Over the past few decades, the rising economic power of China has led to the expansion of its indigenous science and technology capacity. However, the key characteristics and patterns of the Chinese catch-up process have been mainly explained based on patenting activities that only reflect the progress of technological capabilities accumulation. Therefore, this paper seeks to expand the conventional understanding of China's technological upgrading based on the flying geese model by analyzing scientific knowledge production using hierarchical cluster analysis and examination of the similarities and differences between Chinese and latecomers' scientific patterns. The results show that China has reached the same level of scientific publication capacity as Japan and Korea since 2006, and has recently overtaken Japan to become the biggest scientific powerhouse in the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, during the catch-up period, China's scientific portfolio demonstrates a combination of features that resemble both Korean and Taiwanese attributes. These findings partially contradict the traditional flying geese model and point out additional interpretations of the convergence and divergence of developmental paths among advanced countries and less developed nations. The study contributes to the theory of technological dominance in East Asia and to the understanding of China's dominant role in knowledge production worldwide. Several implications and directions for future research regarding scientific advancement in emerging economies are discussed.