(CBC) China is fast becoming a scientific force to be reckoned with, says a new report published by Nature.
The list, which ranks the world’s institutions and countries according to their scientific output, puts China second only to the United States. The rankings are based on the number of high profile publications released last year.
Canada ranked 7th, which, considering the difference in the sheer number of scientists compared with China or the U.S., is pretty impressive.
The top institution in terms of publications was the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a massive engine of scientific growth in the country. It consists of hundreds of regional institutes and includes two universities. To put it in perspective for something us Westerners understand — it beat out Harvard.
The University of Toronto ranked the highest in Canada at 18th.
What is China investing in?
The Chinese government has indicated it wants to invest energy and funds in brain research, gene science, big data and medical robots.
But perhaps the most ambitious scientific project is the Chinese space program. The largest radio telescope in the world was recently built in southwestern China, and took only five years to complete.
And from the biggest objects in the universe to the smallest, China plans to build a particle accelerator larger than the one currently in operation in Europe at the CERN facility.
How much money is the government spending?
China spends a whopping $40 billion per year on scientific research, more than any nation other than the U.S.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the country’s top economic official, said earlier this year that “innovation is the primary driving force for development and must occupy a central place in China’s development strategy.”
What kind of reaction has there been to China’s scientific ascension?
Given the rapid pace of scientific growth in China, there are concerns that regulations will need time to catch up.
The research led to a moratorium by various scientific bodies around the world, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on using the technique until proper regulations and scientific agreement was in place.
There’s also the geopolitics of international space programs to consider. NASA will not work with the Chinese Space Agency because they worry about sharing technology of satellites, programs, strategies that could breach U.S. national security.
As well, academic fraud is at an all-time high in China. According to Nature, the vast majority of retractions due to academic fraud come from Chinese universities.
There’s no doubt China is leading the way in terms of investing in science and pushing their vision for an innovation-backed economic future. But the rapid pace of their scientific growth comes with costs and issues that could reverberate around the globe.
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