National University of Defense Technology


The National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) is the PLA’s premier institution for scientific research and education. NUDT is directly subordinate to the Central Military Commission and ranks among China’s top universities for computer science, optical engineering, communications engineering and aerospace science. As the only military institution sponsored under the PRC’s major university development programs (the Double First-Class University Plan, Project 985, and Project 211) NUDT is likely the best-funded engineering university in the PLA.

In 2017, NUDT was reformed and placed in charge of the Institute of International Relations in Nanjing, the National Defense Information Institute in Wuhan, the Xi’an Communications College, the Electrical Engineering Institute in Hefei, and the College of Meteorology and Oceanography in Nanjing. The Institute of International Relations in Nanjing is a key training centre for intelligence officers.

NUDT is known for its research on supercomputers, autonomous vehicles, hypersonic missiles and China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System. The university developed the Tianhe-2A supercomputer at the National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou, the world’s fastest supercomputer from 2013 to 2016. NUDT’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer is based at Hunan University’s National Supercomputing Center Changsha (国家超级计算长沙中心).

For over a decade, NUDT has aggressively leveraged overseas expertise and resources to build its capabilities. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre’s October 2018 report ‘Picking flowers, making honey: The Chinese military’s collaboration with foreign universities’ documented and analysed NUDT’s overseas presence. The report found that by 2013 the university had sent over 1,600 of its professors and students to study and work abroad. Universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands and Germany engage in some of the highest levels of collaboration with NUDT. Some of NUDT’s leading experts on drone swarms, hypersonic missiles, supercomputers, radars, navigation and quantum physics have been sent to study or work abroad.

Defected Chinese spy Wang Liqiang claimed in 2019 that NUDT’s ‘Intelligence Center’ sent him fake passports for his mission to interfere in Taiwanese politics. This indicates that the university plays an important role in supporting China’s overseas intelligence activity.

NUDT also works with foreign technology companies. Google and Microsoft have both worked with and trained NUDT scientists. ;

Major defence laboratories

Economic espionage and misconduct

NUDT has used Changsha Institute of Technology, a historical name for the university, as cover to hide its military affiliation. NUDT students applying to study overseas are instructed to downplay their military links by removing military courses from their academic records.

Noteworthy international collaborations

NUDT has established party branches abroad, sent over 1,600 students and professors overseas as visiting scholars and students, invited hundreds of foreign professors to its campus to give lectures, and built relationships with universities including New Zealand’s Massey University and the University of Cambridge. Some of its specific overseas ties include:

End-user lists

NUDT is included in Japan End User List for its involvement in missile development. It was also included in the US BIS Entity List in 2015 because it has imported equipment from the United States for its Tianhe-1A and Tianhe-2A supercomputers, which are used in the development of nuclear weapons.

Last updated 23 November 2019. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.