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University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation

The Chinese Science and Technology Planning Sub-System: Process and Organization

July 06, 2022
Siwen Xiao, Yaosheng Xu, et al


In this technical paper, Siwen Xiao, Yaosheng Xu, and Barry Naughton examine the planning, prioritization, and coordination of China’s five-year plans, with a focus on science and technology innovation.


Government planning has expanded enormously in China over the past fifteen years, but relatively little is known about how planning works in practice. In this working paper, Siwen Xiao, Yaosheng Xu, and Barry Naughton examine the planning process for the 13th Five-year Plan for Science and Technology Innovation (2016–2020) and provide preliminary observations about the operation of planning in China. Among their findings, they show that science and technology planning became a fully formed sub-system only in 2015; and that although the relationship between the national plan and the local (and ministerial) plans is theoretically that of superior and subordinate, in practice localities have a great deal of flexibility. The authors identify mechanisms through which various plans are harmonized, and how plans are prioritized.

Photo credit: OECD