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China spent an estimated $279bn on R&D last year

|Feb 27|magazine6 min read

It has been announced that China spent approximately $279bn in total on research and development in 2017.  

This marked a 14% increase year-on-year, with an increase since 2012 of 70.9%.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Wan Gang, announced the figure to media and said it is necessary for China to become a big technology innovation power by 2050.

Overall, the figure amounts to 2.1% of the country’s GDP, which according to Reuters sits against 2.8% in the US, 2.9% in Germany and 3.3% in Japan, based on figures from the World Bank.

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About 77% of the spending came from enterprises, according to Wan, who added, “China needs to enter the ranks of innovative countries and become a big technological innovation power by 2050. Basic research and frontier exploration is the big lesson that must be done now.”

The research and development funding is said to have been largely spent on areas such as AI, robotics and big data. China is trying to move away from heavy industries which contribute heavily to pollution, and has established a national team  to develop AI including big players like Alibaba, as well as high tech industrial parks doing work in these tech developments.

China now plans to produce 2mn electric vehicles by 2020, which will be a 100% increase on this year’s volume of 1mn.

All this forms part of the 13th five-year plan for national science and technology talent development which runs from 2016-2020.