Government investment in foundational research and development increases daily in step with China’s waxing economic strength, but the state’s share is still relatively high, while that of companies and other social institutions remains low.
This was the message of Zhang Xiaoyuan, director of the bureau of resource allocation management with China’s science and technology ministry, delivered at a press briefing yesterday on the current state of the country’s scientific investment.
Outlays were CNY82 billion (USD13 billion) in 2016, up from 2011’s 41.1 billion, but the official share was over 90 percent, as Zhang noted, but without citing figures for last year.
The proportion of expenditures from China’s treasury on basic research attained the basic levels of developed Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, which is about 20%, he stated.
Government-backed R&D takes two forms: one is direct disbursements to R&D institutes and universities, allotted based on their own judgment as to future scientific development, while the second consists of contracted projects for which the state announces funding guidelines and which any institution may compete to secure.
The ratio between the two is 1:1, Zhang said.
In addition to increased state investment in research, local fiscal authorities and companies should also raise their investment, he urged. China has already explored the possibility of and encouraged firms and local governments to up basic R&D on large projects, of which quite successful cases, and these experiences should be propagated.
China’s domestic charity sector has also developed quite rapidly in recent years, with donations to education and healthcare relatively great, but its contribution to basic research is slight, and the state should encourage donors to give more for R&D.