China’s tech sector stands to benefit from the appointment of officials with science and technology backgrounds to leadership positions. In recent years China has been pushing tech at the national level, promoting programs such as “Made in China 2025” to upgrade the sector. While there have been recent developments in the Party’s involvement with tech, it is how the longer-term projects are accelerated that is going to have the bigger impact, argues Lea Shih in an analysis for the China Policy Institute.

Before this October’s five-yearly congress of the Communist Party of China that makes decisions on leadership, the Party called on tech firms to put patriotism before profits, and reports emerged on how the Party is taking small stakes in some of China’s top tech firms such as Tencent, Sina Weibo, and Youku Tudou. The 1% “special management shares” are apparently aimed to give the Party a seat on the board and are already being tested in startups. Other tech companies have already set up internal Party committees.

China is also looking to improve its military technology as well as aerospace and navigation. And now leading names from such sectors, whose basic research invariably leads to trickle-down innovations at the commercial level, have been gaining important political seats via the ongoing reshuffle of leadership. In a piece for the China Policy Institute, Lea Shih, a researcher for the Mercator Institute, has compiled a list of the notable people with technology backgrounds who have been politically promoted.

Ma Xingrui was previously Chief Commander of the Chang’e 3 mission, Director of the China National Space Administration and Director of the China Atomic Energy Authority. Ma is now the Governor of Guangdong.

Xu Dazhe has been appointed Governor of Hunan after previous roles as Director of the State Administration for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense.

The new Governor of Zhejiang, Yuan Jiajun, has previously been the Chief Commander of the Shenzhou Spacecraft National Manned Space Program.

Appointments such as these are going to be shaping China’s technological future and prove to have a greater impact than the more day-to-day changes we are more used to seeing.

Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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