China rises as powerhouse of innovation
2017-11-06, FU JING

Out of 137 economies surveyed worldwide, the Chinese mainland ranked 27th in terms of overall competitiveness, while in innovation it is “on par or even better than many advanced economies”, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum said on Sept 27.

The Chinese mainland was listed between South Korea and Iceland in the annual ranking based on factors contributing to productivity and prosperity, according to a report released by the forum.

The mainland ranked highest among the BRICS group of five emerging markets — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — and moved up to 27th, one place higher than in last year’s assessment.

Switzerland ranked as the world’s most competitive economy, narrowly ahead of the United States and Singapore. Hong Kong moved up three spots to sixth place as Japan dropped one place to ninth.

The authors of this year’s report examined data back to 2007. They said that 10 years after the global financial crisis, many economies remain ill-prepared for the next wave of innovation and automation.

David Aikman, chief representative of the World Economic Forum’s China operation, said on Sept 27 that the most important development in the past decade has been the mainland’s emergence as an innovation powerhouse.

“Various indicators suggest its innovation capacity is now on par or even better than that of many advanced economies. More generally, we observe that the country’s innovation ecosystem has improved significantly,” Aikman said.

He also said Chinese companies are becoming much more sophisticated and are rapidly moving up the value chain, while at the turn of the century most exporting companies were merely suppliers of basic manufactured goods.

China has made “steep progress” in innovation and in science and technology in recent years, underpinned by educational strides, said Reinhilde Veugelers, a professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: “Countries preparing for the fourth industrial revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future.”

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