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China Boosts Science Funding by 10% Amid Economic Transition

By   Jennifer I. Mark Mar 30, 2024 223 5

China is set to ramp up its investment in science and technology, showcasing its commitment to innovation despite economic challenges. According to a draft budget report from the Chinese Ministry of Finance, the country plans to allocate 371 billion yuan (US$52 billion) in 2024, marking a notable 10% increase from the previous year as reported by Nature News. This surge in funding, the most substantial in five years, underscores China's strategic shift towards high-tech development amidst a profound structural transition in its economy.

Driven by aspirations for technological leadership and confronted with restrictions imposed by the United States, China is intensifying its efforts to bolster capabilities in critical domains such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors. While this surge in spending signifies a heightened dedication to science and technology, it still constitutes a relatively modest fraction of China's overall research and development expenditure, amounting to merely 11% of the total 3.3 trillion yuan allocated to R&D.

This announcement comes amidst the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress, with the legislative body reviewing the draft budget report submitted by the Ministry of Finance. The commitment to allocate substantial resources to science and technology reflects the government's recognition of the pivotal role played by innovation in driving economic growth and fostering national resilience.

Of the total government spending on science and technology, a significant portion, amounting to 98 billion yuan, is earmarked for basic research, representing a notable increase of 13% from the previous year. This infusion of funds into foundational research endeavors underscores China's determination to bolster its scientific capabilities and enhance its global competitiveness in emerging technologies.

According to Albert Hu, an economist at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, this increased investment signifies the government's acknowledgment of the imperative to provide scientists with the necessary resources to advance their research endeavors. Jing Qian, who leads the Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis in New York City, views this boost in government spending as emblematic of China's genuine commitment to its strategic priorities, particularly in advancing science and technology.

The surge in funding for science and technology comes amidst China's profound economic restructuring, transitioning from traditional sectors to a heightened focus on high-tech development. This strategic pivot is motivated not only by economic imperatives but also by a desire to assert technological self-reliance in the face of escalating tensions with the United States.

Marina Zhang, a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia, emphasizes that China's investments in science and technology, especially in fundamental research, are essential for securing a competitive edge in the global technological race. However, despite the notable increase in funding, government spending on R&D remains a fraction of China's total research expenditure, highlighting the need for sustained investments to propel innovation-driven growth.

As the congress session draws to a close, China's commitment to fostering a robust ecosystem for scientific advancement underscores its resolve to emerge as a global leader in science and technology, paving the way for sustained economic prosperity and technological prowess in the years to come.

Keywords

China science technology funding investment economic challenges artificial intelligence global dynamics government budget report Ministry of Finance basic research innovation scientific community technological advancement geopolitical competition United States technological self-reliance research and development

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