China Surpasses Japan in R&D as Powers Shift

China is on the verge of overtaking Japan as the second-biggest spender on research and development after the U.S., marking another key shift in the rivalry between the world’s economic powerhouses, a new report shows.

China is expected to spend $153.7 billion on R&D in 2011, up from the $141.4 billion it will spend this year, according to Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit that does scientific research for the government and industry. By comparison, Japan is expected to spend $144.1 billion next year, up from $142 billion in 2010.

Despite China’s surge, the U.S. remains by far the biggest R&D spender, making up one-third of the global total.

“China has sustained this kind of growth [in R&D spending] for a number of years and they’re sticking to it regardless of what’s going on in the global economic cycle,” said Martin Grueber, senior researcher at Battelle and co-author of the report, which is published in R&D magazine.

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