China surpasses Japan in R&D spending

China has overtaken Japan in research and development spending, making it the world's second highest national research spender, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has claimed, writes Keith Nuthall.

Based on recent data, China will have spent more than $136 billion (£70 billion) on R&D in 2006, exceeding Japan's $130 billion, said the OECD.

It said the US would remain top, with more than $330 billion spent in 2006.

The former 15-member European Union, which includes Britain, France and Germany, is expected to spend more than $230 billion.

Dirk Pilat, head of the OECD's science and technology policy division, said: "The rapid rise of China in terms of money spent and researchers employed is stunning. To keep up, OECD countries need to make their research and innovation systems more efficient and find new ways to stimulate innovation."

His department noted that the proportion of China's gross domestic product allocated for research and development went from 0.6 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 1.2 per cent in 2004.

This is an increase from just over $17 billion in 1995 to $94 billion in 2004, a rate that exceeds the country's breakneck economic growth of between 9 and 10 per cent a year.

China has 926,000 researchers, while the US has 1.3 million.

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