As a body under the State Council, the COSC was initiated by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other members of the older-generation proletarian revolutionists in November 1949. Upon the initiative of Mao Zedong, the China Central Institute for Culture and History (CCICH) was set up in July 1951. At present, the two bodies are housed in the same building and operate under the unified leadership of the CPC party group of the COSC.
In accordance with the Regulations on the Work of Government Counsellors (Decree 565 of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China) and the Notice on Strengthening and Improving the Work of Government Institutes for Culture and History (〔2011〕46 issued by the General Office of the State Council), the major role of the COSC is to participate in the discussion of public affairs, make recommendations, consult on state affairs, undertake democratic supervision and promote the united front to forge friendship and the major role of the CCICH is to honor senior citizens and uphold culture, record history, consult on state affairs, enhance cultural progress and promote the united front to forge friendship. In November 2008, upon the approval of State Council leaders, the COSC put in place a fellowship system.
The Counsellors and researchers are appointed by the Premier of the State Council. There are now 57 counsellors, 65 researchers (with the CCICH) and 34 research fellows. Most of them are members of democratic parties or persons with no party affiliation. Some of them are members of the CPC, ranging from experts, scholars to leaders with macro management expertise. In most cases, they are renowned for great talent, virtue and reputation.
In recent years, the COSC has been actively involved in exchanges and cooperation with think tanks in the rest of the world, with ties established with 46 think tanks from 26 countries and regions by now.
Under the COSC and the CCICH, there are the General Office, the Counsellor-Service Department, the Department of International Exchanges and Cooperation, the Researcher-Service Department and the