China's International Science and Technology Relations: From Passive to pro-Active Player
Since the announcement of the S&T modernization program in the late 1970s, China's leadership has believed that international engagement is an important vehicle to help the Chinese S&T system catch up with the West. As a result, the Chinese government has signed a broad range of bilateral and multilateral S&T cooperation agreements with the world's leading nations. Under these government-to-government bilateral arrangements, numerous scientists and engineers have entered into collaborative agreements with their counterparts abroad. Starting in the 1990s, however, China has greatly expanded its international S&T engagements; more and more activities are now occurring outside the government bilateral accords and now include a rapidly expanding number of university-to-university ties, corporate linkages, and cooperation with think tanks. Most recently, China's provincial and local S&T organizations have also become increasingly involved in orchestrating overseas S&T ties; many Chinese provinces and municipalities are leading the charge to find new, dynamic international S&T cooperation partnerships.
How effectively are these relations playing out? How have they shifted as a result of the strengthening of China's own S&T capabilities? In addition to looking at a select array of specific governmental relationships, I examine the role of technology imports in supporting China's S&T advance, examining the PRC leadership’s growing concern about the country's continued high degree of dependence on foreign know-how to drive its economic development. This paper also analyzes the growing presence of foreign R&D centers in China, which now number over 1,300, as well as the emergence of Chinese global firms and their efforts to extend domestic R&D centers in addition to “listening posts” abroad.