Cambridge University and the Chinese military

UK-China Transparency: Cambridge University’s Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) are involved in collaborative research involving a scientist who has served as a politician in China and in the People’s Liberation Army.

A report by the UK-China Transparency (UKCT) on Cambridge University’s collaboration with Chinese military entities examines a scientific collaboration between Cambridge and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and an executive training programme at Cambridge University of officials from China’s state-owned arms companies.

  1. Cambridge University’s Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) has received over £2 million from CASC, a state-owned Chinese arms manufacturer that is the main supplier of China’s space programme.
  2. CAPE and CASC are involved in a programme of joint collaborative research. The most recent focus has been on smart manufacturing. Past projects have related to fibre optic sensing technology, digital antenna systems, and opto-electronic oscillators, a fundamental technology for aerospace engineering.
  3. A leading scientist from CASC who has also served as a politician in China and in senior roles within the People’s Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party, serves on CAPE’s steering committee.
  4. Cambridge University’s website refers to this programme as a partnership not with CASC but with the ‘Beijing Institute of Aerospace Control Devices’ (BIACD), a relatively little-used English-language alias for one of CASC’s subsidiaries. Cambridge’s website makes no reference to CASC or to BIACD’s military work, but Cambridge has said it is aware of BIACD’s identity.

Executive training of cadres from Chinese arms manufacturers at Cambridge:

  1. A charity called the Cambridge China Development Trust runs a training programme for executives from state-owned Chinese companies. This includes state-owned arms manufacturers. UK-China Transparency has identified a number of senior executives from such companies who have taken part in the training programme.
  2. The programme has historically enjoyed the support of HM Government and involved sessions at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
  3. The programme has also featured sessions focused on high technology and involved at least one tour of a leading physics laboratory in Cambridge.

Read the full report here by the UK-China Transparency (UKCT) and on



This report is the first part of a rolling project UK-China Transparency’s Cambridge China Files and was authored and published by UK-China Transparency, a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) regulated by the United Kingdom's Charity Commission, with charity number 1201902.

Copyright © 2023 UK-China Transparency.

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