- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

The Globalization of China’s Life Science Sector

Over the past decade, China’s influence in the global life science sector has expanded significantly. China now has numerous life science companies that serve its domestic market, providing greater access to medical products and facilitating the development of the country’s first WHO-prequalified vaccine. These advances have paved the way for China’s pharmaceutical companies to make critical innovations available internationally.

At the same time, government policies to bolster this sector represent a departure from international norms, with strong implications for the entire system of market- and rules-based globalization. This departure has major implications that guide how innovative molecules will be developed for the domestic Chinese market, as well as opportunities to export Chinese-made pharmaceuticals.

Project Activities

With this in mind, this initiative examines China’s evolving life sciences sector and the implications for innovation and international harmonization around drug approvals, clinical trials, and market regulations. It also analyzes the broader impact that the evolution of China’s life science sector will have on U.S.-China relations. In so doing, it will capture the concerns of life science innovators in China&mash;including both Western industry, research, and government leaders, as well as Chinese industry, research, and policy leaders.

Over the course of 2014–16, NBR is commissioning research with leading scholars across the globe; convening ongoing dialogues with representatives from industry, policy, and research; and holding a series of private briefings for key policy and life science leaders in the United States and China.


Clara Gillispie
Senior Director of Trade, Economic, and Energy Affairs (TEEA)

NBR Senior Associate Benjamin Shobert Testifies on China's Pursuit of Biotechnology

On March 16, NBR Senior Associate Benjamin Shobert testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission at the hearing on "China's Pursuit of Next Frontier Tech: Computing, Robotics, and Biotechnology." Read his prepared remarks and view the video.

Report on the Rise of Chinese Innovation in the Life Sciences

The Chinese government is prioritizing the development of the country’s life science sector as a strategy for both improving public health and fostering economic growth. A new report examines China’s efforts to create a globally competitive environment for life science innovation and assesses the implications for industry and policy

A Chinese Perspective on National Life Science Innovation and Leadership

Yiwu He (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) compares and contrasts the environments for innovation in the life sciences in the United States and China. He argues that China’s life science sector is likely to benefit over the long term from significant financial investments from the government and private funds that allow for R&D failures over the short term.

Can China’s Model of State-Led Economic Development Pick Life Science Winners?

Joseph Wong (University of Toronto) analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of China’s model of state-led economic development for the evolution of the country’s domestic life sciences sector.

Sino-U.S. Relations Through a Life Sciences Prism

Yanzhong Huang (Council on Foreign Relations) analyzes China's policies toward its life sciences sector and considers their impact on political and economic relations with other Asian countries and the United States.

The Globalization of China’s Life Sciences Industry

Ka Zeng (University of Arkansas) provides an analysis of Chinese government actions and policies that depart from international trade norms. She suggests that the country’s policies in life science R&D and drug commercialization may be as disruptive as they have been in clean technology.

Benjamin Shobert Testifies before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

On April 3, 2014, Benjamin Shobert testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission at the hearing on "China's Healthcare Sector, Drug Safety, and the U.S.-China Trade in Medical Products." Read his prepared remarks and view the video.

Implications of China's First WHO-Prequalified Vaccine

Jiankang (Jack) Zhang (PATH) discusses why the WHO's announcement marks a historic milestone for both China and global health and the implications for China's engagement on health issues in Africa and other parts of the world.

Disruptive Forces in the Global Life Sciences Sector

Asia's engagement and investment in the life sciences industry has been rapidly increasing. Benjamin Shobert (NBR Senior Associate) explains the political and economic implications of evolving global leadership in this sector and offers recommendations for U.S. and international policy toward Asia.