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China now publishes more high-quality science than any other nation – should the US be worried?


Caroline Wagner The Ohio State University 

China is now the leader in high-quality science production by at least one measure. My research has shown that Chinese scientists now publish a greater percentage of the top-1% most cited scientific papers worldwide than any other country.

As a policy analyst and policy expert, I study how government investment in science and technology can improve social welfare. While a country’s scientific prowess is somewhat difficult to quantify, I’d argue that the amount of money spent on scientific research, the number of scholarly papers published and the quality of those papers are good stand-in measures.

China is not the only nation to drastically improve its science capacity in recent years, but China’s rise has been particularly dramatic. This has left U.S. policy experts and government officials worried about how China’s scientific supremacy will shift the global balance of power. China’s recent ascendancy results from years of governmental policy aiming to be tops in science and technology. The country has made explicit efforts to reach its current position, and now the U.S. has to decide how to respond to scientifically competitive…

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