China's International Science and Technology Relations: From Passive to pro-Active Player

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
CLM.3.04 (Clement House)
Denis Simon, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
It is clear that China has benefited tremendously from the impact of globalization, including the increased unencumbered movement of information, ideas, and people across borders.  Numerous questions remain, however, as to the future character of China's participation in international S&T affairs, particularly in terms of the role China will play in shaping the agendas and discussions about the key global S&T-driven issues of the 21st century: clean energy, global health, food security, and climate change. This paper documents and analyzes China’s rapidly evolving international S&T relations – its cooperation, collaboration, and occasionally adversarial relations with its neighbors in Japan, Korea, as well as with the West.

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.