Sep 17, 2019 06:47 PM

Charts of the Day: China’s R&D Spending Sees Third Year of Double-Digit Growth

China’s research and development (R&D) spending rose by 11.8% to 1.97 trillion ($277.7 billion) last year, according to an official report.

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Last year’s figure was nearly three times the expenditure of 2010 and marked the third consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to a report jointly issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and two other central government departments last month.

Still, R&D spending as a proportion of the country’s GDP increased only slightly — from 2.15% in 2017 to 2.19% last year.

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China’s R&D spending is mainly driven by businesses, which contributed 77.4% to the total in 2018. The remainder came from government and affiliated bodies, and universities, which contributed 13.7% and 7.4% respectively. The report did not specify where the other 1.5% came from. 

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Of the 1.97 trillion yuan, only 5.5% was spent on basic research, which aims to improve scientific theories to increase understanding of phenomena. A country’s basic research capabilities are seen as a key element in its ability to innovate. According to a report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the U.S. Congress’ public policy research arm, 16.9% of U.S. R&D spending went on basic research in 2015.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (

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