforts to the fulfillment of the shared vision of the world science centre’s future.
Mme. Cheng Donghong, vice president of CAST and president of the Chinese Association of Natural Science Museums (CANSM); and Prof. Tit Meng Lim, ASPAC President and CEO of Science Centre Singapore, also spoke at the opening ceremony. Following which, Prof. Mark Hackling, emeritus professor at the Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research, Edith Cowan University in Western Australia; and Prof. Shi Yigong, vice president of Tsinghua University and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), delivered their keynote addresses to an audience of some 520.  
Featuring the theme of “Science Centres for All”, the 16th Annual Conference of ASPAC was honored to have invited Dr. Yoslan Nur, a UNESCO program specialist working in the Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building, Natural Sciences sector; Mme. Linda Conlon, board chair of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and chief executive of the UK-based International Centre for Life; Mr. Bruno Maquart, president of Universcience; and Prof. Li Xiangyi, honorary president of CANSM, to give their presentations as invited speakers during the 4-day conference. Centering on the conference theme, participants from as many as 29 countries and regions jointly explored the trends of development of science centres in the Asia Pacific region and beyond, as well as issues of their common concern; they also shared their respective experiences and best practices in the science center field.
Founded in 1997 and with a regional focus on the Asia Pacific region, the Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (ASPAC) currently has a total of 78 members covering 24 countries and regions, including science centres, science museums, children’s museums, exhibit design and fabrication firms etc. With the exception of special years, ASPAC convenes its annual conference every year which brings together leaders and colleagues of the science center and science museum field for joint discourse on the common development of the Asia Pacific science centre community.
China Science and Technology Museum is one of the initiators of ASPAC. In 1998, the just-established ASPAC convened its first annual conference in Beijing. The return to Beijing of the ASPAC Annual Conference after a period of 18 years is a clear indication of ASPAC’s great trust in China; it also bears testimony to the network’s full acknowledgement of the development of science and technology museums in China over the last two decades.
During the 16th Annual Conference of ASPAC, members of the International Program Committee (IPC) of the 2017 Science Centre World Summit (SCWS) also met at CSTM. As well, a capacity building training course was organized within the ASPAC 2016 framework targeting directors of science and technology museums across the Chinese mainland.
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