China’s cabinet of new scientists and its drive for technological self-reliance

Who are the new generation of scientists promoted to China’s Politburo and what does their appointment mean for Beijing’s policymaking?

Research event, Panel Recording
31 July 2023 — 1:00PM TO 2:00PM

Event recording

— Thumbnail image: The Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo credit: Kevin Frayer/Stringer/Getty Images.

China’s Politburo has long been dominated by economic technocrats. But a recent change in its composition indicates an important new direction in the policy intentions of China’s political leadership, with a much greater focus on science and technology.

The promotion of a new generation of scientists to the 24-member Politburo – five of 11 newly appointed members are from distinguished scientific backgrounds – reflects President Xi Jinping’s ambitions to boost the country’s economic and technological self-reliance.

In this discussion, speakers draw upon Chatham House’s research paper The new scientists: The emerging Chinese leaders behind Xi Jinping’s drive for technological self-reliance to decipher the professional and political track record of these new Politburo members and consider what these appointments might mean for Beijing’s drive for technological self-reliance.

  • Who are the five ‘new scientists’ and what have they achieved in their respective fields of scientific research?

  • To what extent do these appointments mark a fundamental shift in Beijing’s economic policymaking and foreign relations?

  • Amid intensifying friction between China and the West, will China be able to achieve scientific breakthrough by relying on its homegrown talent?

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