China has supplanted the US as the world’s top contributor to natural science research published in the 82 high-quality research journals that the Nature Index tracks. As a fractional count of author affiliations in these publications, researchers from China had a share of more than 19,300 from January to December 2022, compared with about 17,600 for those from the US. China’s share of global research publications has increased significantly since the Nature Index was introduced in 2014, and became the top country in the physical sciences and chemistry in 2021.

Last year, new analysis based on the Web of Science database showed that China surpassed the US as the world’s leading producer of the highest-impact scientific research. It showed that in 2019 China had overtaken the US in participation in top scientific studies, after passing the EU by this measure in 2015. Meanwhile, China had already trumped the US in terms of total global number of scientific and engineering articles in 2018. Back in December 2019, the Nature Index ranking revealed that China had overtaken the US to become the biggest producer of high quality chemistry research.

More recently, in March 2023, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute issued a report warning that China has a ‘stunning lead’ over the US and other nations in high-impact research across most critical and emerging technologies. The organisation found that for some technologies the world’s top 10 leading research institutions are all based in China and are collectively generating nine times more high-impact research papers than the second-ranked country, which is most often the US.