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Wang Huiyao: Chinese Think Tanks Need to Make Continuous Innovation in All Dimensions

Source: china.com.cn Date: 2016-07-07
On June 6, the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), the largest think tank in China, co-hosted the 2016 China Think Tank Innovation Summit in Beijing with TTCSP of the University of Pennsylvania, the Think Tank Research and Publication Center of the Guangming Daily and the Development Research Institute of Southwest University of Economics and Finance. It is the first high-level summit on think tank innovation, which brought together experts, scholars, practitioners and media representatives at home and abroad. They exchanged experiences on China’s think tank innovation, analyzed challenges facing think tanks and made policy proposals on innovative development of think tanks.

CCG Director Wang Huiyao stressed the need for Chinese think tanks to make continuous innovation on research, operation models, human resources development, theoretical support and institutional reform so as to improve quality and build comparative strength as they take an active part in global governance and stand out in global competition.

After the adoption of Guidance on Developing New-type Think Tanks, Chinese think tanks have grown fast into a golden era thanks to the strong commitment from the central government. The 13th Five-Year Plan set a goal to build 50-100 high-end think tanks in China. At the meeting on philosophy and social sciences, General Secretary Xi Jinping spoke on the importance of build new-type think tanks and expressed his expectations.

Think tanks are intellectual support organizations and sources of innovation for a country. They are also the symbol of a country’s soft power and discourse power. As think tanks play an increasingly important role in socio-economic development and international affairs, they are, to a large extent, seen as a reflection of the governance capability of a country or region. At a time when fast changes are taking place in world economic and political landscape and transition is under way in China’s economy, think tanks are more and more important to policy and decision making in China. New technologies such as big data, super computer, mobile Internet and new media present a fast changing environment for think tanks with an explosion of information.

China is now implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan. China has a huge economy. For decision making to be scientific and democratic, the participation of think tanks is needed. China’s think tanks therefore face unprecedented opportunities as well as new challenges and problems. It is an imperative for them to achieve innovative development. It is of great importance for experts to come together to discuss issues related to think tanks, share international experiences and enhance the role of think tanks in China’s decision making.

In the face of new tasks and strategic opportunities in and outside the country, Chinese think tanks must make continuous innovation on research, operation models, human resources development, theoretical support and institutional reform so as to improve quality and build comparative strengths as they take an active part in global governance and gain a favorable position in global competition.

To analyze the challenges facing think tanks and develop policy advice on think tank innovation in China, the Center for China and Globalization, the largest think tank in China, co-hosted with TTCSP of the University of Pennsylvania, the Think Tank Research and Publication Center of Guangming Daily and the Development Research Institute of Southwest University of Economics and Finance the 2016 China Think Tank Innovation Summit in Beijing. It is the first high-level summit on think tank innovation, which brought together experts and think tank representatives at home and abroad. They exchanged experiences on China’s think tank innovation. Well-known media outlets were also invited to the meeting to help publicize the insightful ideas put forward at the meeting.

As the host of the summit, I encourage you to fully express your views and I look forward to hearing your insights. CCG will work with colleagues in China and beyond to provide intellectual support for China’s development.

Think Tanks Help Strengthen Democratic and Scientific Decision Making

The meeting is the first summit China has held on think tank innovation. In the context of development transition in China, people are watching closely where China’s think tanks will go. Today, we have more than 30 speakers, including those from Chinese think tanks, media and academic institutions, and representatives of foreign think tanks. We all have a sense of mission and believe that think tanks are important for improving China’s image, discourse power and intellectual strength. This is a gathering for brainstorming and will have positive implications for China’s think tank development.

I want to say that think tanks can play a big role in promoting democratic decision-making and democracy in China. For over 60 years, there are eight democratic parties, NPC, CPPCC and research institutes affiliated to ministries which provide policy advice to the government. Now think tanks are emerging fast in China, which expand channels for policy advice, enable people from different sectors to be heard and allow them to participate in democracy in wider areas through more platforms and mechanisms. The importance for scientific and democratic decision can never be underestimated.

We at CCG are doing research on think tanks. We all know Michael Porter’s five forces model. We may also create a similar model for think tanks, which comprises of “policy influence, creativity, research, social communication and international impact”.

Today, we addressed many specific issues, including human resources, operations, fund and development. We also need to tackle new challenges such as leadership, cultural development, strategies, organization and information networks. The recent national meeting on science and technology also stressed the need to make constant innovation, which is what China most needs at the moment.

I want to conclude by saying that think tanks are more important in China than elsewhere. We all know China’s ruling party mobilize all resources possible for big undertakings and the decision making is highly centralized and effective. A correct policy can bring enormous benefits, but a wrong one may spell catastrophes. In this sense, think tanks are crucial for ensuring scientific and democratic decision making.