Skip to main content

Science and Technology in China's Development

Science and Technology in China's Development

Programme: M. Phil
Course Title: Science and Technology in China's Development 
Course No.: EA 624
Semester: Winter
Credits: Three
Teaching Method: Lectures and Discussions
Evaluation Method: Seminar, Book Review, Research Essay and End-Semester Examination
Teaching Hours: Three per week
Instructor: D. Varaprasad Sekhar

Science and technology are increasingly being recognized as some of the most important themes that the world is grappling with, particularly in the context of the emergence of knowledge economies and information societies. Considering their pivotal role in determining the development architecture, the Chinese have been debating about them and factoring them in their policies as well as praxis. An analysis of their role in development gives us invaluable insights into how the Chinese society, economy and polity are currently evolving. 

The central objective of this course is to analyze science and technology, the two modern forces, which have been crucial to the emerging Chinese development experience. Another objective is to delineate their role in shaping not only Chinese economy but also society besides initiating a number of discourses which have a significant bearing on Chinese politics.


Section I: Conceptualizing Science, Technology and Development
1. Science and Technology: Some Fundamental Issues of Nature and Categories 
2. Social Studies of S&T: A Multidisciplinary Approach; History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science 
3. Development: Various Theories; Modernization, Dependency and East Asian Model 
4. Linkages between Science, Technology and Development

Section II: Science, Technology and Development in Chinese History and Perception
Three Models: Classical, Western and Socialist 
Chinese Perspectives on Science, Technology and Development

Section III: Science and Technology in China's Development since 1978
1. Science and Technology in China’s Development: A Framework for Analysis 
2. Reforms in S&T Organizational Structure, R&D and Innovation 
3. Science and Technology in Chinese Agriculture (Biotechnology, GM Crops& Foods) 
4. Science and Technology in Industrial Development (Turnkey, Tech in SOEs & High tech) 
5. Science, Technology and Defence Modernization 
6. Technology Acquisition: Advanced Technology for Domestic Development 
7. S&T byproducts: ICTs 
8. S&T and Energy Security 
9. S&T and Environment 
10. Science and Politics: Some Debates

Reading List: Readings with * are essential while the rest are additional.

Section I: Conceptualizing Science, Technology and Development

Jasanoff, S., Markle G., Peterson J. and Pinch T., ed., Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications, 1995).* Read chapters1 and 5.

Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Second Edition, Enlarged (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1970). *

Barber, Bernard, Sociology of Science (New York: Free Press, 1962). *

Feyerbend, Paul, Science in a Free Society (London: Verso, 1978). *

Sagasti, Francisco, “Underdevelopment, Science and Technology: The Point of View of the Underdeveloped Countries”, Science Studies, Vol.3, No.1, 1973, pp. 47-59. *

Stewart, Frances, Technology and Underdevelopment (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1978).

Salomon, J. J., Sagasti, F. R. and Sachs-Jeantet C., The Uncertain Quest: Science, Technology and Development (Tokyo: UNU Press, 1994). * Read Introduction.

Potter, Robert B. “Theories, Strategies and Ideologies of Development”, in Vandana Desai and Robert B. Potter, The Companion to Development Studies, (London: Arnold Publishers, 2002) pp. 62-64. *

Apter, David E., Rethinking Development: Modernization, Dependency, and Postmodern Politics (London: Sage Publications, 1987). *

Escobar, Arturo, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

Section II: Science, Technology and Development in Chinese History, and Perception

Needham, Joseph, Science and Civilisation in China Vol.1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956). *

Blue, Gregory, “Science(s), Civilizations, Historie(s): A Continuing Dialogue with Joseph Needham”, and Elzinga, Aant, “Revisiting the Needhamian Paradox” in S. Irfan Habib and Dhruv Raina, eds., Situating the History of Science: Dialogues with Joseph Needham(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 29-72. *

Nakayama, S., “Science and Technology in China” in Toynbee, Arnold, ed., Half the World: The History and Culture of China and Japan(London: Thames and Hudson, 1973), pp. 141-150. *

Sivin Nathan. “Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Take Place in China -Or Didn't It? In Sivin, Science in Ancient China, (Aldershot, Hants: Variorum, 1995). *

Sivin, Nathan “On the Limits of Empirical Knowledge in Chinese and Western Science” See his website for the article.

Kirby, William C., “Technocratic Organization and Technological Development in China: The Nationalist Experience and Legacy, 1928-1953” in Simon, Denis Fred and Goldman, Merle, eds., Science and Technology in Post-Mao China. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 23-43. *

Shih, Joseph, “Science and Technology in China,” Asian Survey, Vol. 12, No. 8, August 1972, pp. 662-675. *

Suttmeier, Richard P., Research and Revolution: Science Policy and Social Change in China (London: Lexington Books, 1974).

Section III. 1 S &T in China’s Development since 1978: A Framework for Analysis

Deng, Xiaoping, Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the National Conference on Science, 18 March 1978. *

Guide to China’s Science and Technology Policy, White Paper on Science and Technology No. 1, 1986, State Science and Technology Commission, (SSTC), People’s Republic of China (PRC) 1986.

Suttmeier, Richard P., Science and Technology and China's Drive for Modernization (California: Hoover, 1980).

Simon, Denis Fred, “China's Drive to Close the Technological Gap: S&T Reform the Imperative to Catch up,” China Quarterly, September 1989, No. 719, pp. 598-631. *

Shulin Gu, “Science and Technology for Development: China’s Experience in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century”, Science, Technology and Society Vol.6, No. 1, 2001, pp. 203-34. *

Xiobai Shen and Robin Williams, “A Critique of China’s Utilitarian View of Science and Technology” Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2005, pp. 197-223. *

Section III. 2 Reforms in S&T Organizational Structure, R&D and Innovation

Zhou, Chengkui, “Revamping Science and Technology System,” Beijing Review, Vol. 29, No. 24, 16 June 1986, pp. 21-27.

Saich, Tony, “Reform of the China’s Organizational System,” in Simon, Denis Fred and Goldman, Merle, eds., Science and Technology in Post-Mao China. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 69-88. *

Baark, Erik, “Fragmented Innovation: China’s Science and Technology Policy Reforms in Retrospect,” in China’s Economic Dilemmas in the 1990s: The Problem of Reforms, Modernization, and Interdependence, Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, (Armonk: ME Sharpe, 1994), pp. 531-545. *

Conroy, Richard, “China’s Science and Technology Policy” in Cheng, Joseph Y. S., ed., China: Modernization in the 1980s (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1989), pp. 495-552.

Simon, Denis Fred, “Rethinking R&D “The China Business Review, July -Aug 1983, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 25-28. *

Section III. 3 Science and Technology in Chinese Agriculture

Fan, Shenggen (1991), ‘Effects of Technological Change and Institutional Reform on Production Growth in Chinese Agriculture,’ American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 73: (2), pp, 266-275. *

Bruce Stone, “Basic Agricultural Technology under Reform”, in Y. Y. Kueh and Robert F. Ash, ed., Economic Trends in Chinese Agriculture: The Impact of Post Mao Reforms (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) pp. 334. *

Wang, Sangui (1995-96), ‘The Diffusion of Agricultural Technology in Poor Areas of South -West China: The Role of Farmer’s Organizations and Village Governments’, China Information, 10 (3 & 4), pp. 154-55.

Zhang, Xiaobo and Wang, Qin (2001), ‘Challenges in Reforming the Agricultural R&D System: The Case of Jiangsu Province,’ Conference Report 11. *

Section III. 4 Science and Technology in Industrial Development

Maruyama, Nobuo, Industrialization and Technological Development in China (Tokyo: Institute of Developing Economies, 1990). *

Grow, Roy F., “In Search of Excellence in China’s Industrial Sector: The Chinese Enterprises and Foreign Technology” in China’s Economic Dilemmas in the 1990s: The Problems of Reforms, Modernization, and Interdependence Vol. 2, Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1994), pp. 817-827.

Conroy, R. J., “Technological Innovation in China's Recent Industrialization,” The China Quarterly, No. 97, March. 1984, pp. 1-23. *

Qin, Shijien, “High -Tech Industrialization in China. An Analysis of the Current Status,” Asian Survey, Vol. XXXII, No. 12, December 1992, pp. 1124-1136. *

Section III. 5 Science, Technology and Defence Modernization

Gurtov, Mel, “Swords into Market Shares: China’s Conversion of Military Industry to Civilian Production,” The China Quarterly, No. 134 (June 1993), pp. 213-241. *

Tow, William T., “Science and Technology in China’s Defense,” Problems of Communism (July/August 1985). *

Frieman, Wendy, “China’s Military R&D System: Reform and Reorientation,” in Denis Fred Simon and Merle Goldman, eds., Science and Technology in Post-Mao China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 251-286. *

Section III. 6 Technology Acquisition: Advanced Technology for Domestic Development

Simon, Denis Fred, “China’s Acquisition and Assimilation of Foreign Technology: Beijing’s Search for Excellence” in China’s Economic Dilemma’s in the 1990s: The Problems of Reforms, Modernization, and Interdependence Vol. 2, Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1994), pp. 565-598. *

Ho, Samuel P. S., “Technology Transfer to China during the 1980s-How Effective: Some Evidence from Jiangsu,” Pacific Affairs(Vancouver), Vol. 70, No. 1, Spring 1997, pp. 85-106. *

Zhao, Hongxin, “Technology Imports and Their Impacts on the Enhancement of China’s Indigenous Technological Capability,” The Journal of Development Studies, (London), Vol. 31, No. 4, April 1995, pp. 585-602. *

Section III. 7 S&T byproducts: ICTs

Hughes, Christopher R., “Review Essay: China and the Internet: A Question of Politics or Management?”, The China Quarterly, No. 175, September 2003, pp. 818-824. *

Tipson, Frederick S., “China and the Information Revolution”, in Elizabeth Economy and Michel Oksenberg, eds., China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects (New York: Council on Foreign Affairs Relations Press, 1999), pp. 231-265. *

Mengin, Francoise, ed., Cyber China: Reshaping National Identities in the Age of Information (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Read particularly chapters one and three. *

Section III. 8 S&T and Energy Security

Ross, Marc, “Improving the Efficiency of Energy in Manufacturing”, Science, 21 April, 1989, pp. 311-317. *

Smil, Vaclav, “China’s Energy and Resources Uses: Continuity and Change”, The China Quarterly, No. 156, December 1998, pp. 935-951. *

Sinton, Jonathan E. and et al, Evaluation of China’s Energy Strategy Options, Report prepared for China Sustainable Energy Programme, 16 May 2005. *

Section III. 9 S&T and Environment

Levine, Candice, “Reorienting for Sustainable Development: Support for a National Science and Technology Policy”, Journal of International Affairs, Spring 1998, Vol.51, No.2, 1998, pp. 675-688. *

Economy, Elizabeth, The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2004). *

Morton, Catherine, International Aid and China’s Environment: Taming the Yellow Dragon (London: Routledge, 2005). *

Section III. 10 Science and Politics: Some Debates

Simon, Denis Fred, “China's S&T Intellectuals in the Post-Mao Era: “Retrospective and Prospective Glimpse,” Journal of North East Asian Studies. Summer, 1985, pp. 57-82.

Suttmeier, Richard P., “Science, Technology and China’s Political Future: A Framework for Analysis,” Simon, Denis Fred and Goldman, Merle, eds., Science and Technology in Post-Mao China. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp.375-396. *

Buckly, Christopher, “Science As Politics and Politics As Science: Fang Lizhi and Chinese Intellectuals’ Uncertain Road to Dissent,” Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, November 1990 pp. 36-58. *

Miller, Lyman H., Science and Dissent in Post-Mao China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996). *

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.