Boffins in China are out doing those in the US and are set to overtake the west as the Glorious People’s Republic gears itself to be the second largest economy in the world.
Figures, compiled by the publisher Thomson Reuters for the Financial Times, show that the number of peer-reviewed papers published by Chinese researchers rose 64-fold over the past 30 years.
While some had believed that the next big academic rival to the US would be India, it is looking like China is far ahead. In fact India has almost been overtaken by Brazil in terms of the number of papers published, with researchers in the South American country leading the way in agriculture and biology. Russia has been falling into a research abyss since 1981.
The report by James Wilsdon, of the Royal Society in London and Jonathan Adams, a research evaluation director at Thomson Reuters, called China’s growth “awe-inspiring” although they acknowledged that the value of the findings by its scientists were still “rather mixed”.
Although the US is ahead of China at the moment, it is not matching the amount of cash that the Chinese are putting into education. Meanwhile most scientists in the US are fighting a religious backlash from fundamentalist Christians who insist that basic scientific views, such as evolution, be banned from schools and the bible be taught instead. Stem cell research was effectively put on hold by the Bush administration because of his religious belief that it was somehow killing babies and interfering with God’s work.
Intellectuals are largely pooh-poohed in the US in a way that Chairman Mao would have been proud of and Climate Science has been ridiculed by those who have an economic interest in stuffing up the planet. This appears to be giving the Chinese a chance to catch up and overtake.