The United States still has a large lead over China, but if the current sad state of affairs with respect to education and research continues here in the US, it's only a matter of time before China catches up.
When Andrew Chi-chih Yao, a Princeton professor who is recognized as one of the United States' top computer scientists, was approached by Qinghua University in Beijing last year to lead an advanced computer studies program, he did not hesitate.
[JIH - Andrew Chi-chih Yao won the Turing Award in 2000]
China has already pulled off one of the most remarkable expansions of education in modern times, increasing the number of undergraduates and people who hold doctoral degrees fivefold in 10 years.
In only a generation, China has sharply increased the proportion of its college-age population in higher education, to roughly 20 percent now from 1.4 percent in 1978. In engineering alone, China is producing 442,000 new undergraduates a year, along with 48,000 graduates with masters' degrees and 8,000 Ph.D's.