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BEIJING — Since there's little chance of making a better mousetrap, the government of China is putting its research dollars into improving another invention: the ballpoint pen.
China is set to launch a three-year project to develop its own technologies for making ballpoint pens, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.
The country's manufacturers currently rely heavily on foreign technology for their production.
With a fund of 60 million yuan ($9.1 million), the project will run from June 2011 to June 2014, a statement from the ministry said.
The project to make ballpoint pens a home-grown product will mostly focus on developing core production techniques, including producing inks, pen points and mechanisms to combine the two.
"Using advanced technologies to renovate and upgrade traditional industries is an important part of China building an innovative country," said Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang.
The project was initiated in response to calls in recent years for upgrades in the ability to make ballpoint pens.
Wan said that a proposal submitted during the recently concluded annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference "gave him quite a shake-up".
According to the proposal, China manufactures 38 billion ballpoint pens every year, but 90 percent of the pen points are imported from overseas and 80 percent of the ink is imported or produced by imported equipment. Manufacturers only earn 0.1 yuan from making a ballpoint pen.
"It doesn't mean we should not use overseas technologies," said Wan. "But Chinese companies must enhance their position in the world's industry chain to facilitate a more reasonable distribution of profits."