China has rocketed back into the top ranks of scientific research by being free from the social and legal hindrances common in the West and due to its investment of billions of dollars. Nearly every Chinese ministry boasts a program to gain a technological lead of some sort, and in May a Chinese supercomputer was named the second fastest machine in the world at an international conference in Germany. China also is only second to the United States in the number of research articles published in scientific and technical journals worldwide. Many top Chinese scientific institutes appear to be insulating themselves from bureaucratic interference, which has raised ethical concerns about the research they are conducting. Among the challenges China faces is a weak innovation framework and unrealistic bureaucrat-driven mandates to produce discoveries. Another troubling fact is China’s status as the leading source of “junk” patents, while plagiarism and doctored results abound. China’s growing competitiveness is causing U.S. experts to question the practice of opening research institutions to Chinese students. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation officials also claim that China is running a large U.S.-based espionage operation to steal the country’s industrial, military, technological, and scientific secrets.
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