China creating its own DARPA in a move that follows Japan and South Korea creating DARPA like agencies

China’sPeople’s Liberation Army (PLA) is bringing military Research and Development back under its oversight and launching a new agency modeled after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

China is joining a trend in Asia: Japan has launched a DARPA-like agency, and South Korea is planning one, too. “It is natural that China and other countries are trying to establish DARPA-like organizations that can marry cutting-edge science and technology for defense applications,” says Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. But whether China can succeed is an open question, he asserts, as DARPA’s success—the Internet is its most famous creation—is rooted in U.S. protection of freedom of expression. China has one big advantage, he says: It’s “very effective in acquiring advanced technology from foreign businesses through cyber and other means.”

China’s central government plans to spend $147 billion on defense this year; the amount allotted to defense R and D is a state secret.

The new committee is headed by Liu Guozhi, an applied physicist and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. An expert on high power microwaves, he formerly commanded the Malan nuclear test base in Xinjing, China, and was deputy director of the dissolved PLA General Armaments Department. Liu’s committee is now creating the DARPA-like agency under it, according to a source who requested anonymity.

The efforts of China’s advanced research might look a lot like those of other governments, since China’s already stolen plans for advanced military jets, ships, and lasers.

Japan allowed its largest state-funded research and development agency to get involved in military research for the first time to help boost development of export-worthy defence technologies.

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) will work with private companies on innovative projects, identifying promising technologies.

The companies involved will retain commercial rights to the technology developed.

According to the sources NEDO will be restructured to accommodate the new responsibilities and will operate similarly to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

NEDO has a budget of 131.9 billion yen (about US$1.2 billion) per year. The major part of the NEDO budget is new energy research.

SOURCES – Science Magazine, Popular Science, NEDO, Slideshare – DARPA presentation