China, Innovation Superpower: How to Deal With It

What does this mean for the global economy? You will win only if you open up and collaborate.

Pixled_GlobeChina has just achieved an impressive milestone: It has built the world’s fastest supercomputer. The Tianhe-1A is more than 40% faster than the previous leader, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. This is not an isolated event. Other, more mundane indicators of growing scientific capability in China have been emerging for years, such as the growing portion of articles in leading chemistry and physics journals that come from the country.

The supercomputer breakthrough is clearly a remarkable development that showcases the country’s rising capabilities in research and development. Supercomputers are the tools that provide protein folding in biology, financial trading strategies on Wall Street, weather modeling and forecasting, and data needed for oil well drilling, to name but a few of their practical applications. And Chinese firms are advancing with these applications, filing more patent applications at home than ever before, and also filing in Europe and the United States.

What does this mean for the global economy? The news is full of headlines and stories about the need to rebalance the world economy by having China’s currency appreciate and stimulating greater domestic consumption of Chinese goods and services. The best way to understand the supercomputer development is as a rebalancing of global science and technology activity, one that is already well underway. New infrastructure, expanding universities and growing national research laboratories will all help attract the best and the brightest young minds from around the globe to China. This new balance of science and technology is a leading indicator of a new balance of economic activity. China’s economy is not simply rising in the short term; the R&D investments being made today will enable it to grow a long way further.

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Source: Henry Chesrough | Forbes
Photo: Forbes