The paper compares the results and process of reforming the scientific sphere in China and Russia. In today’s society science has become the most important strategic resource for global competition and national security. The recent achievements of China in the development of its scientific sphere (taking into account its size and low «starting» level) provoke increasing attention to the Chinese tactics and strategy in this field, to the stages and specifics of the road the country travelled. These are of particular interest to Russia, which is still searching for a national model of its scientific and innovation system, especially since science in China was originally built on the Soviet model. The methodological tools of this study are those of statistical analysis and comparative approach. The text draws on international and national (Russian and Chinese) official statistics as well as scientific publications on various aspects of the scientific spheres in China and Russia. The author states that Russia now largely repeats the Chinese experience. But the results of transformations in Russian science and education are quite contradictory. Obviously, the main «lesson» of China is still to be learnt in our country – namely, even the most advanced foreign experience should not just be copied but adapted to internal conditions and tasks. Moreover, the future of the country fringes directly on the policies aimed at developing scientific institutions and building an effective national innovation system. In this respect, the article propose concrete ideas about improving the organization and management of the domestic scientific complex and the scientific sphere as a whole.