Chinese Science Investigations: Where German Researchers Collaborate with the Chinese Army

In research, it is not always clear whether the results can also be used for military purposes. Scientists engage in transnational cooperation primarily in the pursuit of knowledge, but in security circles cooperation is sometimes considered problematic—particularly with countries such as Russia and China. An international research group has now examined the extent to which scientists from European research institutions closely and regularly cooperate with Chinese universities and institutes close to or fully affiliated with the military. They provided the numbers on Thursday.

European researchers have published nearly 3,000 studies over the past two decades that have been developed in collaboration with Chinese universities entirely subservient to the military. Most of this cooperation was with the United Kingdom (1389), followed by Germany (349), the Netherlands (288), and Sweden (230).

48 German universities cooperate with military-related institutions in China

The most involved in Germany were the Max Planck Society (39), the universities in Bochum and Hamburg (27 each), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, 21), the Jülich Research Center (16), RWTH Aachen (15) and the Universities of Duisburg-Essen ( 14), Mainz and Rostock (12 each), as well as the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the University of Magdeburg (11 each). According to the research, 48 German universities cooperate with academic institutions in China where there is a high risk of being close to the military.

Most (about two-thirds) of these publications were published by German researchers together with researchers from the China National Defense Science and Technology University (NUDT). NUDT is the most important university in China’s defense apparatus, and reports directly to the Central Military Commission, which is China’s highest defense body.

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The studies mainly dealt with research topics from the fields of computer science, physics and materials science, but also, for example, artificial intelligence, mathematics and algorithms. According to the group, the Chinese leadership is using the knowledge gained from joint research for the strategic upgrade of the military.

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