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October 2023 China Research Policy News

By October 28, 2023November 28th, 2023Policy News

Welcome to my monthly round-up of key Chinese research policy news that I’ve spotted during October with a few thoughts from me about why each item relevant.

Ongoing restructure of MOST

The most important news of the month is confirmation that Wang Zhigang finally steps down from his post as Minister of Science and Technology, to be replaced by Yin Hejun (formerly deputy Party secretary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences). Wang had reached retirement age and the end of his 5 year term and was due to step down in February but held on to his post – likely to support the transition and restructure of the Ministry.

Minister Yin spent his early career as a researcher at CAS, eventually becoming the institution’s vice president in 2008 before moving on to serve as MoST’s vice minister and roles in municipal  government. While in Beijing, Yin oversaw the development of Beijing’s tech hub, Zhongguancun Science Park, and therefore has much broader experience than Wang did when taking over the role.

Minister Yin’s first external meeting – less than a week after being announced as head of MoST – was with the UK’s Sir Jim McDonald, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the University of Strathclyde. Yin’s first public meeting being with a foreign visitor suggests that international cooperation is high on his priority list, and Yin has championed international exchanges in his previous positions at both MoST and CAS.

Details of the restructure itself are steadily emerging – although the slow progress this year demonstrates both the scale of the task and the extent of the negotiations going on behind closed doors. What we know so far is that:

– MEE will take over environment and ecology-related sci-tech planning

– The NHC is responsible for sci-tech policy & funding related to medicine and healthcare.

– MIIT will be taking responsibility for high-tech funding and industrial planning, and overseeing sci-tech industrial parks and zones

– NSFC will also take on some of the funding responsibilities from MoST

Notably a discipline inspection has also started work within MoST (along with several other Ministries) these are routine events, but will still serve to underscore to MoST staff the increased attention and focus on their work from the Party centre.

All that’s left now is publication of the final MoST restructure plan – and to understand the implications of this new MoST for international stakeholders.

阴和俊同志任科学技术部党组书记 -中华人民共和国科学技术部 (

Yin Hejun, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the Ministry of Science and Technology, met with Sir Jim MacDonald, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering – Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (


Launch of MoST Intl Cooperation projects

Staying with MoST, the publication today of the first batch of international cooperation joint calls makes for interesting reading. MoST-EU collaborations this round will add up to around RMB 200 million, with a further RMB 458 million at the bilateral level. Meanwhile calls are also announced with Japan, Korea, Israel and several members of BRICS including RMB 3 million for a flagship AI partnership with South Africa.

A browse through the topics of these targeted calls shows that the EU and member states are largely sticking to climate change, agriculture, energy, and health – with minor exceptions. Likewise Japan and Korea, although they also include limited support for sectors such as aerospace and an open call for any topic.

Overall it’s great to see new funding being announced in such high priority global challenges. It’s very likely that this will be the majority of new collaborative funding for the future and institutions would do well to develop their strategies accordingly.

The official MoST link is currently inaccessible but the call text can be downloaded here –

Patents and Tech Transfer Skills

Achieving tech self-sufficiency also requires making better use of the resources that have already been spent – i.e. through the archive of patents that China has filed but not commercialised. Only 6% of university research is commercialised each year in China, compared to about 50% in the US.

Partly this is because researchers are often incentivised to aim for the quantity rather than the quality of patent filings via their grant deliverables and institutional KPIs leading to salami slicing of findings and filing of often irrelevant patents. However, there is also a substantive lack of the skills required to commercialise research effectively and tech-transfer remains an underdeveloped profession across much of the sector.

A new State Council plan published this month aims to address that by undertaking a 3 year project to review the existing stock of patents and improve the overall pipeline of commercialisation skills. Outlining several responsibilities which will need to disseminate out through the system to local S&T Bureaus – however given that they will also need to restructure and have a lack of skills to deliver commercialisation, their capacity to deliver the plan is going to vary.

Publication of the plan coincided this month with the first ever national conference of tech-transfer managers. The event was hosted by the MoST Science and Technology Evaluation Centre and aims to adhere to the talent leadership drive and promote the formation of a technology transfer service system supported by compound talents. More than 90 technical managers from national science and technology authorities, scientific research institutions, universities, technology transfer institutions, enterprises and investment and financing institutions participated in the training.

If the UK’s experience is anything to go by, this will need to be first of many such events and may represent a significant revenue opportunity for organisations that specialise in tech-transfer training and skills.

Notice of the General Office of the State Council on Printing and Distributing the Special Action Plan for the Transformation and Application of Patents (2023-2025)

The National Advanced Training Course for Technical Managers was held in Shenzhen


That about wraps it up for the month. I’ve been moving house and struck down with a chest infection to boot so hopefully a more regular service of articles and analysis will be able to resume shortly.

As always, if your institution needs to build its capacity to engage with China, feel free to reach out to me directly or via my website at –