Xu Guanhua, male, Han nationality, was born in 1941 in Beijing, but his ancestral home is Shanghai. He initially studied forestry, but he subsequently spent many years doing earth sciences research and conducting work on remote sensing applications, principally with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He won several awards for his work.
Xu became vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1994, vice-minister of the State Science and Technology Commission in 1994, and vice-minister of science and technology in 1998, before being appointed minister of science and technology in February 2001.
Xu was a member of the 15th CPC Central Committee and a member of the 9th CPPCC National Committee.