Yes, China is increasing its scientific enterprise in terms of people and research output. And while the relative quality of that research is likely improving to the level found in more established research systems, there appears to be at least one significant impediment to that improvement.
Nature News reports on another instance of corruption affecting Chinese scientific research. This time its the misuse of over $4 million U.S. awarded to five research universities. Seven scientists were named, and six are currently detained. Two of those six have already started prison terms.
(For what it’s worth, even though it’s Chinese prison, I’m sympathetic to this level of punishment for the kinds of misconduct involved here.)
I suffer no illusion that other research systems are perfect. But the kinds of scientific misconduct in other countries do not raise to the level I’ve seen reported in China. Hopefully that will change, but in the meantime, I think it is something that should be part of any thorough analysis of the value in research, regardless of country.