Harbin Engineering University


Harbin Engineering University (HEU) is designated very high risk for its involvement in economic espionage, top-secret security credentials, inclusion on the Entity List, and high number of defence laboratories and defence research areas.

HEU is one of China’s top defence research universities. The university is a leading centre of research and training on shipbuilding, naval armaments, maritime technology and nuclear power.https://web.archive.org/web/20181214093122/http://www.hrbeu.edu.cn/xygk/xxjj.aspx 36.46% of the university’s 2017 graduates who found employment were working in the defence sector.‘2017年毕业生就业质量年度报告’, Harbin Engineering University, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20191008042143/http://xxgk.hrbeu.edu.cn/_upload/article/files/c5/27/d4d2a47f47f89fabb3cdab7bdc0c/be360bea-0072-466a-afde-b321f2388dbb.docx

As one of the group of universities subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) known as the ‘Seven Sons of National Defence’ (国防七子), HEU is an integral part of China’s defence industry. HEU’s achievements include producing China’s first experimental submarine, ship-based computer, and hovercraft. The university claims to have participated in most of the PLA Navy’s submarine, undersea weapon, and warship projects.https://web.archive.org/web/20190520053551/http://pnec.hrbeu.edu.cn/2016/1229/c3349a122303/page.htm

HIT’s role in the defence industry is highlighted by its formal affiliation with the PLA Navy, which became a supervising agency of the university in 2007.The other parties were COSTIND (the predecessor to  SASTIND), Heilongjiang Province and the Ministry of Education. https://web.archive.org/web/20181214093122/http://www.hrbeu.edu.cn/xygk/xxjj.aspx Under the supervisory agreement, the PLA Navy committed to developing HEU’s capacity as a platform for research and development in military technology and for training defence personnel.https://web.archive.org/web/20120418205244/http://edu.people.com.cn/GB/1053/5845724.html The following year, HEU established a Defence Education Institute to train reserve officers.https://web.archive.org/web/20170601135419/http://zsb.hrbeu.edu.cn/1026/list.htm Since then, the institute has trained at least 1,700 officers. HEU also maintains a joint laboratory with the PLA Navy Coatings Analysis and Detection Center.https://web.archive.org/web/20190524011923/http://bbs.netbig.com/thread-2247142-1-1.html

HEU is an important hub research on nuclear engineering, including on nuclear submarines. In 2018, it signed a co-construction agreement with defence conglomerate China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).https://web.archive.org/web/20190520062935/http://www.cnnc.com.cn/cnnc/300555/300557/513530/index.html In 2019, HEU and CNNC established the China Nuclear Industry Safety and Simulation Technology Research Institute.http://archive.fo/MSp1L HEU also runs a joint laboratory on energetic materials (such as explosives) with the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics, China’s nuclear warhead research organisation.https://web.archive.org/web/20190524012032/https://www.instrument.com.cn/news/20140313/124382.shtml

Major defence laboratories

Designated defence research areas

HEU has at least 18 defence disciplines:https://web.archive.org/web/20180814232556/http://www.hrbeu.edu.cn/kxyj/zdxk.aspx

Kind Areas
Discipline in short-supply with defence characteristics (国防特色紧缺学科) ·         Nuclear science and engineering

·         Nuclear technology and applications

·         Stealth technology and engineering


Key subject with defence characteristics (国防特色重点专业) ·         Naval and maritime architecture
Core discipline with defence characteristics (国防特色主干学科) ·         Marine engine engineering

·         Navigation, guidance and control

·         Communication and information systems

Backbone discipline with defence characteristics (国防特色骨干学科) ·        Naval architecture and ocean structure design and construction

·         Underwater acoustics engineering

Emerging, interdisciplinary and frontier disciplines with defence characteristics (国防特色新兴交叉边缘学科) ·         Electromagnetic compatibility for ships

·         High-temperature melting chemistry and physics

Subjects in short-supply with defence characteristics (国防特色紧缺专业) ·         Quality and reliability engineering

·         Secrecy and information security engineering

·         Nuclear reactor engineering

·         Nuclear technology

·         Radiation protection and environmental engineering

·         Underwater acoustic engineering

Supportive and foundational disciplines with defence characteristics (国防特色支撑性基础学科) ·         Solid mechanics

MIIT, the parent ministry of defence industry agency SASTIND, has also designated power engineering and engineering thermophysics, integrated optical information technology, maritime information engineering, industrial design, measurement and control technology and instruments, internet-of-things engineering, and information countermeasure technology as key disciplines at HEU.https://web.archive.org/web/20190816011747/http://www.hrbeu.edu.cn/kxyj/zdxk.aspx

Economic espionage and misconduct

Defence and security links

HEU was reportedly the only university to be awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Aircraft Carrier Engineering and Construction Prize for its role in the development of the PLA Navy’s aircraft carriers.https://web.archive.org/web/20190520045056/https://xw.qq.com/cmsid/20181105A0F5EA00 ; https://web.archive.org/web/20190102054238/http://edu.people.com.cn/n1/2019/0102/c1053-30498873.html The university has also received the Outstanding Contribution to High-tech Weapons Equipment Development, Construction and Engineering Prize (高技术武器装备发展建设工程突出贡献奖). https://web.archive.org/web/20181214093122/http://www.hrbeu.edu.cn/xygk/xxjj.aspx

Noteworthy international collaborations

In 2019, HEU established the International Joint Laboratory of Naval Architecture and Offshore Technology (船舶与海洋工程技术国际合作联合实验室) with Portugal’s Lisbon University.https://web.archive.org/web/20190520073631/http://www.sohu.com/a/306759424_349336

HEU has joint labs with companies and universities across the world, including Texas Instruments and Rtec Instruments.https://web.archive.org/web/20190524011351/http://icec.hrbeu.edu.cn/2015/0707/c4657a135359/page.htm ; http://www.njzektek.com/news/html/?511.html

End-user lists

HEU was added to the US Government’s Entity List in 2020 for ‘for acquiring and attempting to acquire U.S.-origin items in support of programs for the People’s Liberation Army.’https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/06/05/2020-10869/addition-of-entities-to-the-entity-list-revision-of-certain-entries-on-the-entity-list

Last updated 11 June 2020. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.