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China Set To Surpass US In R&D Spending In 10 Years 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the deep-pockets dept.
dcblogs writes "China is on track to overtake the U.S. in spending on research and development in about 10 years, as federal R&D spending either declines or remains flat. The U.S. today maintains a large lead in spending over China, with federal and private sector investment expected to reach $424 billion next year, a 1.2% increase. By contrast, China's overall R&D spending is $220 billion next year, an increase of 11.6% over 2012, a rate similar to previous years. This finding is shared by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. 'China's investment as a percentage of its GDP shows continuing, deliberate growth that, if it continues, should surpass the roughly flat United States investment within a decade,' it said in a report last month."
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China Set To Surpass US In R&D Spending In 10 Years

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  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:13PM (#42384099) Homepage Journal

    America has become an anti intellectual society. Particularly when talking about STEM. All the pundits like to scream how we need to hire eleventy zillion teachers and then turn around and pout and scream that they're not all social workers focused on bullying, eating disorders and special needs. And if anyone so much as suggests that all the MFA's in Italian poetry pay more in tuition to offset the cost of the courses in engineering we're told we're all redneck knuckledragging philistines.

    Someday, soon, a bunch of Federal grant wielding puppeteers will put on a show in Esperato about how we used to have fire but the inventor died.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:31PM (#42384227)

      America has become an anti intellectual society

      That much is obvious even to the densest dim-wits since the appointment of a "Christian Scientist" as the head of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

      • At least we won't have to worry about those space aliens that are chained in the mountain, or on our bodies, or whatever those whackos believe.

      • by khallow (566160)
        The Christian Scientists have been kicking around since the 19th century and they're off shoots of even older anti-scientific religious groups which can be traced back to the Reformation in Europe.

        People should be asking "What changed?" since then. As I see it, a lot of society requires vast amounts of knowledge, some with a short shelf life. And humans haven't gotten a whole lot better at learning. So I think a big part of what's going on is that people are creating sub-societies with a lower knowledge
    • Using social science and liberal arts as your examples of anti-intellectualism shows that you are, yourself, an anti-intellectual. Have fun with that.

    • Particularly when talking about STEM

      The politicians like to talk about STEM and how we need more of it, but once again they ignore the basic economics. A STEM profession requires years of rigorous education and training and very often an advanced degree which means several more years at the minimum of post-graduate education. Most students who begin such a program don't complete it. Indeed, the graduation rate for undergraduate degrees in STEM is below 50% of students beginning the program and even then it often takes more than four years to

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:15PM (#42384111)
    Sadly, the USA is not focusing on science and engineering education, except for paying lip service to the concept of STEM courses in college. There are even proposals to tie tuition payments to the popularity of courses: charge more for engineering courses and less for liberal arts (which is the opposite of the right way to influence it if you're trying to coax people into the sciences and into engineering). The idea seems to be that majors which will earn more money should have a higher tuition associated with it. China sends more scholars over here. Meanwhile we have been making it harder for the best students in the world to come here for political reasons and visa bias when it would make more sense to encourage the best of the best to come here to learn and to stay here and innovate!
  • China (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:15PM (#42384117) Homepage

    Well, of course. China has 3x the population of the US.

    • First in steel production
    • First in auto production
    • First in electronics production
    • ...

    And the interior provinces aren't even fully industrialized yet. That will change rapidly as the expressway and high speed rail networks are built out.

    • Re:China (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kergan (780543) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:45PM (#42384329)

      Well, maybe.

      Trouble is, they're building ghost cities [google.com], they build railroads with subpar concrete [nytimes.com] (hint, since it's not explicit in the NYT article: to make proper high speed rail concete you basically need a derivative of volcanic ash, and the amount thereof produced per year is lower than the amount needed to fit the needs of China's yearly consumption, which dwarves the consumption by that of all other countries; in other words, their railway infrastructure's lifespan is roughly 10-20 years, vs 50-100 in developed countries), they need to rebalance [mpettis.com], and so many other things can go wrong...

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I think you can get that sort of ash from fly ash as well (pozzolanic), but it's been a couple of decades since I read a decent text on concrete. Emerging technologies tend to get away with cutting corners drasticly anyway, so if you are right in ten years they'll be facing a huge bill to try to do it all again with the extra complication and expense of doing little bits at a time between trains or something.
        Where's our high speed rail? I'd be very happy with something like Japan had in the 1960s, it does
        • by Kergan (780543)

          If you are right in ten years they'll be facing a huge bill to try to do it all again with the extra complication and expense of doing little bits at a time between trains or something.

          Liu Zhijun got sacked precisely because these complications were already there insofar as I've been following.

        • by Animats (122034)

          I think you can get that sort of ash from fly ash as well (pozzolanic), but it's been a couple of decades since I read a decent text on concrete.

          Fly ash (which is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants with pollution control gear) has been widely used in US concrete since the 1970s. Currently, Texas reports a shortage because of cheaper natural gas replacing coal, while China, which is building and operating many new coal-fired power plants, is producing about twice as much as they can use. [asiancoalash.org]

          Bad concrete is a generic problem in construction. It requires constant testing and hard-ass inspectors to keep concrete quality up.

          Emerging technologies tend to get away with cutting corners drasticly anyway, so if you are right in ten years they'll be facing a huge bill to try to do it all again with the extra complication and expense of doing little bits at a time between trains or something.

          The US Transcontinental

    • More like 4.39x [wolframalpha.com]. But your point still stands.
    • Chinese territory will fragment. War within China will start. Good for business.
    • China has had 4+ times the population of the US for a very long time. The real reason they haven't been ahead of the US in production for many decades is that the productivity of the people was squandered by political forces within the country. It was corruption at the highest level, trading the productive potential for political stability.

      We have corruption too. Bad politicians who do sweetheart deals with contributors, crappy patent or copyright laws, lawsuits over unreasonable things with unreasonable se

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:16PM (#42384123)

    There no point for the US investing in R we get everything we need from China.

    Better focus on what we're really good at: creative financing

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      There no point for the US investing in R we get everything we need from China.

      Better focus on what we're really good at: creative financing

      You are the doctor that suggests waking up the patient to give him sedative drugs

      Financial economy without a real economy beneath is the problem, not the solution

    • Actually it's more like "all the money we were spending on R&D was producing technology that China was stealing anyway"
  • China will slow down [mpettis.com] or have crashed by then.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Exactly. Just like how the USA slowed down after the 1929 Stock Market Crash. It's a shame they never recovered from it.
      • by Kergan (780543)

        They eventually did, after a world war that destroyed half of the world's production capacity -- the other half being, for all intents and purposes, in the US. I dearly hope that such a scenario isn't on the table today.

    • by readin (838620)
      Even if China tops out at a per capita GDP only half of what the US has, they'll still have an overall GDP nearly twice that of the America with all the capability for spending on R&D and military that that implies.

      Some people like to point out that Japan eventually slowed down, which true, but only after it had a per capita GDP that was comparable America. The top developed nations aren't that far apart when it comes to that number. You can put up great growth numbers while catching up, but once y
  • China's labor is 1/10 the cost of the USA so in comparison, China is spending 5x times as much on R&D as the US or $2 billion if we compare actual wages. China and the US are in an economic war and the US is losing. Free trade with no tariffs is causing the economic collapse and closure of manufacturing due to the unfair wage difference between China and the Western world.
    • by the gnat (153162)

      China's labor is 1/10 the cost of the USA so in comparison, China is spending 5x times as much on R&D as the US or $2 billion if we compare actual wages.

      That's only true if you assume that the entire R&D budget goes towards pay wages. In some cases this may be true, but there are an awful lot of technologies required for certain fields that don't magically get cheaper in China. Biotech equipment and consumables are good examples: a lot of these simply aren't produced anywhere besides the US, Japan

    • by readin (838620)

      Free trade with no tariffs is causing the economic collapse and closure of manufacturing due to the unfair wage difference between China and the Western world.

      What is this "free trade" you speak of? Look into China's trade practices and you won't find much freedom. What you will find is a lot of Chinese government pressure on foreign companies both politically (try speaking out against China in America and then trying to do trade with them) and for money (build a factory with cool new technology, then lose it to the party officials' children).

      • by the gnat (153162)

        The reference to "free trade" means that China faces minimal barriers to trade with the US - i.e. exports can flow freely into the country, and there's no punishment for companies offshoring their manufacturing (or R&D, for that matter). Reciprocity isn't necessarily part of the deal.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Unfair? Who were the guys who removed tariffs? You know the opposite of free trade? You say it like china has all the control and you're just riding yourselves to the bottom. No. Ther US deliberately weakened their controls over trade balances in order to encourage trade. Well, now you have it and you're finding that there's lack of value that you're bringing to the world markets... troubles ahead me thinks.

  • Until the cost of living and the cost of labor in China is at parity with the US you can't compare $$ for $$; you also have to assume that the R&D talent (Engineers, Project Managers are equal); assuming that the talent is of a high quality.. if the talent costs less over there, than they don't have to spend the same $$$ to get the same results.

    IF the talent is equal and the cost is 1/2 to 1/3 cheaper than they are probably already at parity. If the talent isn't equal than no amount of $$ can really get

    • Re:Can't Compare (Score:4, Interesting)

      by the gnat (153162) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:38PM (#42384569)

      If the talent is better and equal or cheaper in cost then this game is over

      I guess the next question is "does this game actually matter?" Germany's population is about the same fraction of the US population as the US is of China, and presumably their R&D budget is much smaller than ours. But you never hear the Germans wailing about how the US has surpassed Germany in R&D spending; indeed, Germany's economy is one of the strongest in the world (especially Europe), with a large manufacturing sector and excellent technology, despite relatively high labor costs. Which doesn't mean that Germany is perfect or doesn't have problems - just that being overtaken in R&D spending doesn't automatically turn you into a third-world country.

      • by hhawk (26580)

        This maybe stereo typing but I think in general German engineering is really top quality in terms of building products to a set specification in a reliable and predictable manner. Given that they have been able to hold onto manufacturing jobs is also a plus..

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Given that they have been able to hold onto manufacturing jobs is also a plus..

          You can't talk about German manufacturing without talking about unions.
          And you can't talk about German unions without mentioning the positive and cooperative relationship that management has with them.

          The USA could emulate the German model, but it'd require a seismic shift in the way private business interacts with unions.

          • by hhawk (26580)

            I know in Japan that Union management is more aligned with company management.. is it similar in Germany?

      • Or maybe we should be happy that investment in scientific research is going up, and put petty patriotism behind us.

        Remember that we are first citizens of the world, though we divide ourselves into countries as a matter of practicality.
        • by the gnat (153162)

          Or maybe we should be happy that investment in scientific research is going up, and put petty patriotism behind us.

          Except that one of the main reasons why we invest in scientific research is that it helps advance our economy. Obviously everyone benefits to some degree, but typically the country responsible for a new innovation benefits the most. As a citizen of the USA, I want our country to make new discoveries and technologies first, not because of petty patriotism, but because I will (probably) persona

        • by khallow (566160)

          and put petty patriotism behind us./quote> Too bad that doesn't work both ways. At the sociopathic international level, nobody else will look out for your interests. If someone else is doing all the research, then you can bet good money, assuming you have any, that will work out to your detriment sooner or later.

        • Is "the world" going to give me a post-doc?

  • of blatant stealing enables. I, for one, wish the best to our putative overlords. They may find that piling up the winnings "higher and deeper" doesn't necessarily deliver predictable results.
  • When the US surpassed Europe - How dare they?
    When the China surpasses US - How dare they?

    Of course they dare. It is their 'obligation' to try. And if they win out big we won't hear about those embarrassing inbreds from Alabama and Kentucky discussing evolution any more. From what I have understood, Chinese are more pragmatic than any Bible reader, or?

  • $424 billion USD in the US buys much, much, much less than $220 billion USD in China.

    If you had a value for what 1 USD is worth in China with regard to purchasing power, relative to what 1 USD is worth in the US then you could make a realistic comparison.

    China passed the US in R&D and military spending long ago.

  • The US needs more tech / trade schools to free up the us universities for real higher edu / research

  • Have you seen Chinese research? Have you ever tried to reproduce some of their results? I have, and I would guess that even though spending might be equal, the quality will not catch up for a long time after that.

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