Thursday, February 21, 2008

A timely boost for Research and Development activities in China

By China Watcher

Recently, it was reported in the Washington Post that the elite “brains” of former Chinese students who hold high paid jobs in US are resigning in batches lured by the Chinese government incentives to offer high positions and unlimited funding for research and development activities.

The Chinese government efforts to reverse the brain drain over the past 30 years by providing attractive grants, tax breaks and a lesser regulated experimental environment are believed to be the main success factors for the sizeable return of scientist and business managers from the US and the West.

In the same report it stated that more than 275,000 educated professionals have over the past few years returned to chart their fortunes in an economy which is growing in size to match up to its actual potential. The Chinese economy is expected to surpass the German’s economy at US$3.2 trillion by the end of 2008, to become the third largest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product.

China has announced that it will double its research-and-development spending by 2010, to about $69 billion whereas the US has reduced and tightened its scientific budget.

Presently, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the government affiliated R&D Center, is staffed with 81% returnees. This is certainly good news to the one-party government in China and is a timely boost to ensure that the manufacturing sector, a vibrant part of its economy, will get the cutting edge technology to produce more innovative and creative products with its own trademarks and patents. These higher end products which command a better return will help China move up the technology ladder faster and reduce the scores of complaints initiated by the West on China’s unfair trade practices.

The biotechnology section under the Science Ministry of which the Chinese government has paid a lot of attention will also gain from the Chinese returnees. On the military front, the high technology developed from R&D activities especially on military craft and weapons, will speed up China’s military modernization by upgrading the precision of its missiles, the avionics on its fighter planes and most important, to build a blue navy in line with its status as a potential superpower.

Hopefully, one day we’ll get to see the US and the West attempting to source its latest technology – be it legal or illegal - from China instead of the other way as we all know.

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