China has overtaken Japan to become the second biggest spender on research
and development behind the US, a report from the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development revealed.
The country is expected to invest $136bn in research and development this
year after growing by more than 20 per cent in the past year, ahead of the the
$130bn from Japan but still well behind the $330bn the US will invest, the OECD
The report is the latest indication of the dramatic rise in research spending
Dirk Pilat, head of the OECD's science and technology division, said the
surge in Chinese research was "stunning". He added: "Chinese investment has been
growing rapidly for some time, but it is still a surprise that it has overtaken
Japan so quickly."
Mr Pilat said that the bulk of the spending in China was on development work,
to alter products for the fast-growing Chinese market, rather than basic
The number of patents coming from China that were registered with the patent
office in the US, Europe and Japan is still low and a string of recent scandals
over academic fraud have also raised questions about how well the money is
But Mr Pilat added that some multinationals were beginning to move genuine
research to China because of the high numbers of skilled scientists they could
recruit in Shanghai or Beijing. "There are some signs that they are starting to
do fundamental or breakthrough work in China," he said.
As well as increasing spending on university science departments, the
government has also been eager to attract multinational companies to open
research centres in the country.