For a particularly egregious example, consider the most notable Chinese scientific first of 2018.
He Jiankui looked like the model of a modern Chinese scientist.
He was educated at the University of Science and Technology of China () in Hefei.
He went on to equally prestigious American universities, Rice and Stanford.
It is doing so in the context of the subsequent high-technology era in which no American university feels complete without a symbiotic microbiome of venture capitalists pullulating across its skin.
The economic benefits of research have increasingly come to be seen as a possible boon to the researcher, as well as to society at large.As one Weibo user put it after grew tenfold between 20 (see chart 1). China has imported ideas and approaches more than people and ideals.This open chequebook has bought a lot of glitzy kit. The resultant set-up has the ricketiness often seen in structures ordained from the top down rather than built from the bottom up., the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, which opened in 2016.It is a long way from landing on the Moon to mining it. Measured against that boom—one of the most impressive periods of scientific achievement in human history—China’s new hardware, grand as it often is, falls a bit short. America’s science boom had a firm institutional and ideological foundation.But it is not uncommon to hear speculation about such things. It grew out of the great research universities that came into their own in the first half of the 20th century, and whose intellectual freedom had attracted extraordinary talents threatened by regimes elsewhere, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and indeed Theodore von Kármán, the Hungarian-born aeronautical engineer in whose honour ’s new home is named.They want new clean-energy sources and freedom from resource constraints. Benefiting from the biggest and best-educated native generations ever produced, they also welcomed in the brightest from around the world.And the country’s ever greater scientific proficiency makes such ambitions look realisable. And they did so in a culture dedicated to free inquiry, one keenly differentiated from the communist culture of the Soviet bloc. And far from benefiting from a culture of free inquiry, Chinese science takes place under the beady eye of a Communist Party and government which want the fruits of science but are not always comfortable about the untrammelled flow of information and the spirit of doubt and critical scepticism from which they normally grow.China’s leaders see such advances as crucial not just to their economy, but also to expanded military prowess and social progress. Tick (erased when America regained its lead, but watch this space). Over those 40 years America—and, to a lesser extent, Europe—were doing things that had never been done before.They want the sort of science that will help China project its power and respond to its people’s particular problems. Climate researchers drilling cores deep into the Antarctic icecap? They opened up whole new fields of knowledge such as high-energy astrophysics and molecular biology.That project was editing the of embryos that would then grow up into human beings. The He affair could have taken place in many places, and it is hardly representative of the broad swathe of China’s researchers; 122 of them signed an open letter denouncing his actions.At the same time it is not at all surprising that the He affair took place in China.