Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 16:17 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 16:17 | SYDNEY

China, science superpower?


Sam Roggeveen


8 January 2010 10:42

Yesterday I linked to a blog post by the New Yorker's man in Beijng, Evan Osnos, which detailed the rise of China up the world rankings of published scientific research. Today, I see that the Council on Foreign Relations' Asia Unbound blog has thrown some cold water on Osnos' post:

While China’s share of world scientific publishing has gone up significantly, the articles Chinese scientists publish are not, as Osnos notes, highly cited by others in the field. [Update: And the BBC is reporting that there is a $100 million a year market in ghost-written papers, bloating publication lists]

What's more, 'research on returned scholars suggests government plans to attract expatriates have “yielded mixed results at best” and “there is little doubt the best and brightest have not returned.”'

That scans closely with what James Fallows wrote in the Atlantic cover story I blogged about yesterday:

Americans often fret about the troops of engineers and computer scientists marching out of Chinese universities. They should calm down...“On paper, China has the world’s largest higher education system, with a total enrollment of 20 million full-time tertiary students,” Peter Yuan Cai, of the Australian National University in Canberra, wrote last fall. “Yet China still lags behind the West in scientific discovery and technological innovation.” The obstacles for Chinese scholars and universities range from grand national strategy—open economy, closed political and media environment—to the operational traditions of Chinese academia. Students spend years cramming details for memorized tests; the ones who succeed then spend years in thrall to entrenched professors.