Chart of the Week March 26, 2021: Innovation as the Driver of Modernisation in China


China’s 14th Five-Year Plan outlined innovation as the driver of modernisation. Under the National Big Data Strategy, data has become an important factor of production. Additionally, the investment in R&D has led to tremendous development in China’s digital economy. This week’s chart uses data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology to highlight the role of data and R&D expenditure in China’s modernisation.  


  • Over the past decade, China’s R&D expenditure to GDP ratio has demonstrated an increasing trend, reaching 2.23% in 2019, 0.09 percentage point higher than the value in 2018. In absolute terms, the R&D expenditure has increased by 247 billion Yuan over the two years. 
  • According to National Development and Reform Commission, from 2018 to 2025, China’s data possession will increase from 7.5 ZB to 48.6 ZB, which will be 27.8% of the data globally. 1 
  • In 2019, as a core component of growth engine, China’s digital economy contributed to 36.2% of GDP, reaching 35.8 trillion Yuan. 
  • In 2019, 20.7% of the wholesale and retail is from online, amounting at RMB 8.5 trillion. The year on year growth rate is 19.5%. Mobile transaction and payment have also grown 67.57% and 25.13% respectively.2 

Article By ZHANG, Xuyao

Graphic By Shu En LEE

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