China has overtaken Belgium on a global innovation index to reach 17th out of 40 countries as it begins work on a new internet security institute to train people in how to keep the internet safe, which could contradict the effort to make China a center of innovation.

The index is researched by the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED) which is run by the state. It measures various aspects such as R&D spending, number of citations of a country’s research and patents applied for. In first place is the US followed by Japan, Switzerland, South Korea and Denmark to make up the top five. Singapore in 9th place was the only other Asian nation in the top twenty.

China has excelled in patents and citations; its R&D spending now makes up 15.6% of the world total up from 1.7% in 2000, allowing the country to squeeze past Belgium to take 17th place and is the only developing country in the top 20 and aims to climb to 15th by the end of the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020). State media also announced that construction began Wednesday on an internet security training institute in Hubei.

Breakdown of global R&D spending in 2000 and 2016 (Image credit: CASTED)
Breakdown of global R&D spending in 2000 and 2016 (Image credit: CASTED)

The 100-hectare development in the Wuhan Airport Economic Zone will cost RMB 5 billion ($751 million). When it opens in June 2019, it will be able to train 10,000 people. While it is not exactly clear in exactly what, it has been set up by the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs. The plan is that by 2027, China will have between four and six international-standard internet security institutes to keep the country safe.

Feng Huamin, vice president of Beijing Electronic Science and Technology Institute, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that back in 2014, 700,000 staff were needed in key industry information systems and infrastructure and this number is expected to double by 2020.

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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