Tuesday, May 28, 2024

China is accelerating – {Science²}

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Every year the scientific journal temper nature It publishes its Geopolitics Index for Science. In 2022, that could cause Joe Biden to break out in a cold sweat. It shows that China’s strategic ambition, to reach parity with the United States of America, is at the end of its astonishing effort of scientific research.

index temper nature It is based on a measurement of scientific publications in 82 so-called “primary” journals where researchers publish their findings in order to publish and counter criticism from their peers (excluding the humanities and social sciences). This number may seem small compared to the thousands of scientific journals, but it’s the most popular in labs. Those whose access generally means – there are exceptions, of course – that the results presented are considered major or significant by “reviewers”, scholars who express a favorable or unfavorable opinion about the publication.

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The ranking of the major countries, below in a graph, shows that China ranks high behind the United States in the world of the happy few of the world’s sciences. An accurate count that takes into account the geographic origin of the publication’s authors to assign points to the country, which makes it possible to overcome the growing phenomenon of co-publishing that is increasingly dominating global research.

However, this arrangement shows that China has accelerated its approach to its strategic rival, as some observers noted in an article by temper natureEspecially during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Is this partly due to this pandemic? Indeed, the United States shows an intriguing decrease in its share of global scientific production measured in 2021 compared to 2020, a share that is symbolically below the 20% mark. However, because there is often a gap of several months between research conducted and published, the 2021 ranking reflects 2020 production – often the result of several years of effort and investment – and the 2020 ranking of 2019 as if the constraints of activities during 2020 slowed the labs The American laboratories, while the Chinese laboratories continued to advance at an accelerating speed. The table shows stagnation or regression on the part of most major scientific nations. Only China is showing a remarkable development that frankly makes it cross the 15% barrier.

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The classification of scientific institutions (research institutions, universities) demonstrates this rapid development. This is the order of the first 25:

It has become common to find the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the foreground there, an influence of a large number of Chinese scholars who have declared it their place of work in their publications. It is the same effect that allows Max Planck Society German and CNRS French to be in the top four. But the most exciting thing is this: no less than 9 Chinese universities (and thus 10 institutions affiliated with the Academy of Sciences) are among the top 25. Prestigious Yale University certainly exists but… in 25th place. temper nature Note that of the 50 institutions that climbed the fastest in this ranking over the past year, no less than 31 are Chinese.

Let us annoy our French leaders obsessed with the so-called Shanghai Ranking of World Universities: we understand, in light of this ranking, that the Chinese government has called on scholars and students to abandon it. Initially the goal was to help Chinese students identify the best universities in the world to go there to study and in particular for their Ph.D., and frankly it becomes pointless to do so, when the best place is often… in China!


But how can China achieve such rapid success? temper nature Do not beat the bush:money you answer. It is true that China’s investment in scientific and technological research, in public and private funds, has witnessed an unprecedented development in its speed and scale. The review publishes a chart from the World Bank for the period from 1996 to 2018, in which China’s share of GDP devoted to this effort rose from 0.6% to 2.14%. It’s now 2.4, which is one of the highest in the world… and operates on the basis of a fast-growing GDP. This means more researchers and engineers with the best possible equipment.

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This ambition continues today, because Chinese leaders are not satisfied with their current position. They wish to increase their efforts further to provide their country with the scientific and technological base that they lacked when Japan and the United Kingdom attempted to dominate it at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. An unforgettable lesson in Beijing. The goal is clear: to achieve strategic parity with the United States in this area, which is the key to a geopolitical position at the height of Chinese demographics.

Sylvester Hoyt

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