US Urged to Focus Less on Holding China Down

US Urged to Focus Less on Holding China Down

US Urged to Focus Less on Holding China Down

US Urged to Focus Less on Holding China Down

The cover page of the British-based The Economist on June 13 featured the headline, “The Rise of Chinese Science – Welcome or Worrying?”

The article suggests that if America wants to maintain its lead, it should focus less on holding China down.

This contrasts with Washington’s current strategy, which uses export controls and sanctions to prevent China from advancing technologically.

US Urged to Focus Less on Holding China Down

The cover page and main article from The Economist June 13th 2024

The main article argues that America’s strategy is unlikely to work. I share this belief, so I write my newsletter to highlight China’s significant scientific progress.

The reality is that China has become a scientific superpower. As the graph below shows, China is leading America in the share of global high-impact papers and the total number of contributions to prestigious journals.

It is evident that while China was almost invisible in the scientific community 20 years ago, it now leads America and Europe in many fields. Despite this very late start, China will have produced twice as many Ph.D. graduates in science and technology by next year as America.

US Urged to Focus Less on Holding China Down

It is fascinating to observe how China is clearly ahead in hard engineering sciences compared to human engineering fields like biomedical engineering, where the US and EU still have a lead. The primary reason is that hard engineering contributes significantly to national development and has military implications. Still a priority for China.

Given China’s advancements in space exploration—returning samples from the moon, maintaining a space station in orbit, and deploying a rover on Mars—it was surprising for me to see China lag in the production of space science papers.

The current five-year national plan (2021-2025) aims to boost research in quantum technologies, AI, semiconductors, neuroscience, genetics and biotechnology, regenerative medicine, and exploration of “frontier areas” like deep space, deep oceans, and Earth’s poles. When we revisit this graph, the gap might be smaller by 2030.

Although China now matches the R&D budget of America, it spends more on applied science than basic science. The global science race seems to be between curiosity and context. China excels in industry-driven science research, while American and European institutions focus more on exploratory research, often without specific goals. The question is whether it is easier for the Chinese to become more curious or for Westerners to become more pragmatic. I am undecided yet. In any case, it is clear that China will enhance its path of exploration with a budget increase of 13% for basic science in 2024.

Chinese Innovation News in June

  1. China collects and shares two kilograms of samples from the moon’s far side;
  2. EU plans to put tariffs up to 38% on Chinese electric vehicles;
  3. China develops first neural probe to record activity in monkey brain;
  4. Chinese scientists created a robot with a brain made from human stem cells;
  5. Chinese researchers develop injectable biodegradable gel-based sensors;
  6. Chinese scientists design bio-inspired 3D e-skin, and e-skin for polar research;
  7. New Chinese storage chip material has a near-infinite lifespan;
  8. China Generative AI updates June 2024.

Pascal CoppensThis blog is a small extract from my monthly newsletter. You can read the full newsletter on Linkedin.

For those wanting to stay ahead on China news in business, technology, innovation and new trends every month, subscribe to Pascal Coppens’ monthly newsletter, ‘This Month in China,” to get it mailed to your inbox.



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