China nar­rows R&D gap with West

Still has the po­ten­tial to fur­ther boost sci­ence, tech in­dus­try: ex­pert

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA - By Zhang Han

China’s re­search and de­vel­op­ment (R&D) in­vest­ment ra­tio hit a new high in 2017, which helped the coun­try nar­row its gap with the US and other de­vel­oped coun­tries.

The to­tal amount spent on R&D in China was 1.76 tril­lion yuan ($254.51 bil­lion) in 2017, up 12.3 per­cent yearon-year or 2.13 per­cent of 2017’s GDP, an an­nual in­crease of 0.02 per­cent­age points, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported on Tues­day.

China’s pace in R&D in­vest­ment sur­passed most coun­tries, and its in­ten­sity has reached the level of mod­er­ately de­vel­oped coun­tries, Zhang Peng, se­nior statis­ti­cian of the Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics’ De­part­ment of So­cial Sci­ences, was quoted by Xin­hua as say­ing.

China’s R&D growth rate leads the world at an av­er­age of 11.1 per­cent in the past five years, while the rates of the US, Eu­ro­pean Union and Ja­pan were 2.7 per­cent, 2.3 per­cent, and 0.6 per­cent re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to Zhang.

The gap with the US has been steadily shrink­ing since China ranked sec­ond on the R&D in­put list in 2013. It is es­ti­mated that China will spend 60 per­cent of the US’ level in 2018, Zhang said.

“The rapid in­crease shows China still has the po­ten­tial to fur­ther boost its sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, and the struc­ture of its R&D in­put is as im­por­tant as the in­vest­ment,” Wang Jun­jie, deputy di­rec­tor of Ti­bet’s Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy De­part­ment told the Global Times.

The Tues­day re­port said much of the R&D spend­ing went to man­u­fac­tur­ing, with com­put­ers, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and other elec­tronic de­vices re­ceiv­ing 200.28 bil­lion yuan.

Pro­duc­tion of trans­porta­tion equip­ment, in­clud­ing rail­ways, ves­sels, air­craft and space­craft ranked high­est at 2.53 per­cent in terms of in­put in­ten­sity, fol­lowed by drugs.

Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) coun­tries have been pro­mot­ing a green and in­tel­li­gent in­dus­try and their in­vest­ment in R&D is mov­ing to­ward big data, cir­cu­lar econ­omy, bio­med­i­cine, and aero­space, Sun said.

The gap in ba­sic re­search be­tween China and de­vel­oped coun­tries calls for China to op­ti­mize the in­vest­ment struc­ture, Zhang said, adding that China should form an en­ter­prise- and mar­ke­to­ri­ented R&D sys­tem un­der govern­ment su­per­vi­sion.

China is tar­get­ing an­nual per capita spend­ing on R&D to 500,000 yuan by 2020 from 370,000 yuan in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the 13th five-year plan for na­tional sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy tal­ent de­vel­op­ment (2016-2020).

China was ranked 17th on the na­tional in­no­va­tion in­dex re­port by the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy for De­vel­op­ment in 2017, ris­ing from 20th in 2012, said Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Wan Gang in Fe­bru­ary.

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