by Jean-Pierre Voiret for tjhe Saker Blog

After the beginning of the millenium, China started investing huge amounts of money in scientific research and development. With millions of engineers and scientist working to develop the country and its science and technology this effort will, in the long term, bring about a tremendous quantum jump in science and technology for the whole planet.


Atimes Asia Times online, Hong Kong
BjRev Beijing Review online, Beijing
CASS Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing
EinNews Ein News online, Washington DC
GT Global Times online, Beijing
Hirn Wolfgang Hirn: Angriff aus Asien. Fischer, 2007, Germany
NZZ Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich
Sieren Frank Sieren: Der Chinaschock. Econ, Berlin, 2008.
Spieg Der Spiegel, Hamburg
StZ Stuttgarter Zeitung, Stuttgart
VDI VDI Nachrichten, Düsseldorf
WiWo Wirtschaftswoche, Düsseldorf
Xinhua China’s State News Agency, online edition, Beijing

With seven-league-boots in R+D

General Trend: „The Chinese scientists walk with seven-league boots to the top positions in the field of Research and Development (R+D)“ wrote the German Wirtschaftswoche (‘Economic week’) as early as 2005 in a “China” special issue. And China’s expenditures on R+D reached a record high of 869 billion Yüan (US$ 140 billion) in 2011, up 23% year on year and accounting for 1.84% of GDP (1.76% in 2010). In the same year, fiscal spending on science & technology development rose by 19.2% to reach 490 billion Yüan or 4.5% of the State’s total expenditures (GT, 2012.10.26). In 2012, China’s R+D spending overtook the mark of one trillion Yüan (US$ 162.3 billion) after a growth of 17.9% year on year, now representing 1.97% of GDP. This situation is based on a healthy development of education: “The 6th [national population] census shows us that the average education level for Chinese citizens has been greatly raised, and its speed [of development] exceeds the population growth, [a fact] which had never been seen in human history before” said Hu Angang at a CASS-Qinghua seminar in May, 2011. Five years after the Wirtschaftswoche statement, B. Bartsch wrote in the Stuttgarter Zeitung: „In many fields, the Chinese are already reaching their target of technological independence“ (StZ, 2010.9.17). The State’s role is very important: private companies spend only 3.5% of China’s total R+D expenditures, whereas State companies spend 34% of them. The rest is spent by research institutions like the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which owns 90 different research institutes. The framework for the State’s activity is the Outline national programme for the medium and long-term development of science and technology 2006-2020 with 16 key areas. This plan is supported by the Indigenous Innovation National Campaign of 2006. According to the UN, China was investing in 2007 the third highest sum in R+D after the USA and the EU, before Japan. It should however be noted in this comparison that the USA spend an over-the-average high percentage of their R+D money in largely unproductive military R+D. This may be one of the reasons why OECD’s Economic Research saw the situation differently: According to their estimate, China had already spent in 2006 over 136 billion Yuan more for R+D than any other countries with exception of the USA (Sieren, Chinaschock, p. 393). If one takes into account the excessive (and economically unhealthy) US spending in weaponry R+D, this means that the Middle Kingdom is already the N° 1 in the field of civil research and development. As a matter of fact, China’s R+D spending grows currently at the rate of around 20% yearly, so that even if the OECD’s estimate was overrated, China will soon overtake all other countries anyway. Here are the R+D spending data for the leading countries in 2019 according to Wikipedia Germany:

USA: 612.7 billion US$ = 3.1 % of GDP.

China: 514.8 billion US$ = 2.2% of GDP.

Japan: 172.6 billion US$ = 3.2% of GDP.

India: 158.7 billion US$ = 1.3% of GDP.

Germany: 131.9 billion US$ = 3.2 % of GDP.

Investments: According to the Beijing Review, China boosted her R+D investments from 1.34% of GDP in 2005 to 1.84% of GDP in 2011, 1.97% of GDP in 2012, and plans to reach 2.2% of GDP until 2015 and 2.5% of GDP by 2020 (BjRev., 2012.12.24). ”China’s Gross Domestic expenditure on R+D (GERD) tripled between 2000 and 2006“ (Atimes, March, 2010). Companies investing in research enjoy important tax rebates. Alone in the year 2006, China had been pumping around US $ 37 billion in R+D (Xinhua, January, 2007) and, among others, huge sums in the building of laboratories and research institutes in the universities of the country. By 2012, this sum had grown, as we said, to the amount of US$ 162 billion. This growth has not been checked by the economic crisis. For instance the building of the World’s biggest earthquake simulation laboratory was started in July, 2009 at the Shanghai Tongji University[1]. In the same month, the first National Aerodynamic Laboratory for Advanced Space Technology was opened in Sichuan, where China already has several wind tunnels and aircraft development corporations. In the 12th five-year plan of China (2011-2015), the aircraft industry’s growth plays an important part. The building of a research and development centre for the country’s large capacity aircraft programme began in 2009. Bejing Review informed on the 1st of Feb., 2010, that AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co. has started the building of an R+D centre for the development of engines for the future Chinese large cabin aircrafts. The yearly Chinese air show, during which China presented its new middle range passenger aircraft ARJ21 for 70 to 110 passengers in Sept., 2009, is to day by far the most important air show in Asia. The State owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. (ComAC), which manufactures the ARJ21 with the help of different international contractors (GE for the engines, Rockwell-Collins for the electronic equipment), delivers the aircrafts since 2011. The company already had 208 orders in 2010, 25 of which came from GE Commercial Aviation Services. ComAC also prepares the production lines for the manufacturing of the future large cabin aircraft for 190 passengers C919, which flew at the 2012 air show. The maiden flight took place in 2010, mass production is planned to start in 2014. Hundred and two C919 were already ordered by the end of 2010. Airbus A320 airplanes are currently assembled in series in Tianjin, where Airbus built a copy of her Hamburg assembly line for US$ 1.2 billion[2]. Eleven A320 were produced there in 2009, 26 in 2010 and 36 in 2011.

Universities, institutes of technology, patents: The number of officially approved universities and institutes of technology grew by 70% to over 1700 between 1998 and 2004. In the same period, the number of students exploded from 3.6 to 14.2 million (2004) and reached over 20 million by the end of 2007 (Wiwo, China special issue, 2007). The private industry also invests huge sums in R+D. For instance, telecom giant Huawei (Shenzhen) invests 10% of its income into its R+D in the frame of a very long term company policy planning. In 2007, almost 50% of the 70’000 Huawei employees were busy with R+D activities. No wonder this company is granted the highest number of patents each year (for instance 2734 patents in 2012, as against 2727 patents for Chinese competitor ZTE (Xinhua, 2013.02.22). By the End of 2007, the company had already applied for a total of 26,880 patents (ATimes, 2008.8.16). By the way: at the end of 2012, Huawei had 140,000 employees world wide (NZZ, 2012.11.27). In a more general way, one should note that since 2002, the number of Chinese and South-Korean patent applications at the European Patent Office EPA grew by 34% yearly on the average (StZ, N° 138/2007). In 2008, the number of Chinese patent applications at EPA kept growing at the rate of almost 30% in spite of the economic crisis (StZ., 2009.4.2). In Germany, Chinese companies applied for 160 patents in 2000, but for 12,700 patents in 2010 and for 16,000 in 2011 (StZ, 2012.1.21). The growth rate in patent applications by Chinese from 2009 to 2010 in Munich was 54% year on year (StZ, 2011.5.2). In Beijing itself, China has organised a state of the art patent office along newest Western patterns. The number of patent applications from all provinces of the country is growing at high speed. In spite of the young age of the new patent and copyright law (enacted 1984), the number of patent applications has grown by more than 20% per annum in the five years from 2002 on, to reach a total of 4 million applications for the 2002-2007 period. “More than 900,000 new patent applications are awaited for 2008” wrote the China daily on the 30th of October, 2008, whereas a NZZ graphic of July 26th, 2011, indicates roughly 800,000 applications for 2010[3] (this means that the yearly number of patent applications of the USA could be overtaken by China in a few years from now); on these applications, around 200,000 invention patents are granted in China each year (for instance 217,105 in 2012 according to Xinhua, 2013.2.22). The third revision of the 1984 patent law was put in force on the 1st of October, 2009. The new rules now meet the requirements of the corresponding international agreements (TRIPS) and thus comply with most international standards. Just as these developments take place, Thomas L. Friedman tells us in his book “The World is flat“ (NY, 2005) that the number of American patents and of American scientific publications regularly decreases since a number of years. The US Patent Office itself is stuck in a lasting crisis (VDI, 2007.2.16). Who knows in the USA to day that the 19th century reformer Kang Youwei considered the USA as the most innovative country on Earth in his memorandum of 1895 to the young emperor of China: “The positive interaction between inventiveness and education”, he wrote, “is most evident in the USA, where thousands of new patents for industrial inventions are applied for each year.” Tempi passati! By the Way, China’s largest technology imports no longer come from the United States, but from Europe (39.3%); Japan takes the second place (23.8%) whereas the USA are now just third (19.2%). The successes of the efficient Chinese R+D policy are showing quickly: At the beginning of 2007, China’s first self manufactured high speed train was put into service on the Shanghai-Hangzhou line. At Christmas 2009, the Wuhan-Guangzhou high speed line was also opened to high speed service, reputedly with a routine average speed of 320 km/hour. “The World’s first high-speed railway in areas with extremely low temperatures, the Harbin-Dalian railway, started operations in Northeast China on Dec. 1st, 2012” (BjRev., 2013.1.21). As soon as 2009, Premier Putin declared on the 12th October meeting in Beijing that Russia would now buy its high speed trains from China – no longer from Europe: “They are as fast or even faster, and cheaper” (GT, 12.10.09). China is also technologically independent – and even leading on automation – in the underground train technology. In 2007, China also put a bus with hydrogen drive on trial. It is also since 2007 that the Middle Kingdom owns an independent caesium time-measuring system (integral atomic clock). In 2010, the World also heard for the first time that China had the World’s fastest Supercomputer – a computer of the Tianhe 1A Type.

Technology parks: In China, the preparation of the scientific and technological future is advanced by a formidable group of remarkably well planned high technology parks; W. Hirn writes for instance about the Zhongguangcun technology park: „On the level of equipment and support, you cannot find anything comparable in Germany. The Martinsried technology park outside of Munich, which is often labelled the German “Silicon Valley” of biotech industries, looks rather like a miniature edition of a Chinese technology park. Here [near Beijing], a huge science landscape was built with State assistance around the Beida and Qinghua mother universities. On about 100 square kilometres, more than 400,000 researchers are working in more than 200 research institutes and in some fifty new universities. Between them, you’ll find many high-tech enterprises and start-ups. Lenovo, China’s most famous IT company, originated for instance in Zhongguancun.” (Hirn, p. 176). Zhonguancun was the first technology park of this type. In the meantime, each Chinese big city owns an institution and/or an R+D conglomerate of this sort. GT wrote that at the end of 2012, China had more than 100 high-tech zones. The first four best ones were Beijing’s Zhongguangcun, Shanghai’s Zhangjiang, Shenzhen’s SHTZ and Chengdu’s HTIZ (GT, 2012.12.21). And this is just Mainland China. If you take „global China“ under your microscope, then you must add Taiwan’s (for instance the famous Hsinchu Technology Park) and Singapore’s technology parks (like the incredible Biopolis) to the coming Chinese R+D empire. And because R+D is much cheaper in China (and in Asia in general) than in the USA or Europe (in 2007, you could employ five Chinese engineers and ten Indian ones for the cost of one US engineer), more and more Western multinational companies outsource their research centres to China. One can thus understand why The President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology wrote the following words in its report to the US government: „China’s rise to the status of a high-tech area is definitely one of our biggest worries” (quoted in Hirn, p. 55).

Conquering space

Space and geo-sciences: China’s successes in space and in the geo-scientific research are equally impressive: successful launch of three ocean surveying satellites (the third one launched in 2010), successful implementation of the China-Brazil satellite-based Earth sensing programme[4] (CBERS, China-Brazil Earth Research Satellite: N°1 Satellite: 1999; N° 2 sat.: 2003; N° 3 sat.: 2007; N° 4 sat.: 2011), successful launch of Shenzhou 5 into space in 2003 with astronaut Yang Liwei on board, successful launch of Shenzhou 6 in 2005, then of Shenzhou 7 (with extra vehicular activity) in 2008. China launched the unmanned Space module Tiangong 1 („Heavenly Palace 1“) of its prototype space lab in 2011. With 8.5 tons of weight, it will eventually be transformed into a manned space laboratory after experimental dockings of three Shenzhou spacecrafts: Shenzhou N° 8, 9 and 10. The automatic docking of Shenzhou 8 and the manned docking of Shenzhou 9 took place in 2011 and 2012 respectively. On June 18th, 2012, Shenzhou 9 completed its manual docking with Tiangong 1 with 3 astronauts on board, one of them a female. On board, they executed different experiments during ten days. Shenzhou 10 was successfully launched in mid-June, 2013. This time, the crew remained 15 days on board Tiangong 1. The permanent manning of the Chinese space lab took place in 2021. Taking part to the ISS work by Chinese astronauts, a Chinese wish supported by the EU and Russia, is refused by the USA under the pretext of „dual use danger” (use of scientific findings for military aims).

Lunar programme: Successful launch of the Chang’e-1 moon orbiter in the fall of 2007, successful launch of the 2nd Chang’e satellite on the 1st of October, 2010, to take photos of the moon and especially of Sinus Iridium, the future landing zone of Chang’e-3. Chang’e-2 photos of the moon and moon maps have been published on Feb. 6, 2012 (China sent Chang’e-3 and a lunar rover to the moon in 2013. Chang’e-3’s mission was to achieve a soft landing and rove the surface. Chang’e-4 rose in 2017 and returned to Earth with lunar soil and stone samples); after photographing the moon surface in low orbit in early 2011, Chang’e-2 was sent in outer space to orbit the 2nd Lagrange point L2; Chang’e-2 entered L2’s orbit in August, 2011, so that China’s SASTIND was the World’s third agency after ESA and NASA to put a spacecraft into orbit around L2. China was also successful with its Compass navigation system programme (programme duration: 2008-2011) with the launch of 2nd generation Beidou navigation Satellites on April the 15th, 2009, then January the 16th, 2010. Second generation Beidous contain an in-built atomic clock. The Beidou system also implements two-way text messaging, a function which GPS and Glonass cannot ensure; it is particularly useful in remote areas where mobile phone services are unavailable (BjRev, 2011.5.23). In October, 2012, the 16th Beidou satellite was added to the navigation system, making it ready for Asia-Pacific service, which started in the 1st half of 2013. Now Chinese mobile phones get Beidou access (BjRev, 2013.5.23). Total satellite number was 35 in 2020, providing world-wide service.

Remote sensing and more: China was also successful with the launch of the first Chinese Mars probe in the second half of 2009, and the launch of the seventh remote sensing satellite Yaogan VII from the new Jiuquan launch centre (uses: “Land resources survey, crop yield estimate, disaster reduction & prevention, etc.“); then came Yaogan VIII and Yaogan IX (2010.3.5). China also uses these satellites for the digital cartography of the whole of China – a project that was completed in the year 2015. China’s first space telescope was launched into space in 2012. China was not quite so successful with her communication satellites and had different problems at the beginning of the programme: After the loss of Sinosat-2 in 2006, the Nigerian communication satellite Nigcomsat-1, which was financed and supplied by China, also got blind in November, 2008, after only 18 months of service[5]. In all events, Beijing decided in July, 2008, to raise its aerospace research and production capacity by 100%. In the meantime, China manufactured a replacement satellite for Nigeria. It also launched successfully a communication satellite for Venezuela and one for Bolivia. The launch of a satellite for Laos also took place (2010). In the field of its own communication satellites, China launched its communication satellite Zhongxin 11 in May, 2013, to ensure commercial communication in the Asia-Pacific region. On the level of launchers, China successfully tested in July, 2012, its 120 ton-thrust liquid oxygen/Kerosene engine for its new generation of carrier rockets, the Long March-5 (BjRev., 2013.1.21). In the southern island of Hainan, as close to the equator as possible, the Chinese started in September, 2009, the building of their fourth space flights guiding centre with start ramps and flight control station. The Chinese Plan for the development of space industry of the eleventh 5-years plan and the Three stage plan for manned space research anticipate the following activities among other things: Until 2020, as we said, a space station exclusively manned by Chinese astronauts, then between 2025 and 2030 a manned landing on the moon, and until 2040 a manned station on Mars. “More than 5,000 Chinese firms and organisations are now involved in the applications and services of satellite navigation, and the industry generated more than 50 billion Yüan of output value in 2010 according to the report published by the Social Sciences Academic Press” (GT, 2012.1.24). With 22 successful launches, “the number of China’s space launches in 2011 surpassed that of the US, which sent only 18 satellites into orbit” (Pang Zhao in GT, 2012.1.20). What a contrast to the USA where the Spaces shuttles went into retirement in 2011, so that for many years, the USA will not have any own means of sending astronauts into space. Another fact is interesting: As soon as 2010, China succeeded in completing its nation-wide network of three satellites-monitoring ground stations: The stations in Miyun and Kashkar were already operational in 2009, the station in Sanya was then ready at the beginning of 2010. This net allows a China-wide 100% reception of satellite data. In April, 2013, China launched successfully her first high-definition earth observation satellite Gaofen-1. And in May, 2013, China conducted her first space science active experiment to obtain in-situ measurements of the vertical distribution of space environments.

“From pole to pole”

Antarctic and Arctic research: The Chinese Antarctic and Arctic research is also an astonishing success story. With the World’s largest non-nuclear research icebreaker, Xue long (Snow dragon), China has embarked on four Arctic research expeditions in recent years. The Chinese scientists are even more active in the Antarctic: There, they have since 2003 a big base station at their disposal. This base has been entirely modernised in 2009. They also have two smaller stations, the Kunlun-Station on Dome A, the highest Antarctic summit at 4093 m above sea level, and the Zhongshan Station in the Grove Mountains. They operate a sensor station on Dome A. China will build two more Antarctic research stations by 2015. In 2012, China has organised twenty eight Antarctic research expeditions since 2003, the most recent one (28th) ended in April, 2012 after 163 days voyage. In July, 2009, the Chinese also began the building of a new and stronger telescope network at the South Pole. The CAA (China Arctic and Antarctic Administration, under the State Oceanic Administration) launched 5 new Antarctic expeditions from 2011 to 2015.

Exploration: In the course of the last decade, China also organised several high-level geo-scientific explorations/expeditions in the Amazon basin (2004), in the Himalayas (2007) and in Ethiopia (Great Rift Valley, 2008). In Tibet, which seemed to be particularly hit by global warming (the permafrost layer was said to be thawing), China built up a network of 48 soil observatories and 4 radar stations in order to be able to record permanently the data measured around the clock. Tibet is also a centre for cosmic ray research under the Institute of High Energy Physics. In the field of astrophysics, the Chinese government opened officially on June 4th, 2009, its new Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fibre Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) in Xinglong, Hebei Province: „The largest of its kind in the World, it will scan 10 million celestial spectra in the coming five years, one of the World’s most ambitious astronomical endeavours to record key data betraying how the universe was formed“. In Tibet, China built in collaboration with Germany a conventional optical observatory near Lhasa. On Oct. 28th, 2012, China unveiled Asia’s biggest radio telescope in Shanghai; it is used to track & collect data from satellites and space probes.

Underwater activities: For underwater exploration (for instance oceanographic, archaeological, geological, oil, etc.), China built a submersible – the Jiaolong – designed for exploring to 7,000 meters’ depth. In early 2010, the Jiaolong planted a Chinese flag in a South China Sea canyon at 3,759 meters below sea level, then reached 5188 meters in July, 2011. A dive to 7062 meters took place in June, 2012 (BjRev., 2013.1.21). A new Deep-sea base with wharves, deep-sea equipment maintenance workshops, large scale experimental pools and training facilities for oceanauts is being built (commissioned end of 2014); it also provides ground support for the Jialong and for other large scale deep-sea equipment. In early 2013, a Chinese research vessel started an undersea resources survey of the Pacific Ocean. We would also like to mention a border area of Chinese research because it shows how fast the country’s scientists are able to reach top level: Until 1987, nothing had ever happened in China in the field of underwater archaeology. The Underwater Archaeological Research Office, a branch of the National History Museum, was founded in 1987. In 1990, the first research dives took place with foreign colleagues. In 1991-1997, the Chinese archaeologists carry out alone several underwater excavations on five Ming dynasty (1368-1644) ships sunk outside the Coast of Liaoning-Province. In 2007, a Song dynasty (960-1279) ship, Nanhai I, is entirely salvaged out of the South China Sea and then preserved, showing that the Chinese now have a perfect command of the preservation technologies. In Mai, 2009, the Baiheliang underwater Museum is opened in Chongqing with all the underwater exhibits salvaged during the Three Gorges dam construction. Other highlight: In 2010, the ocean going ship Nan’ao I of the Ming Dynasty, is entirely salvaged with tons of Ming Chinaware.

Oil and gas exploration: Deputy director Zhong Ziran of the National Geological Survey told reporters in January, 2011, that his agency’s annual spending for oil and gas exploration will rise tenfold, to 500 million Yuan (US$ 60 million): “Sixty percent of this amount will support offshore projects”, he added. Until now, China’s offshore drilling has been limited to relatively shallow waters near its coasts, employing “jack-up rigs” that are planted on the sea bed. Now, CNOOC announced plans to deploy its first floating drilling platform: The $ 30 billion behemoth, Marine Oil 981, is designed to drill 800 deep water wells. They will produce $ 50 billion worth of oil annually by 2020. In the meantime, a similar floating rig was also built for PetroChina (Atimes, 2011.7.15).

Priorities: Within the framework of its World Crisis management package, the Chinese Cabinet decided in mid-May 2009 to finance with a sum of Yuan 62.8 billion (US$ 9.2 billion) 11 national research programmes which were planned to ensure breakthroughs in different fields. The promoted areas are CNC machining, civil aircraft development, („China to rival Boeing/Airbus with C 919 big plane”, titled EinNews of Washington on the 2009.10.13), pressurized water, high temperature and gas cooled nuclear reactors, broadband mobile communication, high-end central data treatment and software[6], development of big oil and gas fields, water purifying and water treatment technology, trans-genetic products and new medicines & Aids/Viral hepatitis therapies. The corresponding intellectual property (patents, etc.) will not belong to the State, but will be the property of the promoted universities, institutes and companies. In the field of water technology, the ministry of agriculture reported in April, 2013 the development of a new water-saving capillary-based irrigation method saving 50% water as compared to drip irrigation technology. In the field of water treatment, Boying Co. in Xiamen developed a new ‘Nanometer Catalyst Electrolysis’ (NCE) process with extremely promising applications. In a more general way, Xiamen is the centre of Chinese marine economy development; the administration is building there the South Marine Research Centre, which will house high-calibre researchers in oceanography. “China’s marine economy totalled 4.55 trillion Yüan ($ 722 billion) in 2011. The country’s marine output will reach 10% of the country’s GDP by 2015,” said Liu Cigui, Minister of the State Oceanic Administration (BjRev., 2012.12.17). In an interview on the 2009.12.27, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told a Xinhua reporter of the following general targets for the national research package:

„Our efforts must be focussed on the development of the Internet, of the green economy, of the low carbon economy, of the environment protection technology and of bio medicine“. In the field of Internet, fast broadband internet will access 18,000 more rural villages and 5,000 more schools in just one year (2013). These aims have all been reached. In the field of bio medicine, “The Ministry of Science & Technology announced on Jan. 11th, 2012, that it has approved a hepatitis-E vaccine developed by Xiamen University and Xiamen Innovax Biothech Co.

Robotics: China is still comparatively weak in robotics, owning only 21 robots for every 10,000 workers, compared with an average of 55/10,000 for the World and a peak of 339/10,000 for Japan. But China is pulling up very quickly because of its one child policy-induced growing labour scarcity and of the correspondingly rising wages: according to the International Federation of Robotics, the growth of industrial robotics in China in the past few years has been exceeding 40% to 50% a year, an unprecedented level of growth (Atimes, 2013.3.5).

From particle physics to Atomic energy and related fields

Particle physics: In the field of particle physics, Chinese research takes place under the responsibility of the IHEP (Institute of High Energy Physics), Beijing. IHEP’s main research centres are the Electron positron collider in Beijing, the Daya Bay neutrino research centre with the new Spallation neutron source in Shandong province and the Cosmic ray research centre in Tibet. R+D until 2020 focuses on the accelerator-driven sub-critical system (ADS) and the Beijing light source (BLS). IHEP is also heavily involved in space projects (see In 2012, IHEP scored a great success at Daya Bay where physicists solved some problems of the so-called neutrino oscillation in their cave lab. At the same time, we hear that the US DoE (Department of Energy) must scrap a new neutrino experiment by Fermilab because of insufficient funding: “The long baseline neutrino experiment of Fermilab is not affordable” said W. Brinkman, director of DoE’s Office of Science.

Nuclear energy: In the field of nuclear energy, the Atomic Energy Administration selected and assessed 14 reactor locations in the framework of the middle and long term National nuclear energy development plan (2005-2020). In 2010, China already exploited 13 nuclear reactor blocks in four nuclear power stations with a total production capacity of 10.8 GW, which is not quite 2% of the total electrical energy production (coal power stations produced 75% of the total energy production; their share then sank to 60% within ten years). Ten locations with a power capacity of 70 to 90 GW have been built with Chinese 2nd and 3rd generation technology between 2010 and 2020 (by comparison, India plans a nuclear power production capacity of 20 to 25 GW by 2020). Near Weihai, Shandong Prov., China was also building since the summer of 2011 her first 4th generation reactor inspired by the German “Kugelhaufen” (ball-heap) technology high temperature reactor, but also based on own developments. It produced 210 MW of electricity by 2015. If this reactor works satisfactorily, 18 more modules will be built for a production of 3.8 GW of electricity. In 2012, China also announced the commissioning of its first experimental fast neutron reactor, permitting to increase the utilisation rate of uranium to 60% (GT, 2012.10.31). In the meantime, China also started tackling the final storage problem in Beishan (Gansu Prov.), where miles of tunnels are being drilled into compact granite rock. Final storage in this location should start around 2050 (Sieren 2011, p. 71-2). China’s own uranium ore reserves should be sufficient until 2020. “Later, we shall rely on the market and on specific co-operation agreements with other countries” said Zhao Chengkun of the Chinese Nuclear Energy Association. Chinese State companies own shares of several uranium mines in central Asia and Africa. By comparison: In the USA, almost 45 reactors are currently missing according to specialists (EinNews, 2009.8.4).

Power transportation: For power transportation, China learnt the High Voltage DC (HVDC) power transport technology (for the so called HGÜ “power highways”) from Siemens, Germany, and now owns the World’s most up to date “intelligent” current transport grid. SGCC, the State-owned power distribution company operating 88% of the Chinese power grid, which is upgrading China’s grid with HVDC technology and IT management to accommodate varying renewable inputs, expressed in 2012 the wish to join the EU’s Desertec project. However, this project was given up by Europe for reasons of insecurity in North Africa. It is in Shanghai that Siemens, the World leader for sea-located wind parks, opened one of its 3 central offices for wind energy (the other two locations are Hamburg, Germany, and Orlando/Fa., USA). Finally, Asiatimes online published on the 26th of August, 2010, spectacular news: „A team of fifteen Chinese researchers from the Beijing Qinghua University and from the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences, a government-directed research centre, published in May [2010] a research paper announcing a successful demonstration of “quantum teleportation” (liangzi yinxing chuan) over 16 kilometres of free space. This should give China a clear advantage on the USA in the field of cryptography and in the field of security between communication networks. Employing quantum teleportation over a satellite network allows for complete secure communications without optical fibre infrastructure, even in sensitive and remote areas. In the meantime, the Chinese have mastered a 100 kilometers teleportation (StZ, 2012.8.10). Last but not least, China obtained the project management for the US$ 1.5 billion glass fibre optic cable network agreed upon at the 2013 Vladivostok BRICS Summit. This network, which will link the five BRICS countries with 21 African countries, will make the BRICS bloc independent of the Western world’s spying greed.


To close this study, let us note some important Chinese successes in science and technology mentioned in different Global Times issues.

Chinese IHEP physicists have confirmed and measured in the presence of foreign physicists a 3rd type of neutrino oscillation in their cave laboratory near the Daya Bay reactor in Guangzhou Province (GT, 2012.3.9). China has completed the construction of a powerful test bench for train braking systems setting a World record by allowing a maximal test-speed of 530 km/h (GT 2012.3.11). Two more weather stations have been added to the network of monitoring stations on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. End total will be 23 monitoring stations (GT, 2012.3.16). The Chinese ocean research ship Dayang yihao (Ocean One) set sail on a new global research voyage (GT, 2012.4.18). The first megawatt-level tower-type solar thermal power station in Asia was built in NW-Beijing. It uses a 1.5 MW steam turbo generator and generates 1.95 million Kwh of electricity annually in stable condition (GT, 2012.11.14). An amendment to the Chinese copyright law will enhance punitive measures against IPR piracy (GT, 2012.12.21). Within the framework of the National Research package announced in 2009 by Prime minister Wen Jiabao (see higher up), the IME (Institute of Micro-Electronics) of the CAS announced that they made a break through in shrinking integrated circuits (ICs), producing a field effect transistor (FET) with a gate length of only 22 nanometers. 22 nanometers IC technology will afford huge savings for China in importing foreign technology and will boost China-made IC products’ competitiveness (Xin hua). On Sept. 11, 2012, “the Chinese Sunway ‘Blue Light’ Supercomputer, built with domestically produced microprocessors and capable of one thousand trillion operations per sec. passed the examination of the experts panel of the Ministry of Science & Technology (BjRev, 2013.1.21). As soon as Feb., 2012, Prof. Pan Jianwei had demonstrated experimentally a topological correction with a 8-photon cluster state, thus securing a breakthrough in quantum information processing research (BjRev., 2013.1.21). In March, 2013, China’s strongest biogenetic Institute, BGI of Shenzhen, founded by Wang Jian, acquired its strongest American competitor for US$ 118 Million (Spiegel, N° 19, 2013). By the way: early in 2013, China reported the successful unlocking of the key genetic code of wheat.

Further Developments and records in Chinese R&D since 2015

(according to Global times, August 2022)

China’ ZK-1 solid propellent rocket made successful maiden flight from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, sending six satellite into pre-set orbits.

Shenzhou-14 crew receives 1st lab module Wentian at China Space Station, verifying country’s ability to assemble ultra-large spacecraft in orbit.

A new record for horizontal drilling technology under complex geological conditions was set by a Chinese hydropower company on Wednesday, with the termination depth reaching as deep as 775 meters below the ground under complex geological conditions.

China begins construction on world’s most far-reaching radar system to boost defence against near-Earth asteroid impact as well as sensing capability for the Earth-Moon system.

Chinese scientist make significant breakthrough in hyperfine wind observation with coherent Doppler effect wind-Lidar.

China unfolds deorbiting sail for in-orbit spacecraft, thus deploying a deorbiting sail system for the first time in the world. Deorbiting sails slow-down unused space objects or debris to bring them back on earth in a planned way within a much shorter time than usual.

Chinese scientists find high-pressure minerals in Chang’e-5 samples for the first time.

China’s world-largest radio telescope detects first persistently active repeating fast radio burst from 3b light-years away.

China’s Shenzhou-14 crewed spaceship successfully docks with the Tianhe space station core module.

BRICS countries establish joint commission on space cooperation.

Let us end with two interesting notices by the Beijing Review of August, 2022:

Protection of intellectual property: China’s progresses in this field are now widely recognized. In this respect, China jumps from the 22nd to the 12th place in the newest corresponding world ranking.

The opinion of most young Chinese on the West has changed in the course of the last ten years. The West’s reputation has been sinking and the respect for China’s own successes has been growing.

Jean-pierre Voiret, 1936, first received an engineer’s degree, and four years later a doctorate in metallurgy at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Nine years later, he started studying sinology at the University of Zurich. He has lectured on history of Chinese science at the Federal Institute of technology in Lausanne, and on general Chinese history at the University of Zurich.

  1. After the terrible Earthquake of May, 2008, researchers of the Chinese Laboratory for the Study of Continental Plates Dynamics immediately started series of drillings along the Sichuan faults in order to assess the stress of the geological strata afflicted by the quake. These systematic measurement campaigns went on during more than one year.
  2. The Chinese middle class flies more and more, so that air transports will more than double within the next 15 years. China’s airlines transported 230 million passengers in 2009 (by comparison: Number of transported passengers in India, 2010: 56 million). In 2015, China will operate 220 airports. Boeing and Airbus already fear the competition of China’s future huge civil aircraft assembly lines. Others than Airbus are also already working in China: Embraer produces her ERJ145 130-seater in Harbin, Bombardier produces the fuselage of her Q400 130-seater in Shenyang. AVIC produces electricity supply systems for aircrafts together with Hamilton-Sundstrand in Xian and manufactures avionics together with General Electric.
  3. Concerning patents: the NZZ speaks of 800,000 and WiWo of 314,000 patent applications in China for 2011! Did WiWo mean granted patents? Then it seems too many! At least, all agree on the huge rates of growth…
  4. An impressive success of the CBERS & Yaogan VII earth sensing programs was the discovery, at the end of 2009, of a huge iron ore deposit in the central Chinese province of Hebei (Reserves: About 10 billion tons iron ore).
  5. The competitors also have problems: for instance Boeing with its 702-series satellites, or Russia with KAZSAT-1.
  6. 1. On December 25th, 2009, BjReview reported that China’s new first petaflop-Supercomputer Tianhe (Milky Way) opened „a full world of new potentials“. This computer is able to carry out one Quadrillion Operations per second. 2. The first Chinese high temperature research reactor was demonstrated to foreigners in Huyu near Beijing in the fall of 2004: Deliberate stopping of the reactor’s cooling induced no melting down of the reactor’s core.


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