China is now referred to as a research superpower with numerous completed big science projects, an improving scholarly impact rating, a growing academic infrastructure, more scientists and engineers than any other single
country, a dynamic and aggressive space program, and a surging
share of the world’s research articles. China actually graduates
more new engineers annually than currently reside in the U.S.
While the U.S. and European R&D organizations struggle
with thinning research budgets to support their R&D infrastructures, China has no such qualms. China’s leadership firmly
believes that one of the shortest routes to global leadership is
through global leadership in technology and innovation. And
they have been working that belief tirelessly for more than 20
years with annual R&D increases that are always three or more
times those of the rest of the world, including the U.S. China’s
R&D investments have now surpassed the total R&D investments of the European Union including the U.K. And Chinese
R&D is now expected to surpass the total R&D spending of the
U.S. by mid-2026 or sooner, as seen in the Chart.
At that point and with current trends, China will rightly be
Countries Gaining the Most in R&D
referred to as “THE” research superpower. According to a
recent reader survey by R&D Magazine, two-thirds of the
survey respondents stated that China is the one country that is
currently gaining the most in R&D. That is significantly better
than the 43% of the survey respondents who stated that the U.S.
is gaining the most in R&D. Germany ranks third in those
responses (35%), followed by India (32%) and Japan (30%).
China moved on the path to becoming a life science
research superpower when its’ BGI company purchased 128
state-of-the-art gene sequencers in 2011 to garner half of the
world’s capacity at that time for decoding DNA in one fell
swoop. With hits and misses, sequencing firms then sprang
up throughout China and now the country is estimated to
have about 30% of the world’s total sequencing capacity.
“Sequencing capacity is rising everywhere, but it’s rising
faster in China than anywhere else,” says a BGI executive. The
Chinese government is integrally involved in this development.
Its China National Genebank in Shenzhen houses millions of
gene samples from people, animals, plants and microbes—and
the Genebank is now operated by BGI.
In the physics arena, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
looked at the existing basic research tools around the world and
decided to build many of their own, only bigger and better. One
of these is the 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope in
China Plans to be Global R&D Leader
U.S. Canada U.K. Germany France China Japan India S.Korea Russia
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2017