After years of rapid economic growth, China is now the world's second largest economy. An intriguing explanation for this success suggests that national policies centered on robust innovation and investment in technology are a powerful source of economic growth and national competitive advantage. This dissertation investigates the intersection of ideas-driven growth theory, the national competitiveness framework and the national innovation systems concept. In particular, it focuses on how linkages between local technology clusters and regional/sectoral/national systems of innovation support economic development in China.This mixed-methods analytical study begins with a broad overview of China's science, technology and innovation policies and then narrows to present case studies of two highly innovative and politically important sectors of the economy: renewable energy (solar) and space technology (human space flight). In each sector, the policies, policymaking processes and local economic conditions supporting the systems of innovation are examined. Solar is chosen as a sector with significant exposure to international competition. In contrast, space is a sector with much more limited exposure to competitive market forces. This contrast helps to clarify and highlight the role of Chinese policy and innovation as a factor in national competitiveness.
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