China Second to US in research, set to pass in 2020
China has experienced the strongest growth in scientific research over the past three decades of any country, according to figures compiled for the Financial Times, and the pace shows no sign of slowing.
Jonathan Adams, research evaluation director at Thomson Reuters, said China’s “awe-inspiring” growth had put it in second place to the US – and if it continues on its trajectory it will be the largest producer of scientific knowledge by 2020.
Why is this?
According to James Wilsdon, science policy director at the Royal Society in London, three main factors are driving Chinese research. First is the government’s enormous investment, with funding increases far above the rate of inflation, at all levels of the system from schools to postgraduate research.
Second is the organised flow of knowledge from basic science to commercial applications. Third is the efficient and flexible way in which China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in north America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the west and part in China.
Oh. Because you get what you pay for and what you plan for. The US has been starving its scientists and forcing them to rely on private funding, and China has been investing in them, bigtime.
Because China understands leading in science helps you lead in technology and that helps your country be strong and prosperous.
Oh, and that real strength means not prioritizing military research.
The US understood all those things, once upon a time.
A while back I stumbled upon an ex-reader commenting that he quit reading FDL when I was talking about how China was going to eat the US’s lunch in the next couple generations.
He epitomized why the US is going down, because no one can tell Americans they aren’t the center of the universe and the best at everything. And since Americans think they are the best, it never occurs to them that they need to actually, really, fix anything.