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Trends in China's Transition toward a Knowledge Economy

Authors: Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, and Ernest J. Wilson III
January/February 2006
Asian Survey


During the past decade, China has arguably placed more importance on reforming and modernizing its information and communication technology (ICT) sector than any other developing country in the world. Under former Premier Zhu Rongji, the Chinese leadership was strongly committed to making ICT central to its national goals—from transforming Chinese society at home to pursuing its ambitions as a world economic and political power. In one of his final speeches, delivered at the first session of the 10th National People’s Congress in 2003, Zhu implored his successors to “energetically promote information technology (IT) applications and use IT to propel and accelerate industrialization” so that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can continue to build a “well-off society.”1

The current leadership under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao continues to devote massive material and political resources to what it terms xinxihua “informatization” (the application of modern ICT tools to other economic sectors) as a key strategic element for advancing the twin goals to which the CCP is committed: the measured transition from a communist to a market economy and, more reluctantly, the continued shift of the CCP from a revolutionary to a ruling party…

  1. “Chinese Premier’s Government Work Report 1997–2002—Official Version,” BBC Monitoring International Reports, March 20, 2003.

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