Peking University


Peking University (PKU) is designated high risk for its involvement in defence research and links to China’s nuclear weapons program

PKU is considered among China’s most prestigious universities with a storied history. It is ranked as one of China’s top two academic institutions, along with Tsinghua University. Unsurprisingly, the university has been included in a number of the PRC’s educational initiatives, including as a Class A institution under the Double First-Class University program.

PKU has been subject to at least two joint-supervision agreements between the Ministry of Education and defence industry agency SASTIND. These agreements, signed in 2012 and 2016, are designed to deepen the university’s involvement in defence research. ;

PKU’s Advanced Technology Institute was founded in 2006 to oversee and develop the university’s defence research. Includes several research centres and supervises the university’s four major defence laboratories. The institute’s research covers semiconductors, nuclear technology, quantum physics, advanced materials, underwater acoustics, satellite navigation and communications, flight propulsion, aerospace engineering and microprocessors.

In 2017, PKU and the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP)—China’s nuclear weapons program—established the PKU–CAEP New Structure Center for Applied Physics and Technology (北京大学-中国工程物理研究院新体制应用物理与技术研究中心). The institution was founded on the basis of the PKU Center for Applied Physics and Technology (北京大学应用物理与技术研究中心) established with CAEP in 2007. The joint centre carries out research on materials, lasers for atomic physics applications, laser plasma physics, computer science and fluid dynamics. PKU’s report on the centre notes that it will serve China’s national defence needs and that CAEP’s deputy director emphasised it should ‘take the path of military-civil fusion’. The joint centre’s honorary director and founding director, He Xiantu, is credited as the developer of China’s first neutron bomb.

PKU takes precautions for the protection of classified information. The university has an office devoted to the secure handling of classified information, hosting regular meetings and training sessions to strengthen the university’s security culture. ; ; ; ; In 2006, the university received security credentials for participation in classified defence research.

Major defence laboratories

Designated defence research areas

SASTIND has designated the following areas at PKU as ‘specialisations with national defence characteristics in short supply’:

Defence and security links

The following laboratories are involved in dual-use research but may not be dedicated defence laboratories:

The PLA Navy and PKU signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement in 2013 at a ceremony attended by then-PLA Navy commander Wu Shengli.

PKU researchers often participate in expos and events related to military-civil fusion, such as high-tech equipment exhibition in autumn 2018. ;

PKU and the Beijing Institute of Technology are among the founders of the Beijing University Technology Transfer Alliance, which is intended to promote commercializing patents and researchers, including in such dual-use and military-relevant sectors as 3D printing and robotics.

Noteworthy international collaborations

Peking University has co-administered the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering along with Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Peking University renewed its academic partnership with Penn State in 2019. This collaboration includes the Smart Sensing Lab as a collaboration between Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology and Beida’s School of Software and Microelectronics.

Peking University has partnered with Microsoft Research Asia to create a Ministry of Education Key Lab, the Microsoft Statistics and Information Technology Laboratory of Peking University, founded in 2005.

In 2019, Peking University officially released the ‘Global Excellence Strategy,’ which was characterized as ‘an international blueprint implemented to respond [to] changes in the new era, expand its reform and broaden Peking University’s global presence,’ including through advancing ‘global strategic partnerships.’

Last updated 20 November 2019. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.