China likely to leave US behind in research and development spending by end of 2018, says report

Washington: China is likely to surpass the US in research and development spending by the end of this year, a top American science body has said, underlining that Beijing has increased its spending in the sector at an average of 18 percent per year between 2000 and 2015.

Representational image of Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. AP

Representational image of Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. AP

China spends 5 percent of its total R&D funds on basic research and 85 percent on development, while the US spends 17 percent on basic research and 64 percent on development, the National Science Board said in its latest science and engineering indicators.

Noting that R&D spending is a driver of innovation, the report said in 2015, the US spent most on R&D, accounting for 26 percent ($496 billion) of the estimated 1.9 trillion global total. China was a decisive second at 21 percent at $409 billion.

"If current trends continue, the National Science Board expects China to pass the US in R&D expenditures by the end of 2018," the report said, according to which China has rapidly increased R&D spending over time – an average of 18 per year between 2000 and 2015, compared to four in the US.

The global output from high-technology manufacturing totalled at $1.6 trillion in 2016. The US at 31 percent and China at 24 percent were the largest providers of the global share.

China's output has risen sharply over time and now exceeds that of the European Union. "As of November 2017, China claims 202 of the fastest 500 supercomputers in the world. The US has 143 of the world's fastest supercomputers, the nation's lowest share over the past 25 years," it said.

According to National Science Board, a country's investment in science and engineering  education leads to a skilled, STEM capable workforce. Globally, bachelor's degrees in science and engineering fields totalled more than 7.5 million in 2014.

Almost half of these degrees were conferred in two Asian countries: India at 25 percent and China at 22 percent. The EU and US followed with 12 percent and 10 percent of the global share respectively.

"Between 2000 and 2014, the number of Science and Engineering bachelor's degrees awarded in China rose more than 360 percent to 1.7 million. The US had more moderate growth (54 percent) over the same period," the report said.

China, the report said, increased its production of peer-reviewed Science and Engineering articles by 8 percent annually between 2006 to 2016, compared to only one percent in the US.

In 2016, China surpassed the US in publications of Science and Engineering research papers, it said. In 2014, publications with US authors were almost twice as likely to be among the world's top 1 percent most-cited publications than would be expected based on the volume of US publications.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Jun 04, 2018 12:18:16 IST

Also See