Co-operation between CERN and the People's Republic of China began in the 1970s, initially in accelerator technology and in theoretical physics, soon followed by participation in CERN’s experimental physics programme (ISR-I4/SFM, ALEPH, NA-49 and L3). For the L3 experiment at LEP, the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics provided BGO crystals in the 1980s and the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) worked on the hadron calorimeter.
In 1981, CERN and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, followed by an International Cooperation Agreement (ICA) in 1991 in order to further develop the scientific and technical cooperation in the research projects of CERN. In 1997, CERN and the National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC) signed a new ICA concerning the further development of scientific and technical cooperation in high-energy physics. In 2004, CERN and the government of the People's Republic of China signed another ICA.
In the mid 1990s, IHEP and Peking University joined the CMS collaboration, and subsequently IHEP and the University of Science and Technology (UST), the Universities of Shandong and Nanjing signed up with ATLAS. On behalf of the Chinese funding agencies, the NSFC signed the Memoranda of Understanding for the collaboration with CMS and ATLAS. The Tsinghua University joined LHCb, while the Huazhong Normal University in Wuhan and the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) signed up with ALICE.