China becomes world's second-largest R&D performer

Updated: 2016-02-25 11:23

(People's Daily Online)

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China becomes world's second-largest R&D performer

A researcher checks the conditions of rats used for laboratory tests at the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing. [Photos by Feng Yongbin/ China Daily and Liu Dawei/ Xinhua]

China is playing an increasingly prominent role in world's science and engineering as the country becomes the second-largest performer of research and development (R&D), according to the Science and Engineering Indicators 2016 (Indicators) report from the US National Science Foundation.

Indicators 2016 makes it clear that Global R&D spending shows an overall upward trend mainly in North America, Europe and East Asia and Southeast Asia, while the US science and engineering (S&E) enterprise continues to lead the world.

According to Indicators 2016, China is now the second-largest performer of R&D, accounting for 20 percent of global R&D spending as compared to the United States, which accounts for 27 percent.

Between 2003 and 2013, China increased its R&D investments at an average rate of 19.5 percent annually, greatly exceeding that of the US.

In 2014, China ranked second in high-tech manufacturing, where the US maintained a slim lead with a global share of 29 percent to China's 27 percent. China's commercial knowledge-intensive services grow rapidly, which has surpassed Japan to move into third place behind the United States and the European Union.

China has also made significant strides in S&E education, which is critical to supporting R&D as well as knowledge and technology-intensive industries. China is the world's number one producer of undergraduates with degrees in science and engineering. These fields account for 49 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded in China, compared to 33 percent of all bachelor's degrees the US awards.

University degree production in China has grown faster than in major developed nations and regions, rising more than 300 percent between 2000 and 2012. The number of S&E graduate degrees awarded in China is also increasing. However, the US continues to award the largest number of S&E doctorates and remains the destination of choice for internationally mobile students.