Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics


Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA) is designated very high risk for its involvement in economic espionage and very high level of defence research.

NUAA is one of the ‘Seven Sons of National Defence’ subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. NUAA specialises in aerospace research and works closely with the Chinese military as well as civilian and military aviation companies, including military aircraft manufacturers AVIC and AECC. 21% of the university’s graduates in 2018 who found employment were working in the defence sector.

The university claims to have participated in nearly all major national aviation projects, including the development of the Chang’e 3 unmanned lunar explorer. NUAA hosts China’s only national defence laboratory for helicopter technology.

NUAA has attracted controversy for its alleged involvement in the Ministry of State Security’s efforts to steal US aviation technology.

Major defence laboratories

Designated defence research areas

In 2017, SASTIND approved 10 disciplines with defence characteristics at NUAA for the 13th five-year plan (2016-2020). In 2008, SASTIND’s predecessor COSTIND also designated 15 disciplines with defence characteristics at NUAA for the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010). These areas include

Economic espionage and misconduct

In 2018, the United States arrested a Chinese intelligence officer, Xu Yanjun, who allegedly sought to steal engine technology from GE Aviation. The indictment details the involvement of an NUAA deputy director in these efforts. Leveraging its expertise and close involvement with state-owned civil and military aviation companies, NUAA appears to have played a key role in identifying and cultivating overseas targets for the Ministry of State Security.

Jiangsu State Security Bureau Officer and NUAA student Xu Yanjun. Source: SCMP

According to the indictment, the NUAA co-conspirator reached out to a GE Aviation engineer, inviting him to give a lecture at the university’s College of Energy and Power Engineering (能源与动力学院). The NUAA official then introduced the engineer to Xu, who used an alias and claimed to be from the Jiangsu Association of Science and Technology. Xu began cultivating the engineer, asking him to pass on proprietary information. NUAA has confirmed that Xu was also a part-time postgraduate student at NUAA. However, the engineer cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, luring Xu to Belgium where he was arrested and then extradited to the United States.

Scientists at the NUAA College of Energy and Power Engineering appear to work closely with Chinese state-owned aviation companies, including the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), and sit on expert panels for the PLA. ; ; ;

Last updated 28 October 2019. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.