With a population of 1.3 billion and an economy close to overtaking Japan’s as the second biggest in the world, China seems set to become a front-rank nation in physics. Although its expenditure on science remains lower than that of the US and the EU, both in absolute terms and per capita, it’s catching up quickly. According to a recent report from the US National Science Board, China has already surpassed the US in the number of researchers (see the story on page 30 of this issue). 2
Indeed, the prospects for physics in China could depend on how it makes use of its greatest resource, its people. And in that respect, the challenges that lie ahead for China are not so much in funding but in creating an intellectual climate in which imagination and ingenuity, not just hard work and skill, can develop and flourish.