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The China question: managing risks and maximising benefits from partnership in higher education and research

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Research collaboration between China and the UK has increased significantly in recent decades, underscoring the need for robust measures to manage the relationship between the two countries, according to this study, led by former universities minister Jo Johnson.  

In 2019, China and the UK collaborated on 16,267 research papers – up from around 750 in 2000. This amounts to around 11 per cent of the UK’s research output now including Chinese authors – up from just 1 per cent 20 years ago, as indexed in the Web of ScienceTM global citation index.

And more than a fifth of research in many high-impact subjects, including those related to science and technology, involves collaboration with China.

On its current trajectory, China is set to overtake the US as both the world’s biggest spender on R&D and the UK’s most significant research partner.

Published with the Harvard Kennedy School, the report builds a picture of Chinese integration in UK higher education and research and argues this raises pressing questions for policymakers at a time of rising geopolitical tensions.