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How does the Chinese state promote industrial upgrading and innovation? Answers from Brandt and Raws

Policy, Regulation, and Innovation in China’s Electricity and Telecom Industries

Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski

The scale of China’s innovation ambitions inspires worldwide commentary, much of it poorly informed. Focusing on electricity, telecommunication, and semiconductors, this book offers a focused and detailed account of China’s effort to promote innovation. Massive application of human, policy, and financial resources shows great promise, but institutional obstacles, conflicting objectives, ill-advised policies, and Soviet-era legacies inject inefficiencies, resulting in a complex mosaic of success and failure in both technical and commercial dimensions. Thus, State Grid leads the world in high-voltage power transmission, while domestic semiconductors remain far behind the international frontier. China’s electricity and telecom providers record impressive technical advances, but excess investment and inefficient operation contribute to high costs and prices. Nuclear power displays an unexpected combination of technical excellence and commercial weakness. Cost reduction rather than technical advance underpins commercial success in solar materials. These granular studies look beyond specific technologies to incorporate the policy matrix, regulatory structures, and global technical developments into the appraisal of China’s innovation prospects.

In Policy, Regulation and Innovation in China’s Electricity and Telecom Industries. Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski, eds. Cambridge University Press, 2019.

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