R&D spending reaches new high of 2.44% of GDP in 2021 as innovation ability grows
Published: Jan 26, 2022 05:32 PM
R&D Photo:Xinhua

R&D Photo:Xinhua

China's research and development (R&D) spending in 2021 accounted for 2.44 percent of its GDP, reaching a new high, and the ratio was up 0.03 percentage points from 2020, data released by the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS) showed on Wednesday, underscoring China's continuously elevating tech innovation ability.

Zhang Qilong, an NBS official, was quoted as saying in a statement on the NBS' website that the 2.44-percent R&D/GDP ratio is near the 2.47-percent level of OECD countries in the pre-pandemic era.
Total R&D input grew 14.2 percent year-on-year to 2.79 trillion yuan ($441.13 billion) in 2021, and after deducting price factors, the growth rate was 9.4 percent, official data revealed. 

The R&D expansion ratio was higher than the targeted annual growth rate of at least 7 percent listed in the 14th Five-year Plan (2021-25), achieving a head start for the five-year period.

In 2021, expenditure on basic R&D totaled 169.6 billion yuan, up 15.6 percent. That was 1.4 percentage points faster than the growth in total R&D input. The share of basic R&D to total expenditure was 6.09 percent, up 0.08 percentage points from the previous year.

Wang Peng, an assistant professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the rise in R&D is an "encouraging sign" that shows China's indigenous future tech drivers are "abundant," and the top-down environment for tech innovation and resulting applications is also improving, which would support China's economic upgrade and structural transformation.

"China has accelerated the building of national laboratories, and in 2021 it achieved new breakthroughs in original innovation sectors such as space detection, nuclear physics, quantum science and bioengineering," Zhang said.

But Zhang also noted that compared with global tech powerhouses, China's R&D expenditure still has room to improve in terms of scale, structure and efficiency, and the country will accelerate the rollout of more policies to support high-level tech development across the economy. 
Wang suggested that in addition to government investment, private enterprises should also be encouraged to beef up R&D spending, particularly in basic R&D. 

According to the Global Innovation Index issued by the World Intellectual Property Organization, China's tech innovation ability ranked 12th among 132 economies in 2021, up two slots from 2020 and champion among middle-income economies. 

Global Times