Since 1995, China has not only more than doubled its R&D spending (R&D as a percentage of GDP) passing from 0.6 to 1.3% of GDP, but the number of researchers was also increased by 77% between 1995 and 2004, mainly because researchers' increased salaries encourage talented Chinese scientists and engineers to remain in China.
Currently, the Chinese economy is growing by some 10% a year and the R&D intensity is increasing even faster. China has therefore now become the second largest R&D investor behind the United States. "The rapid rise of China in both money spent and researchers employed is stunning," said Dirk Pilat, head of the OECD’s Science and Technology Policy division, urging other OECD countries to make their R&D systems more efficient to keep up.
In numbers, China will spend some €102 billion on R&D in 2006, a little more than Japan's forecast of €97 billion. The United States is expected to remain the world's top R&D investor in 2006 with some €248 billion, whereas the EU-15, is expected to invest around €173 billion. The EU-25 R&D expenditure in 2004 amounted to 1.9% of GDP, some €195 billion.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of China-EU Science and Technology Year in October, the Chinese Vice Science and Technology Minister WU Zhongze said that the Chinese National Medium- and Long-term Science and Technology Development Plan (2006-2020) will "prioritize technological developments of energy, water resources and environment protection, and is determined to solve major bottlenecks in China's socio-economic development".