China’s booming economy has allowed it to increase spending on research and basic science, but it still has a way to go to catch up with the United States and other developed countries, top science officials said.
Three decades of economic reform means China can turn its attention to advanced science and expensive research, considered a luxury in the days when the country worried about simply feeding and clothing 1.3 billion people.
“When the economy was not developed enough, there were limits to what we could do. As the economy strengthens, our scope widens,” [said Zhang Xian’en, director of the bureau of basic research at the Ministry of Science and Technology].
China’s spending on research and development hit a record high of 300 billion yuan ($43 billion) last year, Zhang said. About one third came from the government and the remainder from corporations.