The Security Environment and China’s Strategy for Technological Advancement: Between Technological Dependence and Technological Autonomy

38 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2020

See all articles by Qixuan Huang

Qixuan Huang

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Jim Huangnan Shen

Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

Date Written: February 4, 2020

Abstract

China’s strategy for technological advancement since 1949 can be divided into four distinct phases, alternating between technological dependence and technological autonomy. Why does China pursue technological autonomy in some periods but adopt technological dependence in others? This paper argues that when the security environment intensifies, the strategy of technological autonomy prevails. In contrast, when China’ security environment relaxes, it is inclined to adopt technological dependence as the alternative strategy. Although the anarchic nature of the international system compels the state to pursue technological autonomy, the relaxed security environment makes the strategy of technological dependence possible. By examining the four phases, from the “lean to one side” of the 1950s, and “fighting with both fists” in the 1960s, to the “open door” and the post-Cold War era, this paper seeks to demonstrate how the security environment has reshaped China’s technological strategy, including the First Five Year Plan, the Third Front construction, the technology transfer in the 1980s and the launching of “indigenous innovation”. To this end, it is necessary to investigate the security environment.

Keywords: Security Environment; Technological Strategy; Technological Dependence; Technological Autonomy; China-U.S. Relations; China-Soviet Relations

JEL Classification: O21, O31, O34

Suggested Citation

Huang, Qixuan and Shen, Jim Huangnan, The Security Environment and China’s Strategy for Technological Advancement: Between Technological Dependence and Technological Autonomy (February 4, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3531799 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3531799

Qixuan Huang

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

KoGuan Law School
Shanghai 200030, Shanghai 200052
China

Jim Huangnan Shen (Contact Author)

Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University ( email )

One Eliot Street Building
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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