China Leads the World in R&D, Warns Australian Think-Tank

A new report was issued last week by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a rabid anti-China think tank that tracks the leading countries in various fields of high-technology considered critical for future economic growth and military power. Of the 44 areas of research studied, the ASPI found that China takes the lead in 37, including space research, energy R&D, robotics, advanced materials and quantum technology. In the seven others, the United States is number one.

The report notes that “Western democracies are losing the global technological competition, including the race for scientific and research breakthroughs, and the ability to retain global talent –crucial ingredients that underpin the development and control of the world’s most important technologies, including those that don’t yet exist”.

Rhetoric is now rampant in both the United States and Europe about “decoupling” the respective economies from China and imposing more sanctions and restrictive measures in an attempt to thwart competition. Although it would make much more sense to simply adopt an economic policy based on real growth, instead of speculative financial bubbles and round after round of quantitative easing, that option is not being discussed in Washington and Brussels.

China, in any case, is not about to change the policy that has led to its “stunning lead” in the ASPI’s “Critical Technology Tracker”. At the National People’s Congress that began on March 5, outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presented the Government Work Report, which foresees a 5% economic growth rate in 2023, with a 3% rise in the Consumer Price Index, and the creation of around 12 million new urban jobs.

Much attention will be given at the NPC to the increase in military spending, which the new budget has set at 7.2% due, according to the government, to increased security threats. But even more significant is the emphasis put on science and technology this year. Premier Li underlined all the major breakthroughs China has made in the last few years in science, in manned space flight, in deep-sea and deep-earth probes, supercomputers, quantum communication, and AI. Scientific and technological progress, he said, had contributed more than 60% to China’s economic growth.

Overall, given the attempt by the West to shut down China’s industrial chain of production, a priority will be given to building self-reliance in technology and science. The R&D budget will be increased by 2% this year, in addition to the increments provided by the local governments, various institutions as well as private and state companies.

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