Structures, Processes, and Leadership of the Chinese Science and Technology System

Surprisingly little is known of how the Chinese civilian and defense S&T systems are organized and managed, especially for the execution of major projects.
Much of the current published literature and knowledge offer scattered and general descriptions and organizational outlines of a handful of government and military agencies involved in S&T activities. There has been no detailed, systematic, and comprehensive study of how the civilian and defense S&T systems are organized, how they evolved, their formal and informal mechanisms of decision making and coordination, the extent that institutionalization of decision-making authority has taken place, or who the key civilian, military and defense industrial S&T personalities, power-brokers, and scientific advisers are.
More specifically, there are some prominent but shadowy policymaking and coordination organizations that have been overlooked in the examination of the S&T system, such as the State Council Leading Group on Science, Technology & Education and the Central Special Commission.
Our gap in understanding these institutions and how the S&T apparatus is led, organized, and decides on key issues represents a serious deficit in our broader ability to chart the long-term development of the Chinese S&T system.

Research Agenda

  1. A comprehensive and detailed examination of the organizational make-up and decision-making processes of the civilian and defense S&T systems both in the Maoist (1950s–1970s) and reform (post-1978) eras
  2. Case studies of key entities such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, the PLA’s General Armament Department, the Ministry of Industry and Informatization, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (successor to the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense), State Council Leading Group on Science, Technology & Education, the Central Special Commission, and important S&T organizations such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering;
  3. Investigating the identities and generational characteristics of the current and upcoming generations of S&T key decision-makers, scientists, engineers, and weaponeers

Project Leads

Tai Ming Cheung
Alice Miller