Donald Trump wants to take on "Made in China'' to bring jobs back to America. But the battle is already becoming one of ideas as the Factory to the World ramps up research-and-development spending to become an innovator as well as assembler.
China will overtake the U.S. in spending on R&D by 2020 on a purchasing power parity basis, according to analysts from Credit Suisse Group AG. That'll help China shift from investment-driven to knowledge-intensive growth as its labor force shrinks.
China's R&D spending in 2015 of 1.4 trillion yuan (US$205 billion) more than doubled since 2009.
As a proportion of gross domestic product, it climbed to 2.1% from 1.7% six years earlier.
In the process, the nation "leapfrogged" other countries in technology development, said Vincent Chan, head of China macro research at Credit Suisse.
"China has transformed from an adapter and produced many of today's global leaders in the sector," according to Chan.
Genetics and stem cell research, the internet of things, new energy vehicles, big data and artificial intelligence are sectors where China will play a leading global role, according to Credit Suisse.
That raises the prospect that in the not-too-distant future, it'll be U.S. companies seeking to emulate Chinese innovations, rather than the other way around.