Since its launch in 2015, this initiative has been the subject of intense concern and recurrent controversy, resulting in a level of prominence that is quite singular for a rather abstruse matter of industrial policy. Made in China 2025 is but one key piece of a complex architecture of plans and policies aimed at generating “innovation-driven development,” an agenda that has emerged as a clear priority under Xi Jinping’s leadership.
In many respects, the launch of this initiative reflected a response to the weakness of Chinese manufacturing capabilities relative to global leaders, while also seeking to take advantage of a perceived opportunity to achieve a new source of growth. Increasingly, Made in China 2025 has come to be emblematic of these ambitions, rightly provoking intense U.S. anxieties over China’s emergence as a technological powerhouse that rivals American leadership. The core objective of advancing “indigenous innovation” to enable China’s “national rejuvenation” has been highly consistent across recent generations of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders. In this regard, the technological dimension of China’s rise is integral to its future trajectory as a rising power with global ambitions.