The TNTlog, which describes itself as “Taking The Rational View of Nanotechnologies Since 2000,” picked up our post on China’s growing nanotechnology research and, in a post entitled, “The Nanotech Dragon,” pretty much pooh-poohed it — probably rightfully.
The post starts out by attributing much of the hoopla regarding Chinese nanotech in the Western media to those seeking increased nanotech funding in the US:
A guaranteed way to get attention or funding, especially from US politicians is to claim that China is ahead of, or closing the gap with the US, which is just what Robert Cresanti, undersecretary for technology at the US Department of Commerce has done with nanotech.
TNTlog concludes by saying the United States should not be terribly worried about China R&D, but much of Europe should be:
Should the US be worried? From what we see, probably not yet. However the world is changing and Chinese R&D will increase in global importance, so it is up to Europe, the US and Japan to make use of the vast resources becoming available in both China and India.
The results are perhaps more worrying for Europe, as China already spends a higher proportion of its GDP on R&D than Spain and Portugal (who prefer to spend theirs on building new buildings), Italy, and most of eastern Europe.
Earlier this year, we did a post on a newspaper interview with China Law Blog’s own Steve Dickinson, in which Steve had the following to say in response to Washington State’s governor, Christine Gregoire, talking about the need to fund education to keep up with China”:
Is China then the force to fear?
It can look that way. But looks deceive, says Steve Dickinson, who lives in northern China [actually now in Shanghai] as an international trade attorney for the Seattle firm of Harris Bricken.
‘China is much, much, much weaker than it looks,’ he said in a recent interview.
‘The West doesn’t understand China very well and, frankly, China doesn’t understand China very well,’ Dickinson said. ‘The economy has taken off in a way no one understands really what’s going on.
‘(But) it doesn’t have the financial capital; it doesn’t have the intellectual capital. And the role it’s falling into is as a low-level, low-cost manufacturing component in a worldwide system of manufacturing.’
Yet Dickinson, like Gregoire, believes sharpening Washington’s intellectual capital gives our state the best edge.
‘Our competitive advantage is our brains and our skills,’ he said. ‘We need to stay ahead on that. If we don’t fund brains and skills, we’ll get overtaken by someone. Maybe not China, but someone.’
The TNTlog post also had a fascinating graphic on the “World of R&D,” showing the number of engineers/scientists per million people and the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a percentage of GDP. Finland does the best by far, with Sweden, Japan, Denmark, and the United States trailing. China does far less well, placing fairly near the bottom. This graphic is based on this Batelle Institute study.