While there have been one or two questions about academic ethics in China recently, there is no question that there are a lot of clever academics – and that they are busy.
In a meeting the other day I spoke to someone who had been tasked with selecting some academic papers for a big international technology conference in China. He was astounded to find that over 6,000 papers were submitted (in contrast, about 100 might be expected at a European event), and that most were of very high quality, requiring very specific expertise on behalf of reviewers.
He also commented on the fact that, at some universities in the UK, 30 to 50 percent of applicants in technical subjects were coming from China. All this is further anecdotal evidence that China’s strategy to climb the value chain is being implemented in practice – in China and overseas.
While I expect that China’s increasing capabilities in R&D and technology will be a positive thing overall, I fear that it may also lead to more protectionist pressures in the US and EU. A better response may be to take a long-term view, make some tough strategic decisions, and increase spending on education – even in the difficult, technical subjects that so many people avoid in case their grades suffer!