China 2025 – Four scenarios for the research future of China

Part of the Dragon-Star project (2012-2015) was the execution of a foresight exercise that revealed future development scenarios regarding the research environment in China. The research also idenitifed future cooperation opportunities and threats, as well as trends and strategies in the fields of science and innovation.

The overall work was structured around a single focal question:  “ What are the main factors that will affect the Research (R) & Innovation (I) Environment in China until 2025?”. A combination of desk-study analysis, a Delphi study, as well as a Crowd-sourcing platform, have been utilized to reveal 16 critical drivers that play a substantial role in transforming the R&I landscape in China. A cross impact analysis has revealed the interrelation between the different factors, and highlighted the strong role of Governance and of the National Economy on the future developments.

Taking into account those drivers, as well as some critical uncertainties, four plausible scenarios for the future of the Chinese research & innovation landscape, have been composed. Scenarios are not predictions; it is simply not possible to predict the future with certainty, they are a powerful learning tool that helps us to perceive futures, today. Scenarios challenge our mindsets and oblige us to consider a set of potentially uncomfortable futures.

The four composed scenarios for China, are all set at 2025, and aim to help us suspend the disbelief in all plausible futures and allow us to think that any of them might take place, and prepare for them:

Yin & Yang – strong successful central governance combined with greater openness and a flourishing economy determines a cutting edge research community in 2025.

Blue Jasmine – strong and open governance fights to revive the national economy that is hit by a global crisis and the relocation of foreign manufacturing industries, characterizes the situation in 2025.

Dungeons & Dragons – Less open governance, and an insufficient court system support SOEs based development which seems to still to be successful in 2025.

The Breathless Queen – An overdrawn toxic China, characterized by a collapsed national economy and a dismantled society, seems to be the greatest global disappointment in 2025.

Download the China 2025 report

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