China is expected to increase its total R&D spending by 7.1% in 2017 to $429.5 billion (in PPP dollars). While this is down slightly from the 7.6% R&D
growth seen from 2015 to 2016 due to the country’s slowing economy, the 2017 growth is basically twice the percentage change and twice the dollar amount of change as the
growth forecast for the U.S.’s 2017 R&D spending. China’s
R&D is mostly funded by the government with its economic
might to support their continuing R&D investments. For
more than 20 years now, there has been no let-up in China’s
desire to build its R&D infrastructure and science and engineering (S/E) capabilities, with a goal to surpass the U.S.
and other Western countries in all aspects of S/E.
Indeed, at its current rate of growth for R&D, China’s
total R&D is expected to surpass that of the U.S. by 2026.
China’s R&D has already surpassed that of all 34 countries
of Europe combined in 2016. Europe is struggling with a
weak economy and various political and Brexit turmoil
issues. Europe’s forecast R&D spending for 2026 is not
expected to meet the current (2016) R&D investments by
China’s research spending and research performance
eclipses that of all other countries, except that of the U.S.
(currently). Much of China’s R&D is managed and directed
by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Formed in
1928, the CAS has 124 direct-report institutions consisting
of 104 research institutes, five universities and supporting
organizations and 12 management organizations. There
also are 25 legal affiliations and 22 CAS-invested holding
enterprises. It has a staff of more than 60,000 and claims to
be the largest research organization in the world. Its R&D
covers a wide range of activities and programs, which are
included in China’s five-year plans (currently the Thirteenth, which runs from 2016 to 2020).
The CAS consistently publishes
about 3,000 scientific articles per year
in the 68 journals that comprise the
Nature Index. This output is more
than all other global research organizations. It also has a WFC (weighted
fractional count) of articles that is higher than many scientifically advanced
countries including Spain, Switzerland
and South Korea.
China has many scientific
• Space: Their large modular
manned space stations based on
Soviet-era Mir vehicles started with
the Tiangong 1, which was launched in 2011 and is
scheduled to reenter the atmosphere in 2017. Tiangong
2 was launched in September 2016 and Tiangong 3 is
scheduled to be launched in the 2020s with a planned
lifetime of 10 years. These three-man vehicles have
many of the same functions as those on the Mir and
ISS (International Space Station). In 2002, China became the third country following Russia and the U.S. to
launch humans into space orbit. China has also landed
spacecraft on the moon and collected and transmitted
data back to earth.
• Astronomy: The CAS completed the Five-hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in July 2016,
which is now the largest operating single aperture radio
telescope in the world—the similar Arecibo telescope
operated by the U.S. National Science Foundation in
Puerto Rico is 300-meters in diameter and has been
operating since 1963.
• Ocean Engineering: China has two arctic-class (ice
breaker) research vessels and two more under design.
The latest vessel was launched in 2016.
• Physics: Prominent physicists, including Stephen
Hawking, have suggested that China build the next generation large hadron collider (LHC), to build upon the
knowledge gained from CERN’s LHC device. Chinese
physicists are taking these suggestions seriously and are
considering appropriate sites near Shanghai.
• Research: China has built four research stations on
Antarctica and currently is surveying where they might
build a fifth research station.
China aims to build itself into an innovative country
by 2020, when scientific progress and accomplishments
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