Forbidden City

Secretive Chinese committee focused on the “main economic battlefield” of tech

In a readout of their meeting this week, China’s Politburo provided for the first time details on the work of a secretive body whose purpose is to focus on what China called the “main economic battlefield” of technology.

According to the official Xinhua news service, the Politburo’s meeting on Thursday partly focused on a 2021 report from the National Science and Technology Advisory Committee which, unbeknownst to the outside world, was established two years ago to provide the Central Committee with recommendations on developing the nation’s science and technology sectors. 

“It is necessary to accurately study and judge the international and domestic scientific and technological development trends, face the frontiers of world science and technology, face the main economic battlefield, face the major needs of the country, and face the people's life and health,” the Politburo readout said. 

In 2018, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced that it would set up the advisory committee, but there has been no news of the committee since. 

According to Xinhua, among other things, the committee has been providing the Central Committee with policy advice on everything from national science and technology planning to the development of China’s S&T talent.

Technology, the politburo said in its readout of the meeting published on Xinhua, is China’s “main economic battlefield” and the committee is supposed to help China win that battle. The committee was established around the time that the U.S. leveled sanctions against Chinese telecoms giant ZTE. Self-sufficiency in core technologies has been a watchword in Beijing ever since.

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Dina Temple-Raston

Dina Temple-Raston is the host and executive producer of the Click Here podcast as well as a senior correspondent at Recorded Future News. She previously served on NPR’s Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology, and social justice and hosted and created the award-winning Audible Podcast “What Were You Thinking.”