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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Innovation in China’s Defense Research, Development, and Acquisition System


This policy brief examines how innovation takes place within the Chinese defense research, development, and acquisition (RDA) system. This begins with a short review of the evolving frameworks of analysis of technological innovation in industrial systems, with prominence given to the coupled technology-push, market-pull model. Over the past 60 years, the Chinese defense RDA system has evolved from a top-down to a coupled model of interaction between weapons developers and military end-users. Important reforms have been taking place in the Chinese defense RDA system since the late 1990s, but serious structural impediments continue to exist that threatens to blunt the effectiveness of these improvements and keep the system in a trapped transition.

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