Is China a world leader in science?

Netherlands Innovation Network ChinaUncategorized Leave a Comment

NESTA tries to answer that question in a report on risks and opportunities for China-UK research and innovation collaboration. The report is thought-provoking as can already be seen from its title: ‘China’s Absorptive State’.

Some indicators that China is on route to becoming a world leader in science:

  • China has the world’s fastest supercomputer. Yes, chips are made by Intel, but Chinese experts made them work together.
  • Chinese scientists developed the world lightest material ever.
  • In 14 years China went from having 1% of world’s gene sequencing capability to almost having 50%.
  • National spending on R&D keeps on rising (18% from last year).
  • Patent filings are growing even at higher rates.
  • By 2020 China will produce more graduates than US and EU combined.
  • In that year China will also publish more papers than the US.

However it is also possible to have a different view:

  • A recent study estimates that only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates meet international standard of employability.
  • China has been called a “fast follower”, swallowing others’ advances, quickly catching up but never leading.
  • China is driven by “techno-nationalism”, where China desires to secure a “absolute (technological) advantage”.


Source: NESTA
Report: China’ s Absorptive State

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