In December 2014, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China issued the Notice on the Plan for Deepening the Reform of the Management of Centrally-Financed S&T Projects (Programmes, Funds), commonly referred to as the “Guo Fa  No. 64”. The Notice outlined an ambitious reform plan that would, gradually yet systematically, re-shape the structure of the entire Chinese national funding system for science, technology, and innovation (STI). This followed ten years of exponential growth during which China’s research intensity surpassed that of the European Union, and its gross national R&D expenditure rose to third in the world, right after the EU and US.
The Notice directly addressed the inefficiencies that emerged from the rapid expansion of the Chinese STI system – i.e. high decentralisation and fragmentation across tens of disconnected agencies, resulting in overlaps and low-efficiency in allocation of government resources. It did so by reforming the institutional and management structure of national government-funded STI programmes, and by reorganising the distributional layout of over one hundred previously-existing and overlapping funding programmes. The main driver of the reform was the need to reshape the entire STI funding system to become more coordinated, integrated, focused, and effective.
The reform mainly resulted in two structural changes, on the institutional and on the operational level:
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