Don’t look now, but Blair House has a rather important guest staying there now. That’s “Blair House” – 1651 Pennsylvania Ave. – namely the official guest house for the President of the United States, and it is currently hosting a delegation from the People’s Republic of China headed by no less than President Hu Jintao. His four-day visit to the US presumably means important face-to-face discussions with President Obama and other US business and political leaders on such topics as East Asian security, the valuation of the Renminbi, and maybe even human rights in China (and possibly in the US, too).
In the background to all this, though, is China’s growing economic power and influence. You might be surprised, but much of that actually stems from a growing Chinese superiority in certain key modern technologies, and in R&D generally, if we are to believe the “MONEY editor” of the German newsmagazine Focus, Christian Bieker, who today offers a quite informative three (Internet-)page article entitled From Dwarf to Giant. Check out the lede:
From workshop to technology mecca: China is about to have a development-leap – and is already at the top in solar energy, electric autos, and mobile telecommunications.
Keep in mind that US Defense Secretary Bill Gates actually was in China just last week, obviously on a sort of preparatory visit there, and much was made of the Chinese military using the occasion to launch the first test-flight of their latest “stealth” technology fighter, the J-20. That provided a suitable foretaste of China’s growing technical skill, but things really go much further than that. As Bieker goes on to mention:
- China is now – from the turn of the year 2010/11 – actually a net exporter of R&D to the EU;
- One-eighth of all the world’s R&D spending takes place there;
- In 2010 it overtook the US in number of patents awarded. (This raises the question of how that relates to the Middle Kingdom’s notorious laxness when it comes to observing patents and copyrights issued from the outside!)