LONDON: China is on the way to becoming a scientific superpower, thanks to
the massive increase in its spending on research and the return of an increasing
number of its scientists from abroad, a leading British think tank has said.
The report by London-based Demos, The Atlas of Ideas: Mapping the New
Geography of Science, however, doesn't give a specific year when China would
achieve that status.
But according to China's plan, it will reshape itself as an innovative nation
by 2020, and could become a scientific superpower by 2050.
Nevertheless, the Demos report warns that China's long-term progress could be
hampered by its rigid institutional system.
The final report is based on a series of four reports after a 18-month study
led by Demos. The reports focus on the dramatic growth and pace of scientific
innovation in China, India and South Korea, with the fourth providing an
overview of the international situation and outlining how the UK should respond
"China's Taiwan and South Korea made themselves centres for innovation over
the past 20 years, and the Chinese mainland is catching up fast," the report's
co-author James Wilsdon said yesterday.
"In fact, in some growth areas, such as nanotechnology, it is moving even
faster than Europe," Wilsdon, head of the Demos innovation team, said.
One report forecast that the rise of China, India and South Korea would
reshape the global innovation landscape. "The centre of gravity of innovation
has started moving from the West to the East," the report says.
The think tank even warned that US and European pre-eminence in scientific
innovation could no longer be taken for granted.
Investment into and funding of science and innovation projects in China is
growing rapidly, and its impact on the international community is already
significant, the report says.
Since 1999, China's spending on research and development (R&D) has
increased by more than 20 per cent a year. It has replaced Japan to become the
world's highest spender on R&D after the US.
The rising number of multinational R&D centers, steady return of the
country's scientists from the US and Europe and the growing pool of graduates
will help China realize its goal, Wilsdon said.
"Beijing's university district alone has as many engineers as all of Western
Europe, and you can imagine how dynamic the potential is."
(China Daily 01/18/2007 page4)