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Putting China in perspective: a comparative exploration of the ascent of the Chinese knowledge economy

Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés and Wilkie, Callum (2016) Putting China in perspective: a comparative exploration of the ascent of the Chinese knowledge economy. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 9 (3). pp. 479-497. ISSN 1752-1378

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Identification Number: 10.1093/cjres/rsw018


This article traces the ascent of China from knowledge economy laggard to world leader over the last two decades, using a comparative perspective. Chinese trends in R&D and patenting are compared to those of the countries of the ‘triad’ (the European Union, Japan and the US), as well as to those of other large emerging economies (Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa). The analysis demonstrates how both in innovation inputs and outputs China reflects an innovation reality closer to that of the most developed areas of the world than to that of other emerging countries. However, the rapid ascent of Chinese innovation has generated a distinct set of territorial dynamics, with innovation much more geographically concentrated than elsewhere in the world and more reliant on agglomeration forces than on more traditional ‘innovative’ drivers. Such a distinct geography of innovation may have until now facilitated the innovation surge in China, but poses serious future risks in terms of the sustainability of the system.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Authors
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 10:58
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2017 13:26

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