March 11, 2015 |
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21st Century China Opinion
Barriers to Increasing Human Capital in China's Science and Technology System
From the source

Source: Reuters
Our take

The following is adapted from "The Human Dimension in Chinese Defense Science, Technology, and Innovation: An Overview" by 21st Century China Program scholar Tai Ming Cheung. It appears as part of a series of research briefs for the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, which can be found here


As China's science and technology system steadily becomes more developed, the next generations of scientists, engineers, and administrators gradually emerge through the ranks to be able to provide more choice and competition for positions and more specialization. But it is only when the pioneering first - and often the second - generations of scientists depart from office does the highly personalistic nature of the science and technology system, especially at the higher rungs, become more institutionalized. This transition gained momentum and reached a tipping point in the late 1990s as some of the key legacy science and technology (S&T) organizations were restructured or replaced by new structures, and younger generations of officials were promoted to take charge of these organizations. 


This institutional transition remains a work in progress, and personalistic practices still abound. Such dynamics are still in evidence in how projects are selected. Combined with the deeply entrenched, politicized, and patronage nature of decision-making and resource allocations, the phenomena of pet projects tied to specific leaders should not be a surprising characteristic of the Chinese system. This also happens in more advanced and transparent regimes such as the United States. The larger and more costly a project, the more senior and influential the leader championing it needs to be. Only those at the very apex of the decision-making hierarchy have the authority and influence to be able to push ahead with major initiatives. For example, the Chinese manned space program required the personal backing of Deng Xiaoping to proceed. 


Special institutional mechanisms have been put in place to utilize this concentration of authority to conduct high-priority strategic and defense S&T projects. The Central Special Committee is a prime example of a top-level organ with a small group of high-ranking leaders that was responsible for successfully managing many of the strategic weapons programs during the 1960s and 1970s. It was re-established in 1989 to carry out a similar mandate, and one of its successes is the manned space program.


The ability of the Chinese defense STI system to move from catch-up imitation to become a global frontier innovation leader will depend to a great extent on its success in cultivating a highly capable and sufficiently large human talent pool that can overcome some of the issues mentioned above. 


Field Notes from China:
Selections from
Chinese-language Media


SummaryA controversial WSJ piece by noted China expert David Shambaugh this past weekend caught the attention of China watchers. Entitled "The Coming Chinese Crackup," Shambaugh wrote, "The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think." While predictions like this have been a mainstay since the Tiananmen Square crackdown, rarely have scholars of Shambaugh's stature aired such a dire prediction. Predictably, China's nationalist newspaper, The Global Times, felt compelled to rebut Shambaugh in its Chinese-language edition. 


Excerpt from the story: "Recently he has begun fiercely criticizing China, highlighting a trend in American academia. Whether Shambaugh has recently joined the opportunists or this is a true reflection of his changed views on China in his declining years, this will all be proven to have been his 'faulty stroke' in his scholarly research. His research on China lacks depth and consistency, and in the end he cannot escape the interference of Western values or political patterns on his research. He's become as vulgar as Gordon Chang - relying on 'divining' China's future to attract the eyeballs of Western public opinion.


If David Shambaugh becomes a vanguard agitator for the 'China collapse theory', then his academic end will be a tragedy. He is obviously more enthusiastic about his internal contradictions, emotionalism and obsession with alarmist conclusions than with searching for new evidence. This has already become a matter of his scholarly work and personal integrity - not merely a question of the correctness or incorrectness of his scholarly conclusion. Most scholars live in their respective societies, and not fawning to that environment is an ever-present trial. Chinese scholars have this problem, and it seems American scholars do too. We ask David Shambaugh to conduct himself with dignity and carefully consider his views."


Source: 环球时报

What is Li Keqiang's "Internet Plus"?


SummaryAs Internet entrepreneur James Ding said in remarks made at UC San Diego last month, the Internet industry in China has done best when left alone by the Chinese government. While the Chinese state has made Internet regulation a priority over the past several years, its involvement in the sector is set to increase in the coming years, as intimated by a new plan being rolled out under the name "Internet Plus." As with anything coming from Beijing, the proof is in the implementation.


Excerpt from the story: "The notion of 'Internet Plus' highlighted by Premier Li Keqiang in his government work report last week has drawn wide attention, especially from those running the nation's most innovative firms such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and Xiaomi. The report outlined development of an 'Internet Plus' action plan to integrate mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things with modern manufacturing, to encourage the healthy development of e-commerce, industrial networks and Internet banking to help Internet companies increase their international presence. 


'Mobile Internet is like electricity. When we first had electricity in the past, earthshaking changes took place in many industries,' said Pony Ma, CEO of Internet giant Tencent. Ma, a national lawmaker attending China's ongoing parliamentary session, brought four proposals on the idea of 'Internet Plus' this year. He proposed mobile Internet be used to address social issues such as medical treatment, allocation of education resources and smog. 


In the future, the government and the market will each perform their own duties, and the government will provide better services while encouraging innovation, Pony Ma expected."


Source: 光明日报

China Talk: Interviews, Lectures and Events
"U.S.-China Economic Relationship:
Opportunities and Prospects"
At the third annual Robert F. Ellsworth Memorial Lecture, held on March 2, 2015 at the Great Hall, Robert D. Hormats, currently the vice chair of Kissinger Associates Inc. and former under secretary of state for Economic, Energy and Environmental Affairs, discussed the future of U.S.-China relations. Click on the image to launch the audio.