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Evolution of think-tanks in the People’s Republic of China: Think-tank Reform on the course of being a ‘responsible major power’

The People’s Republic of China is experiencing dramatic changes in terms of its position on the international stage. Beijing is on the brink of transitioning from being a norm-taker to becoming a norm-maker by “contributing Chinese wisdom” to global governance efforts. Beijing has been adopting new strategies and developing new diplomatic routes to ensure the successful management of this process, and calling on the support of Chinese think tanks is one of the most advantageous moves made by the Party leadership. At this point, given the increasing influence of Chinese think tanks (CTTs) on the foreign policy decision-making processes of the PRC, CTTs have become a key component in Chinese foreign policy making, providing a window of analysis for outsiders. This research offers a better understanding of China’s local research institutes by assessing them within the national context, rather than looking upon them from a traditional Western perspective. After examining the development of CTTs in the PRC’s political life from a historical perspective, the study turns focus to the recent developments in the field of think tanks in China. The study seeks to shed light on the overall evolution of CTTs, for which three different time periods are examined so as to observe how think tanks have adopted to the changing political dynamics in the PRC. A brief evaluation of the shortcomings of recent think tank activities in China is presented in the conclusion.


Chinese think-tanks, think-tank reform, Chinese foreign policy making, major country diplomacy


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