By Oliver Tang
Although it may be hard for us Americans to come in term with this, China has been a rising leader in the world in both science and technology. With that said, China has become a global powerhouse in research and development. But how did China get to where it is today? It was certainly a wakeup call in 2010 when ABC News found that while the US ranked 25th out of all the OECD nations in education, China and particularly Shanghai rank number 1. Naturally, the fact that China is a rapidly developing and industrializing nation also helps explain this, with the IMS stating that China is projected to increase its research spending by 16% over the next 5 years. Or maybe, it’s just the fact that without the strict, watchful eyes of our FDA, China’s lax regulations, which have reduced the cost of clinical trials by around 90%, have made more risky (yet successful) innovations possible. But what does all this entail to the United States?
First, expect to see some important medical advancements in the future. Again with its low clinical costs and low regulatory environment, Chinese medical researchers have flourished and found surprising solutions to some of our most fatal diseases. The gene modification Gendicine is a very interesting example. As Bloomberg puts it, “the gene prompts tumor cells to commit suicide.” Once a $20 facility construction project off of Shenzhen is finalized, 18 million doses of this potential cancer miracle drug can be produced annually. Dody Mautista of the MP Research Group notes that this therapy is actually 2.5 times more effective than our current method of chemotherapy. She notes that 16,000 global patients have come to China to receive this therapy and as of 3 years, most have not experienced any harmful side effects. Wellness Without Drugs notes that most of these 16,000 people are “rich Western patients seeking innovative and unconventional methods for cancer treatment”. The benefits don’t stop there, with Novo Nordisk investing in the rapidly expanding Chinese market, stating that doing so will allow it to produce enough diabetic treatment for 300,000 more people. The future is bright.
Next, let’s take a look at agriculture. Obviously, China has taken a special interest with this development because a rapidly growing population means more mouths to feed. China has looked to the US as a potential partner for this research, with the Department of Agriculture reporting that the “US and China have signed a five-year accord to cooperate on agricultural production and security.” The China Information Center reports clear progress being made, with improvements in more than 40 crops and nearly 5000 strong, high-yield, resistant, new crop varieties being created. Obviously, both of these developments are helping agriculture and our farmers back in America and indeed, our agricultural production has increased 20% since we started working with China. This agricultural benefit has materialized into huge price reductions for average American families, as Crop Life America finds that this increased yield has actually cut the annual average grocery bill of a family by 40%. We can all look forward to less spending on our groceries as American and Chinese scientists continue to make more developments.
Finally, let’s touch upon energy and our ambitious Smart Grid project. The Smart Grid may seem no different than our current power grid; it possesses sensors and technology, which are placed in the grid to allow for monitoring and remote control of energy usage as well as remote repair of flaws in the grid. Overall, this allows for increased energy efficiency. In fact, the National Energy Technology Laboratory finds that this technology will save us 28 billion kilowatts of energy annually. The US Department of Energy finds that this amounts to 480 billion less CO2 emissions per year, virtually eliminating China’s carbon footprint. Although this system is considerably established in China, agreements like the US-China Energy Cooperation Program has China aiding companies like General Electric to establish this in America. With this agreement, China gains exclusive technology rights and agreements with the US and sets up its role as the future distributor of this Smart Grid technology. China has proven itself so eager to do this that it contributes on average 4 times more than America to this project. Because America is spending so little but is expected gain such a large benefit through energy efficiency, the Electric Power Research Institute finds that we will come out of the project $1.5 trillion richer from savings in energy efficiency. In terms of renewable energy, Keith Bradsher of the NY Times reports that China now makes up 80% of the global production and distribution of renewable energy and investment in the US market has “increased 130% annually”. The implication here is that while China may contribute greatly to rising global CO2 emissions, it is also working with new technologies to find a sustainable source of renewable energy.
In retrospect, with both parties benefitting, the US and China have established countless relationships that have advanced our medical, agricultural, and energy sectors. While rising China gives us the brainpower and innovation, we as the US are able to offer China our expansive market and modernized technology. It’s a mutualistic relationship and something we should look forward to in the future. But is the US wrong in any way with being complacent with and even aiding China essentially taking its role as the global leader in research and development? While the answer to this question is debatable, the future of the Sino-American relationship looks bright.