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Is China Set to Be An Engineering Superpower?

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 7, Jan 2019
3 min read

For decades China has been fostering a culture of engineering to propel the country’s economy. While the UK is suffering a drastic shortage of engineers, China has been steadily building the next generation of infrastructure, innovating new technology, and going to the moon.

All this points to the possibility of China attempting to perpetuate itself as a global superpower. A 'superpower' is a country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world due to political or military power. According to some historians and theorists, currently the only superpower in the world is America, however this is disputed. By many economist’s standards, China is already an economic superpower. But how will it become an engineering one?

How China Is Driving Engineering Forward

China is spending more on research and development than any country except the USA, and this is being seen in the large community of scientists and engineers that live and work there. Almost all of them work in some capacity for The Chinese Academy Of Sciences, which even oversees three leading higher education institutions. There are more students studying STEM subjects in China than anywhere else in the world.

China is pioneering research into some of the most exciting area of modern science, including quantum engineering, neuroscience, and spaceflight. All of this is encouraged by the very top level of the Chinese government, who see scientific leadership as a path of to economic and societal prosperity.

It’s clearly working, China is home to several companies big enough to rival the US giants of Apple and Google: Alibaba is the largest e-commerce business in the world, and is planning on investing $15 billion in international research labs. But which areas are most promising for China’s rise to superpower status?

Areas China Is Set To Dominate:

Artificial Intelligence

The Chinese government has declared its aim to be a world leader in AI by 2030, and both the government and private businesses are investing massive amounts of money to meet this goal. AI is predicted to add $15.7 trillion to the global GDP by 2030, with $7 trillion of that being China’s. In 2017, China accounted for 48% of the world’s funding for AI start ups.

China is uniquely poised to become an AI superpower thanks to a convergence of all the factors needed to dominate the field: abundant data, the latest technology, high levels of investment, and growing AI expertise. AI giant Tencent gathers all its user’s data in one place, making its far more beneficial for AI learning.


Superconductors are used in different technologies that are vital to the smooth running of modern society. China was once spending more on importing them than on oil, so has invested $150 billion on developing their own superconductor manufacturing sector. They now have a robust industry of manufacture, as well as having encouraged other companies to set up offices and factories in China.


The world’s largest sea bridge is the result of Chinese ingenuity, determination, and engineering prowess. Spanning 55 kilometres and having taken seven years to build, Chinese engineers had to create four artificial islands to support the structure. The entire project cost $20 billion, and even goes underwater for some of the journey. A towering achievement, the bridge is a symbol of how China is developing faster and smarter.

With so much engineering talent being cultivated in China, as well as being attractive to engineers from abroad, it’s clear that China is one of the most promising hubs for technology development.

Read about how engineering will change the world, or learn about how engineering will have changed by 2050.

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