Don’t believe everything you read about Chinese innovation, research and development. While the headlines proclaim: “China to overtake US on science in two years” and “China seen overtaking U.S. in research“, China is still a long way behind the global competition.So says the WSJ, looking closely at patent filings in the leading countries. 95 percent of Chinese patents were filed domestically, and most made only small improvements on existing designs. The real innovation takes place at the international patent offices, especially when the three main offices in the US, Europe and Japan issue a patent or grant for the same project. There were only 473 “triadic” patent filings from China versus 14,399 from the US, 14,525 from Europe, and 13,446 from Japan. That’s only 1 percent of the global total.Another problem in Chinese innovation is corruption. It is a well-known secret, say the deans of Life Sciences at Tsinghua and Peking Universities, that “doing good research is not as important as schmoozing with powerful bureaucrats and their favorite experts”.Sustainable global leadership involves more than high profile projects and industrial catch-up on a mass scale. It requires a culture of innovation and liberty and the development of political and juridical institutions that can adjust to rapid change. (Somebody should write a book about this — oh wait! Somebody already has.) China has come an impressively long way, but the road ahead is long, and there are plenty of potholes.