Xi Jinping and China's Techno-Industrial Drive

May 28, 2024
A conversation between Bonnie Glaser and Tanner Greer discussing China’s techno-industrial policy under Xi Jinping.

China’s rate of economic growth has slowed markedly in recent years. According to Chinese government statistics, the economy grew by 5.2% in 2023. There are numerous challenges: weak consumer confidence, mounting local government debt, and a real estate market that used to fuel the economy, but is now in a prolonged downturn.

Many economists, including some in China, advocate that the government stimulate consumer spending. It is clear, however, that Xi Jinping is pursuing a different strategy. And this was quite clear when Chinese Premier Li Qiang delivered the Government Work Report last March.

Host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Tanner Greer, who argued in a recent article published in Foreign Policy and in his blog, The Scholar’s Stage, that Xi Jinping and the Politburo believe that science and technology are the answer to China’s problems. To quote from the article: “the central task of the Chinese state is to build an industrial and scientific system capable of pushing humanity to new technological frontiers.” Tanner is the director of the Center for Strategic Translation. As a journalist and researcher, his writing focuses on world politics and history.

Episode Highlights:

[01:43] Historical Narrative Informing China’s Belief in Techno-Industrial Policy

[03:47] How does China’s own history fit into this narrative?

[06:36] Evidence that Xi Jinping Believes in a Technological Revolution

[09:37] How does China assess the global balance of power?

[12:26] Three Premises Behind China’s Techno-Industrial Drive

[14:08] Influence of Intensifying US-China Technology Competition

[17:12] Acceleration of New Quality Productive Forces

[19:32] Skepticism of China’s Strategy

[26:43] Chinese Intellectuals Writing on Techno-Industrial Policy