Just sit still while others move ahead. From the current American Society for Cell Biology newsletter:
Cell biology in China is growing, and if the Chinese Society for Cell Biology (CSCB) can be considered "Exhibit A," the proof is strong indeed: CSCB now has nearly 3,000 members working at more than 200 universities and 40 institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences...
Government funding for research has risen dramatically in the last decade, as the Chinese economy has developed rapidly. From 1995 to 2004, Chinese science research funding increased from 0.6% to 1.23% of the gross domestic product. In 2006 the percentage rose to 1.4% (300 billion RMB Yuan, which is 22% higher than in 2005).
Given the pace of growth of the Chinese economy, that increase in the R&D-to-GDP ratio is amazing. And China is not alone. An NSF report last month says China, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea are all growing faster than the US:
From 1991 to 1995, R&D in Asia grew at a much faster annual rate (7.9%) than in the EU (3.4%) and in the United States (3.3%). After 1995, growth accelerated in Asia to an annual average of 8.7%, exceeding that of the EU (5.4%) and the 6.0% U.S. average. China's annual rate of R&D growth from 1995 to 2003 (20%) exceeded that of all these other R&D performers, followed by Singapore's at 15%. Growth in Taiwan averaged 10% and in South Korea 7%
The Asian stars are also increasing their publication rate faster than the US. And they have been growing their pool of post-graduate-educated workers faster than the US. There are well over 3 million Chinese workers involved in science and technology research.
The rise of Asian research is fantastic for global science, and will give these growing countries a strong engine for continued economic growth. Unfortunately for us, it also means the US high-tech trade balance has turned negative. The good news is that we have a huge advantage in the American scientific infrastructure that's been built over the second half of the last century. If we spend money here instead of on foreign adventures, we will continue to lead. If not, not.