The Center for Strategic Translation provides statesmen and scholars with the tools needed to interpret the Chinese party-state of today while training a new generation of China specialists with the skills needed to guide our relations with the China of tomorrow.

The Center meets this need through initiatives in translation and education. The Center locates, translates, and annotates documents of historic or strategic value that are currently only available in Chinese. Our introductory essays, glossaries, and commentaries are designed to make these materials accessible and understandable to statesmen and scholars with no special expertise in Chinese politics or the Chinese language.

Complementing the Center’s published translations are the Center’s training seminars. Starting in the summer of 2023 the Center will host a series of seminars to instruct young journalists, graduate students, and government analysts in the open-source analysis of Communist Party policy, introduce them to the distinctive lexicon and history of Party speak, and train them how to draw credible conclusions from conflicting or propagandistic documentary sources.
The Center is an initiative of the American Governance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that studies and promotes the betterment of American public institutions and publishes the quarterly magazine Palladium. The Center is directed by Tanner Greer, a noted essayist, journalist, and researcher with expertise interpreting China in the context of American foreign policy.


Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
New Round of Techno-Scientific Revolution and Industrial Transformation
Xīn Yī Lún Kējì Gémìng Hé Chǎnyè Biàngé

When Chinese leaders speak of a “new round of techno-scientific revolution and industrial transformation” they envision a suite of new technologies whose development will have an economic impact comparable to the invention of steam power, electricity, or the computer. The leadership of the Communist Party of China believes the world has already entered the first stages of this scientific revolution. Just as steam power and the other inventions of the industrial revolution reshaped the global balance of power in the 19th century, China’s communist leaders predict that the newest round of technological change has the potential to subvert the existing global order. The aim of science, technology, and industrial policy under Xi Jinping is to make China a leading force in this revolution, thereby securing China’s ADVANCE TO THE CENTER OF THE WORLD STAGE.

Historians of science often divide the technological innovations of the last three centuries into three waves. The first wave, also called the “first industrial revolution,” began in Great Britain during the mid-18th century with the invention of the steam engine and subsequent application of steam power to transportation and industry. The second industrial revolution, which began in the mid-19th century in Europe and the United States, saw the invention of modern steel production, fossil fuels, industrial chemicals, and electrification. The third revolution in industry followed the 20th century invention of transistors, modern computing, and the internet. Chinese statesmen and technologists predict that the 21st century will witness a fourth wave of transformative technology—in other words, a “new round of techno-scientific revolution and industrial transformation.” 

This hope is not unique to China. The idea of “Fourth Industrial Revolution” was popularized by the founder of the World Economic Forum in the mid-2010s (Schwab 2015; Schwab 2016) and in Chinese political rhetoric the phrase “Fourth Industrial Revolution” [第四次工业革命] and “a new round of techno-scientific revolution” are often linked. However, Chinese leaders were dreaming of transformative technology long before these buzzwords spread among the Davos set. From the days of Mao Zedong China has sought to catch up with the west by leap-frogging traditional models of development. In the 1980s many Chinese intellectuals hoped that China could leverage emerging information technologies to power its economic rise (Gerwitz 2022). As the Chinese economy boomed in the 2000s these hopes grew into an earnest expectation that China might one day lead global technological development. Xi Jinping was one of these expectants. As General Secretary one of the very first POLITBURO study sessions that he organized was on the importance of an innovation-driven development strategy. It was in this study session the phrase “new round of techno-scientific revolution and industrial transformation” officially entered China’s communist lexicon (People’s Daily 2013).  

There is both a geopolitical and economic logic behind this fixation with novel technology. Chinese leaders often blame the eclipse of traditional China on its failure to industrialize; they are also acutely aware that the two geopolitical hegemons of the last three hundred years were also the leading innovators in the last three techno-scientific revolutions. The lesson is clear and has been reduced to a saying taught to Chinese school children: in times of trouble “the backward will be beaten” [落后就要挨打]. If the GREAT REJUVENATION OF THE CHINESE NATION is to be secured, China must find its way to the techno-scientific frontier. 

This quest is also seen as increasingly central to Chinese economic growth. When Xi Jinping introduced the NEW DEVELOPMENT CONCEPT he acknowledged that China’s existing economic model was no longer an adequate engine for the Chinese economy. Imminent breakthroughs in clean energy, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, materials science, and quantum computing could, if aggressively pursued, become the foundation for a new model of growth. Thus beginning in 2016 the Communist Party of China began orienting its industrial policy around the needs of China’s high technology industries (Naughton 2021).

This task is pursued with great urgency. Just as the globalizing forces of the nineties and aughts presented China with a PERIOD OF STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITY to catch up with its global rivals, Chinese statesmen believe that the new round of industrial transformation presents China with a rare window of opportunity. For the first time in many centuries China has the chance to get in on the ground floor of a new technological revolution. As Xi Jinping instructed his cadres in a 2021 essay:

Since the beginning of the 21st century, global scientific and technological innovation has entered a period of unprecedented intensity and activity. A new round of techno-scientific revolution and industrial transformation is reshaping the global innovation landscape and economic structure… Never before had science and technology had such a profound impact on the future and destiny of the country… If China wants to be strong and rejuvenated, it must vigorously develop science and technology and strive to become the world's major science center and innovation highland. We are closer to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than at any time in history, and we need to build a world power in science and technology more than at any time in history! (Xi 2021)  



China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. “General Laws of the Rise of Great Powers.” An excerpt from National Security and the Rise and Fall of Great Powers. Translated by Dylan Levi King. San Francisco: Center for Strategic Translation, 2024; He, Henry. 2001. Dictionary of the Political Thought of the People's Republic of China. New York: Taylor & Francis; Jin Canrong. 2019. “The Uncertainty of the International Situation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Translated by Tianyu Fang. San Francisco: Center for Strategic Translation; Naughton, Barry. 2021. The Rise of China’s Industrial Policy 1978 to 2020. Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; People’s Daily. 2013. “Minrui Bawo Shijie Keji Chuangxin Fazhan Qushi Qieshi Ba Chuangxin Qudong Fazhan Zhanlüe Shishi Hao 敏锐把握世界科技创新发展趋势 切实把创新驱动发展战略实施好 [Keenly grasp the world's technological innovation development trends and effectively implement the innovation-driven development strategy]”; Schwab, Klaus 2015. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Foreign Affairs; Schwab, Klaus. 2016; Fourth Industrial Revolution. New York: The Crown Publishing Group; Xi Jinping. 2021. “Nuli Chengwei Shijie Zhuyao Kexue Zhongxin He Chuangxin Gaodi 努力成为世界主要科学中心和创新高地 [Strive to Become the World's Major Science Center and Innovation Hub].” Qiushi. June.

Mentioned in
Back to Glossary