Many states, motivated by circumstances beyond the campus, have conducted reforms in their research university systems across national borders. The rise of an informational society has put knowledge and knowledge production mode into such a significant position that both the state and the society expect the research universities as main producers of up-dated knowledge to be more accountable and more productive. The states often use the resource allocation to exert their influence on the research university system. But the pace and the scale of these reforms are affected by different national configurations, including the financial conditions, the state’s priority and the role of the state. The Chinese research university reform has been initiated in this knowledge-centred informational society. The background is shared with the US, Britain and Norway. But China takes a more technocratic, elitist, and centralized approach than these three countries. By analyzing the driven motif of the Chinese reform and comparing it to the other cases, the author reveals that the Chinese state has some particular concerns due to its political tradition: the research university should catalyze the economy on one hand, and legitimize and stabilize the sovereignty on the other hand. How far this vision can go against the background which requires an open society leaves everyone a question-mark.