China's science spending is rising fast and on track to meet a 2010 target to spend 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development, according to a report released this week. But development represents the lion's share of the overall R&D budget and is growing more rapidly than basic and applied research.
Last year, China's total R&D spending reached 580 billion yuan ($85 billion), or 1.7% of GDP. Measured by current-price yuan (not taking inflation into account), R&D spending has increased 23% per year on average since 2000, according to a survey of R&D resources led by the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing. The survey was carried out to help the Chinese government prepare for the next 5-year economic development plan and to monitor the implementation of the country's mid-to-long-term science and technology plan for 2006-2020.
In 2009, basic and applied research spending constituted 4.7% and 12.6% of total R&D expenditure, dropping from 2000 levels of 5.2% and 17%, respectively. In 2009, the country invested 27 billion yuan ($4 billion) in basic research and 73 billion yuan ($10.7 billion) in applied research.
The government has pledged to beef up the proportion of spending going into basic research. The 15-year S&T plan sets basic research spending at
15% of total R&D expenditure by 2020. According to the report,
China's weakness in basic research hinders innovation.
*This article has been corrected 3:00 p.m., 1 December. A phrase stating that basic research spending should be about 10% of GDP by 2010 in order for it to be 15% by 2020 has been removed.