CNSA is an agency created in 1993 when the Ministry of Aerospace Industry was split into CNSA and the China Aerospace Corporation (CASC). The former was to be responsible for policy, while the latter was to be responsible for execution. This arrangement proved somewhat unsatisfactory, as these two agencies were, in effect, one large agency, sharing both personnel and management.
As part of a massive restructuring in 1998, CASC was split into a number of smaller state-owned companies. The intention appeared to have been to create a system similar to that characteristic of Western defense procurement in which entities which are government agencies, setting operational policy, would then contract out their operational requirements to entities which were government-owned, but not government-managed.