The Beijing Institute of Technology, a government-run research university known for its work on China’s space programme, on Wednesday signed a first of its kind Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Karnataka-based Manipal University paving the way for closer collaboration on joint research projects.

The MoU says both universities will take forward exchanges of students and faculty, and issue dual degrees. They will also undertake cooperative research and development activities.

‘High technology partner’

“This shows that China, under the new leadership, has understood the importance of India as a high technology partner,” said Madhav Das Nalapat, Honorary Director of Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University, who signed the MoU with Wang Ying, director, International Student Centre of BIT.

Manipal University will, on Friday, also sign an MoU with BIT’s sister university, the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in southern Jiangsu province.

Both universities have ties to China’s space programme, and also run research and development programmes related to defence projects.

BIT has a research budget in the range of $500 million, and is among the top five Chinese universities in terms of allocations it receives. Unlike other universities, it is run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and not the Education Ministry.

Complementary strengths

Asked if there were any security concerns in light of recent attention on reported links between some Chinese universities and the People’s Liberation Army’s cyber warfare units, Professor Nalapat said, “It makes no sense for us to avoid dealing with China when every other country in the world is embracing China, even the U.S. and the EU, where universities are having far more in-depth engagement than what we are proposing,” he said.

“Security has to adjust to rapid development, and progress should not be blocked in the name of security. There will be necessary measures to ensure they follow academic protocol. Both India and China have complementary strengths in technology, and it is time these are pooled”.