Historical Influences on Contemporary Chinese Grand Strategic Thinking on Science and Technology

The contemporary Chinese leadership sees science and technology as the key determinant of modern national power. This is sometimes described as a 'techno-nationalist' ideology.
Leaders such as Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao have heralded science and technology as the leading driver of economic strength in the twenty-first century. This has led Beijing to invest tremendous resources toward consolidating and strengthening China’s scientific community.
This project seeks to understand the dilemmas, debates, and approaches undertaken in different periods of Chinese history—imperial, Republican, and Communist—to illuminate the foundations of contemporary Chinese grand strategy and the relationship of technological development to national security. Examining these historical roots can provide important insights into the long-term arc of China’s technological rise.

Research Questions

  1. What are the historical roots of China’s techno-nationalist outlook?
  2. How has this techno-nationalist outlook shaped Beijing’s grand strategy?
  3. Is there a distinctively Chinese strategic culture towards the relationship between national security and technology?
  4. Do China’s political traditions and authoritarian politics constrain Chinese technological innovation?
  5. Do contemporary debates about indigenous innovation echo historical controversies over these issues?

Project Leads

Alice Miller
Tai Ming Cheung