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The Weight of Science in World Power
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The Weight of Science in World Power | OP-ED

A study shows how China now dominates scientific publications. The United States is second. What does it mean?

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A month ago President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, with a budget of 200 billion dollars for the next ten years in research and development.

It allocates 52 billion dollars to boost industrial policy in order to face, among other things, the modern technological race against China. The aim is for the U.S. industry to win the competition, specifically in semiconductors or cutting-edge microchips, not an easy task when the Asians produce more than 50 percent of what is in circulation in the world today, a market with shortages after the pandemic.

Regarding science, there was a piece of news at the beginning of August that was not sufficiently reported in the media. Japan’s National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTP) prepared a report on the volume and quality of scientific research in the world, an aspect that marks the present and future power of those who are vying for that position.

The study refers on average to what happened between 2018 and 2020. The Chinese made 407,181 scientific publications, compared to 293,434 from the United States, which is second in the world ahead of Germany. Those figures mean that China adds up to 23.4% of what is produced on the planet in terms of scientific research, which gives it stature in terms of development.

On the other hand, in detail, China is first in research in materials science, chemistry, engineering and mathematics and in patent applications. The United States leads in life sciences, physics and clinical medicine. It is also first in the number of doctoral degrees awarded and in what is invested in research.

The Japanese study recognizes that it is not enough to publish, but the impact of research, and China also dominates in this area of quality. It had already overtaken the European Union in 2015 and the United States in 2019.

“China is one of the top countries in the world in terms of quantity and quality of scientific articles. To become the true world leader, it will need to continue to produce internationally recognized research”. The testimony is by Shinichi Kuroki of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, published by Nikkei Asia.

In 2016, Science referred to China’s leadership in the number of research projects, but doubted the quality of what was produced. Now, the study published by NITSP clears those doubts and confirms that now there is an important indicator of real impact on science.

In these times of intense competition for world domination, this information cannot be underestimated. Undoubtedly, after the revision of the Chinese model by Deng Xiao Ping, after Mao’s death, China began step by step an economic evolution hat has them fighting today  for the vanguard in all that this implies. It is an elementary explanation, but the conclusion is true. They are not thinking about today, but about tomorrow, with a patience that is foolproof.

In contrast, the United States has problems at home and abroad that jeopardize its global leadership. And what the Japanese institute’s report concludes is only the ratification of China’s intention not to be among the world’s four powers, but to be the first. 

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  • life sciences
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