COVID-19: Impact on China’s science policy

Stuart Finlayson

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, global science and policy communities are in flux. What does this mean for China’s science policy and funding? Or its international research partnerships?

One organisation that has been closely monitoring and reporting on Beijing’s policy trajectory for the last decade is now a go-to resource in the current uncertainty.

Beijing-based China Policy services governments, multilateral agencies, research organisations, universities and multinational corporations, tracking and mapping China’s policy trajectory across major sectors.

China Policy managing director, Philippa Jones

Issue #3 of its new quarterly science series, China’s science and innovation horizon: upended by COVID-19, appeared last week.

“The impact on the science and technology communities, already buffeted by the trade-tech war with the US, will be game-changing,” says China Policy managing director Philippa Jones.

Indeed, the brief kicks off by saying:

“Emerging as victor from COVID-19 would, at immeasurable cost, showcase China’s tech-powered solutions. That effort is reframing goals for science research, industrial upgrading and global tech leadership.”

The 50-page brief tracks where the money is going, laying out pathways for analysing just how this shock to China’s massive research system will play out.

It also covers related tech developments across agriculture, energy and environment fuelled by China’s science and innovation revolution.

“We are publishing this as a quarterly”, Ms Jones explains, “because it aims to build an informed and nuanced view of China among senior management – people needing granular understanding, but are time poor,” Ms Jones said.

“Responsible for their organisations’ long-term strategic planning, they need to be on top of Science and Technology (S&T) and innovation shifts in China.”

“Constantly updating our website and aggregating shorter reports, we keep desk staff up-to-date as well.”

Covering China’s science involves more than the science itself. The China Policy team of experts and analysts puts the science imperative in its economic, social, geopolitical and trade context.

“We do what we call ‘three-dimensional monitoring’,” Ms Jones said. “As soon as a new law or regulation is announced, we track the top commentators and identify the agencies mentioned in reports.

“We then look upstream at what these writers and agencies work on, yielding the extra dimensions of policy in the pipeline.

“Not needing to shield policy development from an opposition party means that early-stage thinking is often available online in China, unlike in multi-party states. Hence our reporting is often ahead of the news media.”

With a strong track record in commissioned research, China Policy is now engaged by the UK government to evaluate how China is developing ‘tech-for-good’, in areas such as green energy, education, healthcare and the environment.

“What we strive for is to help organisations grasp China’s unique viewpoint, how it sees and plans for its world,” Ms Jones said.

“Respectfully neutral on China’s official positions, we tell a different story from the Western media as well. We’re not event-driven, we’re policy-driven”.

Copies of the report can be purchased from China Policy. Please contact for more information.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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