If anyone still needs convincing on the speed with which China is ascending as a world science and technology (S&T) leader, the latest edition of Science and Engineering Indicators, the biennial encyclopedia of statistics assembled by the National Science Board (NSB), should suffice.

Whether measured by the numbers and growth rates of its science and engineering workforce, the volume of S&E graduate degrees awarded, the double-digit growth rates in expenditures on R&D, or the share of the world’s high-technology exports, China has made impressive gains over the past decade or so, as S&E Indicators attests. Take, for example, the number of S&E doctorates awarded annually in the nation, which rocketed from 1900 in 1993 to 23 000 in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available. (For a look at physics in China, see the article on page 33 of this issue.)

More stunning, perhaps, has been...

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