China is a member of the WTO and is the world’s largest trading power, with a total international trade value of US$3.87 trillion in 2012.Its foreign exchange reserves reached US$2.85 trillion by the end of 2010, an increase of 18.7% over the previous year, making its reserves by far the world’s largest. In 2012, China was the world’s largest recipient of inward foreign direct investment (FDI), attracting $253 billion. China also invests abroad, with a total outward FDI of $62.4 billion in 2012, and a number of major takeovers of foreign firms by Chinese companies. In 2009, China owned an estimated $1.6 trillion of US securities, and was also the largest foreign holder of US public debt, owning over $1.16 trillion in US Treasury bonds. China’s undervalued exchange rate has caused friction with other major economies, and it has also been widely criticized for manufacturing large quantities of counterfeit goods. According to consulting firm McKinsey, total outstanding debt in China increased from $7.4 trillion in 2007 to $28.2 trillion in 2014, which reflects 228% of China’s GDP, a percentage higher than that of some G20 nations.
Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, China has made significant investments in scientific research, with $163 billion spent on scientific research and development (R&D) in 2012. Science and technology are seen as vital for achieving China’s economic and political goals, and are held as a source of national pride to a degree sometimes described as “techno-nationalism”. Despite the increase in research and development spending, the funding system is still not transparent and the proportion of the research budget being spent on basic and applied research is shrinking. In 2011, China devoted 4.7 percent and 11.8 percent of its total R&D budget to basic and applied research respectively, a significantly lower percentage than leading technological powers such as the U.S. and Japan. While Chinese-born scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Physics four times and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry once, these scientists all earned their doctorates and conducted their award-winning research in the West.