Northwestern Polytechnical University


Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU) is designated very high risk because of its top-secret secrecy credentials, very high number of defence labs and defence research areas, involvement in illegal exports, and supervision by MIIT.

The university is one of the ‘Seven Sons of National Defence’ subordinate to MIIT. It is heavily engaged in military research, describing itself as ‘devoted to improving and serving the national defence science and technology industry.’ NWPU’s research focuses on aviation, space and naval technology.  Between 2014 and 2018, the university’s School of Mechanics, Civil Engineering and Architecture alone spent nearly RMB200 million (AUD40 million) on defence research projects. ; 41.25% of 2017 NWPU graduates who gained employment were working in the defence sector.

NWPU is known for its development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The only Chinese university hosting a UAV defence laboratory, NWPU produces the ASN series of UAVs though its subsidiary company, Aisheng Technology Group Co., Ltd. The Chinese military is the company’s largest customer and the company once claimed to produce 90% of China’s drones. ; ; p8

The university has close ties to state-owned shipbuilding and aerospace conglomerates.

Major defence laboratories

Designated defence research areas

The 13th five-year plan (2016-2020), NWPU has had 10 defence disciplines approved, making it one of the top universities by number of defence disciplines awarded in this period. Of these, four could be identified:

34 defence disciplines and subjects were supported at NWPU for the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010). In April 2018, SASTIND inspected and accepted the university’s development of these 34 areas which included RMB99 million (AUD20 million) of investment from the university. These areas include

Economic espionage and misconduct

In 2018, the US Department of Justice charged Chinese national Qin Shuren with illegally exporting devices used in anti-submarine warfare to NWPU. The Department of Justice’s press release announcing Qin’s arrest stated: ‘In 2001, the Department of Commerce designated NWPU on its Entity List because of the national security risks it poses to the U.S. NWPU has worked closely with the PLA on the advancement of its military capabilities.’ In April 2021, Qin pleaded guilty to the charges that he smuggled marine technology out of the US to benefit NWPU.

Defence and security links

NWPU runs the Collaborative Innovation Center of Future Aerospace Vehicle, which includes China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center as well as other military-linked universities as members.

Noteworthy international collaborations

NWPU is one of nine Chinese members of the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research.

NWPU signed a MOU with the Slovak Academy of Science (SAS) in 2015. Later in 2019, the two parties signed an agreement to establish a Joint Research Centre. The 2019 agreement mandated that SAS scientists visiting NWPU are entitled to monthly stipends, ranging from RMB 1500 (AUD 300) to RMB 3500 (AUD 700). The 2019 agreement also states that NWPU is entitled to own 50 percent of intellectual property rights produced under the joint research.

End-user lists

NWPU is included in the Japan End User List and US BIS Entity List.

Last updated 6 May 2021. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.