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Think tanks submit their development suggestions

2012-08-24 09:15 China Daily     Web Editor: Liu Xian comment

From January to March this year, think tanks across the country were asked for suggestions on national policies related to their field of research ahead of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

"Government departments asked for opinions from experts in certain fields, and they conducted research before drafting reports for the committee," said Hu Angang, president of the Institute for Contemporary China Studies at Tsinghua University.

Hu and his team of more than 30 researchers and graduate students have submitted seven reports to different government departments. This time, the institute focused on how to establish an all-around affluent society, which is a key goal for the government.

The report to the Central Committee often contains several dozen topics, and the government assigns each topic to a different think tank.

"I was told the three months of research included almost all the important think tanks and scholars in the country," said Hu, who described the process as "Chinese-style democratization of public decision-making".

"We look for China's future strategic targets and design a plan that encompasses the economy, politics, culture, society and the environment."

Hu said the origins of this tradition can be traced back to the 8th National Congress of the Party in 1956. At that Congress, Liu Shaoqi, who was elected chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in 1954, gave a speech on behalf of the Party based on his research and studies conducted by the former chairman Mao Zedong and former premier Zhou Enlai.

However, during the years of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), instead of collecting the opinions of a wide range of experts, Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan, members of the so-called Gang of Four, wrote the reports for the Central Committee. It was not until 1982 and the 12th National Congress of the CPC that the Central Committee resumed democratization of the decision-making process by authorizing the soliciting of suggestions from think tanks.

Hu's team has been doing research for the CPC National Congress since 2006 and for China's five-year plans since 1999. They have produced a series of collected reports called "China Study" since 1998, sending them through internal channels to about 300 government officials at the provincial and ministry level. The reports cover five major topics, namely the economy, politics, society building, the environment, and China's relationship with the rest of the world. A selection of these reports will be available to the public for the first time when they are published later this year.

A book produced by the Institute for Contemporary China Studies called China in 2030: Toward Common Prosperity, was published in October last year. The book was given to many officials, including every member of the drafting group for the report submitted to the upcoming congress.

Hu said that in his view establishing a greener development model is the most important challenge facing China at present.

The institute has drawn up a plan that encompasses the central government, local governments and industry.

"What should be China's development path? This was the basic question for our study. China's development path should be different from that of other countries, not just different for the sake of being different, but because it needs to take into account our own circumstances and our own interests," Hu said.

In April, Hu published a book, China: Innovative Green Development, which is due to be published in English by Springer, a leading global scientific publisher. Hu hopes the book will enter the libraries of universities worldwide.

"The most crucial part of a think tank lies in its ability to innovate and influence people continuously, especially policymakers," he said. "That's why we are actively seeking to build up our international influence."

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