China centralizes authority over scientific research as Xi preaches self-reliance

The State Council is also set to change some regulatory oversight of banking and consumer finance

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Xi Jinping presides over a meeting of the National Peoples Congress.
Xi Jinping presides over a meeting of the National Peoples Congress.
Photo: Feng Li (Getty Images)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for more scientific and technological innovation during the country’s annual Two Sessions meeting on March 7, and his cabinet submitted a proposal to radically restructure the ministry in charge of domestic research. It is set to be officially approved on Friday.

The proposed bureaucratic change comes as the Chinese government urges its citizens to reduce their reliance on foreign technology. The US has recently introduced extensive export controls aimed at obstructing Chinese firms, specifically in the semiconductor industry.

Xi specifically cited international tensions as he urged self-reliance.

“Amid fierce international competition ... whether we can build a socialist modernized country in an all-round way as scheduled depends on the self-reliance and self-improvement of science and technology,” Xi said in his remarks at the National People’s Congress.


The institutional changes will create the Central Commission on Science and Technology, effectively consolidating control over domestic research for the State Council. While details are sparse, the proposal calls on the commission to align with state priorities in innovation and work towards translating research into practical applications.

Xi’s cabinet also floated reforms to step up financial oversight in the country’s consumer finance sector, including combining the current banking and insurance watchdogs into one department and expanding the number of provincial branches of the central bank.



“Western countries led by the US have implemented comprehensive containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development — Xi said at this week’s annual meeting of the national legislature in a rare direction mention of the US trade restrictions.

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