Profile: China Academy for Information and Communications Technology (CAICT)

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s think tank is more than a brain trust, with significant regulatory roles
Blog Post
Oct. 16, 2018

The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) is subordinate to the powerful Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and is an increasingly important player in all aspects of China’s telecommunications and now digital economy sectors. Formerly known as the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Research (CATR), it is still sometimes referred to by this name in industry circles.

CAICT includes a range of technical departments and experts that provide input to industry on critical issues such as standards, technical trials, and emerging technology sectors such as blockchain and AI that have applications in the information and communications arena. CAICT is a major player in China’s 5G mobile communications network trials, for example. Chinese government ministries are already conducting 5G trials to certify equipment compliance with performance and other technical standards, with the third phase completed in mid-2018. MIIT is overseeing these, with CAICT in particular playing the role of a key technical certifier in the IMT-2020 Promotion Group, a 5G development agency constituted by MIIT, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

CAICT has recently put out a series of white papers, for instance on big data, blockchain, cybersecurity, and AI safety and ethics. These white papers provide substantial technical details about these technologies and how CAICT and MIIT view their impact on the digital economy. They also represent an effort by MIIT to assert a role within key technology sectors at a time when sometimes-competing centers of influence within China’s party-state are together setting technological standards and charting China’s official strategic direction.

Senior CAICT leaders today are frequent participants in industry conferences on advanced technologies, and they write articles and editorials that providing the MIIT view of particular industries and technology trends. CAICT experts also contribute to major policy initiatives and legislation efforts such as the Cybersecurity Law, and sit on key working groups under the TC260 information security standards committee.

CAICT is one of the major so-called third-party technical organizations certified to participate in the cybersecurity review of network products and services, or cybersecurity review regime (CRR), a key component of the Cybersecurity Law. The Academy also is the MIIT body that participates in overseeing key industry alliances, such as the Industrial Internet Industry Alliance, and also maintains subordinate arms covering major aspects of emerging legal and other areas, such as the CAICT Internet Law Research Center.

CAICT is often low-key, but has an outsized influence on the development of China’s ICT sector.

DigiChina has translated: