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In 2012 Chinas total spending on research and development was one trillion Yuan ($164 billion),
just under 2% of its gross domestic product. The same year, the U.S. spent $447 billion, or 2.8%
of its GDP. But as Chinas economy continues to grow rapidly, so does its R&D spending and
its projected to overtake that of the United States by 2022. Scientific advances contributed 51.7%
to Chinas economic growth in 2011, and the country is betting that technical innovations can
help it address many challenges, including the need to upgrade its industrial base, reduce air
pollution and address growing inequality.


High Voltage Transmission: China has deployed the world's first Ultra High Voltage AC
and DC lines -- including one capable of delivering 6.4 gigawatts to Shanghai from a
hydroelectric plant nearly 1300 miles away in southwestern China. These lines are more
efficient and carry much more power over longer distances than those in the United

High-Speed Rail: In the span of six years, China has gone from importing this
technology to exporting it, with the world's fastest train and the world's largest high-speed
rail network, which will become larger than the rest of the world combined by the end of
the decade. Some short distance plane routes have already been cancelled, and train travel
from Beijing to Shanghai (roughly equivalent to New York to Chicago) has been cut from
11 hours to 4 hours.

Advanced Coal Technologies: China is rapidly deploying supercritical and ultrasupercritical coal combustion plants, which have fewer emissions and are more efficient
than conventional coal plants because they burn coal at much higher temperatures and
pressures. Last month, Secretary Chu toured an ultra-supercritical plant in Shanghai
which claims to be 45 to 48 percent efficient. The most efficient U.S. plants are about 40
percent efficient. China is also moving quickly to design and deploy technologies for
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants as well as Carbon Capture and
Storage (CCS).

Nuclear Power: China has more than 30 nuclear power plants under construction, more
than any other country in the world, and is actively researching fourth generation nuclear
power technologies.

Alternative Energy Vehicles: China has developed a draft plan to invest $17 billion in
central government funds in fuel economy, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric and fuel cell
vehicles, with the goal of producing 5 million new energy vehicles and 15 million fuelefficient conventional vehicles by 2020.

Renewable Energy: China is installing wind power at a faster rate than any nation in the
world, and manufactures 40 percent of the world's solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It is
home to three of the world's top ten wind turbine manufacturers and five of the top ten
silicon-based PV manufacturers in the world.

Supercomputing: Last month, the Tianhe-1A, developed by China's National University

of Defense Technology, became the world's fastest supercomputer with a performance
level of 2.57 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second, for all the geeks in our
audience, based on a standard test), substantially eclipsing the U.S. DOE's Cray XT5
"Jaguar" system at Oak Ridge national labs in Tennessee, which runs at 1.75 petaflop/s.
Third place is also held by a Chinese computer. While the United States -- and the
Department of Energy in particular -- still has unrivalled expertise in the useful
application of high performance computers to advance scientific research and develop
technologies, America must continue to improve the speed and capacity of our advanced

Revolutionary Electric Vehicle Batteries -- 500 Miles on a Single Charge: With the
help of Recovery Act funding, Arizona-based Fluidic Energy is working with Arizona
State University to develop a new generation of "metal-air" batteries that can store many
times more energy than standard lithium-ion batteries. Metal-air batteries contain high
energy metals and literally breathe oxygen from the air, giving them the ability to store
extreme amounts of energy. To date, the development of these batteries has been blocked
by the limitations of using unstable water based solutions that break down and evaporate
out of the battery as it breathes. Fluidic Energy's innovative approach involves ionic
liquids -- extremely stable salts in liquid form -- using no water at all. If successful, the
effort could yield batteries that weigh less, cost less, and are capable of carrying a four
passenger electric car 500 miles without recharging, at a cost competitive with internal
combustion engines. A fact sheet on the project, which is part of DOE's Advanced
Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Converting Sunlight into Usable Fuel: Through a newly established Energy Innovation
Hub led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), an interdisciplinary team of
scientists and engineers are working to create an integrated system modelled after
photosynthesis that can convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into usable fuels such
as gasoline. The goal is to create a system of artificial photosynthesis that is 10 times
more efficient than traditional photosynthesis in converting sunlight into fuel -- paving the
way for a major expansion of America's bio fuel industry and reducing our dependence on

While several Chinese-born scientists working in the West have won Nobel Prizes, none have
won for research conducted in mainland China. And the dominant role that Chinas government
plays in R&D spending has downsides as well: To obtain major grants in China, it is an open
secret that doing good research is not as important as schmoozing with powerful bureaucrats and
their favourite experts, two Chinese university deans wrote in a 2010 Science magazine
editorial. In July 2014, the countrys anti-corruption watchdog said it had uncovered fraud in
research grants managed by Chinas Ministry of Science and Technology and at prestigious
Fudan University. The journal Science exposed in 2013 an academic black market in China
involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and compromised editors dealing in the authorship
of academic papers included in Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index.

A 2014 study published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Chinas
Rise as a Major Contributor to Science and Technology, looks at the development of science and
technology in China since the 1980s. The researchers, based at the University of Michigan and
Peking University, compare China and the United States in science and engineering (S/E) labor
force size, S/E degrees, government policies and investments, and scientific output and impact.
The studys findings include:

Chinas R&D spending as a percentage of GDP increased from 0.7% in 1991 to 1.8% in
2010, still lower than the U.S. level of 2.8% but growing rapidly.
The percentage of engineers in the S/E labor force was higher in China than in the United
States. In 2010, China had 2.4 million engineers out of a S/E labor force of 3.2 million
(75%), while the United States had 1.4 million engineers out of a S/E labor force of 4.3
million (33%). Engineers in both countries earn approximately 25% more than scientists.
Relative to their professional counterparts, Chinese scientists are better paid than those in
the United States: Chinese scientists earn 25% more than social scientists, 13% more than
medical doctors and 5% more than lawyers. For the United States, the figures are 7% less,
50% less and 34% less, respectively.
China had 1.1 million bachelors degrees in S/E in 2010, more than quadruple the number
in the United States. (Note that Chinas population that year, 1.338 billion, was 4.33 times
that of the United States, 314 million.)
About 44% of college students in China majored in S/E, compared with 16% in the U.S.
In 1992 the number of S/E doctoral degrees awarded in China was 10% of the U.S. figure;
by 2010, Chinas number was 18% higher than that of the United States.
The number of Chinese graduate students attending the S/E programs in the United States
nearly tripled between 1987 and 2010, growing from 15,000 to 43,000. In 2007, 4,300
Chinese students received doctoral degrees in S/E from American universities, more than
students from any other foreign country.
From 1990 to 2011, Chinas total number of S/E papers increased from 6,104 to 122,672,
which was two-thirds of the 2011 U.S. figure, making China the second largest producer
of scientific papers.
The average citation count of a paper produced in China rose from 8.4 during 1990-1994
to 10.7 during 2000-2004. From 1990 to 2010, the proportion of the average number of
citations for Chinese papers compared to those from the U.S. rose from 26% to 55%.
However, the China-U.S. ratio fell slightly between 2010 and 2011.
From 2001 to 2011, the ratio of Chinese papers in the top 1% of highly cited articles
relative to the U.S. increased from 6% to 31%.
In 2011, the China-U.S. ratio of article production was 98% in physical sciences [for
every 100 U.S. papers, there are 98 papers in the physical sciences], 77% in engineering,
62% in mathematical sciences, and 34% in biological sciences. The ratio was 169% in
material science and 127% in chemistry in favor of China, while the United States led
China by large margins in immunology, molecular biology and genetics.
The public is paying more attention to scientific misconduct in China. The counts of
pages containing key words scientific fabrication, scholarly corruption and
plagiarism in China in 2011 were respectively 6.8 times, 2.9 times, and 1.3 times the
counts in 2005.

The researchers conclude that China has taken a major role in world science and technology after
three decades of fast growth in the field. Four factors favor Chinas continuing rise in science: a
large population and human capital base, a labor market favoring academic meritocracy, a large
diaspora of Chinese-origin scientists, and a centralized government willing to invest in science.

But the countrys development of science and technology is still facing severe challenges
including scientific corruption and fraud and the countrys rigid, top-down administrative
system. Further, the authors note, Even if the government succeeds in preventing misdeeds
among officials, it still faces difficulties valuating the true merits of scientific contributions.