Regulation and Governance of Nanotechnology in China: Regulatory Challenges and Effectiveness

Darryl Stuart Jarvis, Noah Richmond


China’s rapid economic transformation over the last 3 decades has been remarkable both in terms of its speed and scale. As the Economist magazine reported recently, ‘In China each person now produces four times as much as in the early 1970s’ with as many as 400 million people being lifted from abject poverty into the ranks of an urban dwelling middle class in the space of a single generation (Economist, 2007). Much of this transformation has been off the back of China’s movement into low value adding manufacturing, in essence becoming the world’s assembly, manufacturing, textile, and footwear hub. China, however, is rapidly moving to reposition itself and climb up the value China, announcing its ambition to become a global leader in science and technology. This paper explores one such facet of this race for global leadership in science and technology, addressing China’s massive investment in nanotechnology research and attempts to become a leading producer of nano-materials and nano-science knowledge hub. As the paper highlights, however, science and technology innovation are underpinned by regulatory and institutional technologies, and require adroit policy supervision of complex innovation eco-systems. Whether China is able to leverage off its increasing wealth and funnel this into global leadership in science and technology, in large measure depends on still nascent regulatory systems.

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