Although China had had a great history of science and technology, it had fallen far behind the West by 18th century. In 1900, China had no modern science and technology at all - fewer than 10 people in all of China understood calculus. Now, in the early 21st century, the gap in high-technology research and development between China and the world's advanced countries has visibly shrunk; 60 percent of technologies, including atomic energy, space, high-energy physics, biology, computer and information technology, have reached or are close to the world advanced level. On October 15, 2003, the successful launch of the "Shenzhou V" manned spacecraft made China the third country to master manned spaceflight technology. According to the Moon Probe Project started in February 2004, China will launch unmanned probes to the moon before 2010, and gather moon soil samples before 2020.
According to a national plan, by 2005 China should be in the world's advanced ranks in certain fields, attaining or approaching the front rank in some important scientific and strategic hi-tech fields; expenditure for developing experimental and research science will increase to over 1.5 percent of GDP; by 2010 a preliminary national innovation system will be established, the building of basic science and technology conditions will be obvious, national key bases for scientific research will reach the world advanced level, China's innovation ability in key fields will soar, and expenditure for developing experimental and research science will reach two percent of GDP; by 2020, a relatively complete national innovation system will be in place, expenditure for developing experimental and research science will account for three percent of GDP, and China's competitiveness in science and technology will step up to the world's first rank.