Sun Yat-sen University


Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) is designated high risk for its high level of defence research and involvement in the development of nuclear weapons through the Tianhe-2 supercomputer.

SYSU is a leading Chinese university subordinate to the Ministry of Education. In 2018, it come under the joint supervision of MOE and defence industry agency SASTIND. This development indicates that SYSU’s involvement in the defence industry and defence research is growing.

The university has a large defence research budget. In 2018, it spent nearly RMB200 million (AUD41 million) on defence research out of its total research budget of RMB3.1 billion (AUD640 million).

SYSU is linked to the Chinese military through its National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou (国家超级计算广州中心), which was placed on the US Government Entity List in 2015 for its role in nuclear weapons development. The centre was jointly established with the PLA National University of Defense Technology in 2011 to host the Tianhe-2 supercomputer. The supercomputer is operated by the National University of Defense Technology and was the world’s fastest from 2013 to 2015.

Aside from the supercomputer center, SYSU’s Key Laboratory of Information Science is the only known lab focused on defence research and is located within the School of Electronics and Information Technology.

In 2010, the university established a State Secrets Academy (国家保密学院), serving as the third university in China to establish such an institute in partnership with China’s National Administration of State Secrets Protection (国家保密局). The Institute carries out research and training on the protection of state secrets.

Major defence laboratories

Defence and security links

Sun Yat-sen University is a member of the Guangdong Military-Civilian Fusion Industry Alliance (广东省国防科技工业军民融合协会), which focuses on UAV research and development.

In 2013, the National University of Defense Technology signed a strategic cooperation agreement with TDG-Tech in order to further develop the supercomputer production base. This cooperation represents an effort to strengthen military-civilian fusion in the field of supercomputing. ;

Noteworthy international collaborations

In 2012, Sun Yat-sen University launched a Joint Institute of Engineering (JIE) with Carnegie Mellon University. Additionally, CMU and SYSU launched the Shunde International Joint Research Institute with Shunde District in Foshan City.

End-user lists

SYSU’s National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou (NSCC-GZ) is included on the US Government Entity List for its involvement in the development of nuclear weapons.

SYSU was added to the US Government’s Unverified List in October 2020, which places restrictions on US exports to the university. Entities are added the Unverified List if the US Government is unable to satisfactorily carry out end-user checks on them to ensure compliance with export licenses.

Last updated 8 December 2020. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.