Workers at Foxconn’s Shenzhen, China factory.
AFP | Getty Images
China’s research and development spending rose 10.3% to 2.44 trillion Chinese yuan ($ 378 billion) in 2020, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.
The office said in a press release on Sunday that R&D spending aimed at developing new services or products represents 2.4% of China’s gross domestic product.
It’s a new record for China, but it’s also the slowest incremental growth in five years, down 12.5% in 2019.
The bureau said that by the end of 2020, China had 522 “national key laboratories” and 350 “national technical research centers” in operation.
It added that around 457,000 projects were funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and 3.6 million patents were granted last year, up from 40% in 2019.
In contrast, the U.S. planned to spend around $ 134 billion on research and development in 2020, according to a report by the Federation of American Scientists last March. Official figures on R&D spending are yet to be released by the US
The UK, home to far fewer people, spent £ 11.4 billion (US $ 15.9 billion) on research and development in 2020 but plans to more than £ 22 billion by 2024 or 2025 double.
Tech sovereignty boost
Washington has introduced several policies in recent years designed to curb China’s rapid growth.
It blacklisted dozens of Chinese companies and last year blocked global shipments of chips to blacklisted telecommunications equipment giant Huawei, citing national security concerns. Huawei has repeatedly denied that its equipment contains backdoors that the Chinese government can use for espionage purposes.
As the world’s supply chains have become more unstable, China and other nations have taken steps to strengthen their “technology sovereignty” and rely more heavily on critical core technologies like 5G and semiconductor chips.
“Growing geopolitical uncertainties and the risk of global trade conflicts call into question the optimism of the past decades with regard to the interdependence of our economies,” said the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in a report last July.
China’s National People’s Congress is set to announce more new measures this week that will further advance China’s ability to innovate on its own.