Sylvia Schwaag Serger was tasked by the Swedish Government Offices with investigating how Sweden should cooperate with China in the areas of innovation, research and higher education. The final report, authored by Sylvia Schwaag Serger and Tommy Shih, identifies different challenges and opportunities for Swedish actors cooperating with China. The authors also suggest a number of steps Sweden should take in future.

Professor Sylvia Schwaag Serger, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Lund University and Chair of STINT’s Board of Directors, was tasked by the Government Offices with developing a knowledge-based report that contributes to the government’s efforts to promote Swedish–Chinese cooperation in innovation, research and higher education. Sylvia Schwaag Serger co-authored the report with Tommy Shih, China policy advisor at STINT and associate professor at Lund University.

The report was presented to Mikael Damberg, Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, on 18 October and this was followed by a seminar at the Government Offices. Around a hundred representatives of the Government Offices, public agencies, Swedish higher education institutions and other lobby groups participated in the
3-hour seminar.

The report was commissioned because at present Sweden has weaker research and innovation ties to China than to North America and Europe. In comparison with North American and other Western European countries, Sweden’s research, innovation and higher education partnerships with China are relatively underdeveloped. At the same time, China has the second largest share of global R&D investments and has recently been ranked among the 20 most innovative countries in the world. Against this backdrop, it is both necessary and desirable for Sweden to develop successful partnerships with China in the areas of research, innovation and higher education.

The report identifies several important reasons for the Swedish business, research, higher education and public sectors to further develop partnerships with China: access to markets, knowledge and expertise, global challenges demanding global cooperation, and science diplomacy. The report argues that partnerships ought to be based on mutual benefit as well as awareness of differences in laws and norms (for example as regards privacy, proprietorship, individual rights and legal certainty), but also the view of the relationship between the state and individuals. Swedish actors should further take into account the fact that China today is a financial, military and technological superpower that is rapidly gaining influence and importance.

To enable Sweden to handle this rapid, complex development in a better way, Schwaag and Shih suggest a number of points that the government ought to focus on that will create better opportunities for promoting meaningful strategic Swedish-Chinese partnerships:

  • Analysing Swedish higher education institutions’ current partnerships, ambitions and needs for support
  • Analysing some successful examples from other countries
  • Investigating the possibilities of collecting and reinforcing China-related expertise by establishing a centre/institute for China Studies that can support politicians and other actors by providing knowledge and interpreting trends
  • Investigating the possibilities of more China-related teaching in compulsory and upper-secondary schools
  • Investigating the possibilities of collaborating with other countries in specific issues related to China
  • Establishing a platform for policy exchange/dialogue with China (e.g. innovation policy platform)
  • Reviewing presence in China based on needs (targeted trend analysis, promotion, research, innovation and development partnerships and exchanges, coordination)

The authors of the report want to present the government with a number of suggested improvements to the promotion of Swedish–Chinese relations in innovation, research and higher education. They also emphasise that Swedish actors ought to develop better knowledge of and a more systematic approach towards China

Read more about the report at 
The Government Offices of Sweden
(in Swedish)