How China Can Strengthen Its Economy by Investing in High-Technology Applications

For Release

February 13, 2009

A new study from the RAND Corporation examines how China's Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA) and Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) can best spur regional development and economic growth by focusing on emerging high-technology applications.

China's Tianjin municipality is one of four administrative regions containing a large urban core that report directly to China's central government, and includes one of China's largest container ports on the Bohai Bay, southeast of Beijing. In 2006, TBNA was established within the Tianjin municipality along the east coast, and was given the mission to become the next regional engine for economic growth, focusing on high-technology applications, leading-edge research, and international shipping and logistics. TEDA, which was established in 1984, is the industrial and manufacturing hub of TBNA.

"Because of the size and likely continued growth of China, managing that growth sustainably with more efficient use of resources and less pollution is in everyone's best interest," said Richard Silberglitt, lead author of the study and a senior physical scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "TBNA and TEDA's pursuit of the technology applications we recommend will also provide opportunities for nations with all levels of science and technology capacity to productively engage China as it moves forward, both as consumers of China's products and suppliers of advanced technologies."

Despite strong economic growth in the past few decades, China still has a number of pressing challenges, including the need to reduce rural poverty, provide for a large and rapidly aging population, meet the population's health and sanitation needs, meet growing energy demands, address water shortages, reduce pollution, and sustain high economic growth. The RAND study took those national concerns into account, together with the missions of the two regions. It also analyzed the factors that can facilitate and hinder implementation of technologies, and the capacity available to TBNA and TEDA, to evaluate which technology applications would be the most feasible and productive for them to pursue.

The RAND report recommends that TBNA and TEDA focus on seven promising technology applications: cheap solar energy; advanced mobile communications and radio-frequency identification; rapid bioassay tests to quickly detect the presence or absence of specific pathogens or toxins, e.g., in blood, food, air, or water; membranes, fabrics and catalysts for water purification; molecular-scale drug design, development and delivery; electric and hybrid vehicles; and "green" manufacturing.

English and Chinese language versions of the study, "The Global Technological Revolution, China: Emerging Technology Opportunities for the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA) and the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA)" can be found at For more information or to arrange an interview with researchers, contact Lisa Sodders in the RAND Office of Media Relations at or (310) 393-0411, ext. 7139.

About the RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.