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China narrows U.S. lead in R&D spending

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Science  19 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6412, pp. 276
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6412.276

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Summary

Already the world's second biggest R&D spender behind the United States, China is steadily narrowing the gap, according to a government report released last week. It shows that the total R&D outlay by government and industry rose 12.3% last year to a record 1.76 trillion yuan ($254 billion). Whereas China spent about 34% as much as the United States in 2012, the proportion is now closer to 45%, figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and U.S. agencies show. In purchasing power, China's 2016 spending was equivalent to 88% of U.S. spending, according to OECD. But basic research funding appears to be lagging, at just 5.5% of the total—one reason observers say that China still is far from matching the research capabilities of developed countries.