Chinese think tanks must be problem solvers and offer practical advice for policymakers.
China held a grand gathering on Dec 18 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and opening-up. During his keynote speech, President Xi Jinping noted that, on the way forward, we must bear in mind the big picture and strengthen top-level planning, and stay focused on tackling major problems in China`s development by conducting in-depth research and making well-conceived policy decisions.
Xi`s speech pointed out the direction for China`s future development, and furthermore, put forward requirements for Chinese think tanks.
Think tanks are powerhouses for the country`s innovation and they also play a crucial role in a country`s ideological work and global development strategy. President Xi has made several instructions on the development of Chinese think tanks, indicating the great importance China`s leadership attaches to them.
After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has become the center of gravity in the global economic structure. However, what makes a great country is not only economic and military power, but also its capacity for innovative thinking. The rise of a great country is always accompanied by the status of its think tanks.
China has been lagging behind in knowledge and innovative thinking. It has become urgent to build a group of new-type of think tanks with Chinese characteristics which are able to advise on policymaking for the country`s further development.
China`s deep integration in the process of globalization makes it more susceptible to the uncertainties brought by the rising trend of counter-globalization and anti-globalization. In this context, Chinese think tanks are required to give strong intellectual support to decision-makers.
Regarding the development of think tanks, they should be deeply rooted in the country`s actuality with regard to politics, economy, culture and history. Worldwide, think tanks are embracing diversified development modes. There is no uniform model to follow.
For Chinese think tanks, they should base themselves on China`s national conditions while taking a global view, bearing in mind the mission and responsibility of serving the country and its people. On the basis of that, they need to seek a new model under the guidance of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. In my view, efforts should be made in five aspects as follows.
First, strengthening confidence in the theory of socialism. Chinese thinks tanks need to adhere to the guidance of Marxism, and continuously hone their ability to apply Marxist theories, views and methods in the process of building a new-type of think tank with Chinese characteristics.
Second, building confidence in the Chinese culture and system. The new-type of think tanks with Chinese characteristics are expected to directly advise the decisionmaking institutions of the Communist Party of China and the government, offering suggestions to determine the political orientation, goals, values and functions of Chinese think tanks. In a nutshell, Chinese think tanks should stick to their historic mission of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Third, focusing on solving problems, furthering the interests of the nation and the progress of humans. The value of all thinks tanks hinges on their thorough, in-depth research and targeted, feasible advice on issues related to national development, people`s livelihoods and human destiny.
In the new era, China is faced with unprecedented, complex situations and tasks. Internationally, the world is undergoing turbulent changes, transformation and readjustment, and accelerated adjustment of the global governance system and international order. In the context of multipolarity, economic globalization, IT application and cultural diversity, countries have never been so closely linked to each other.
At home, economic development has switched to the "new normal" track of relatively slower growth. The trends of industrialization, urbanization and IT application have brought China many new opportunities for its modernization drive, as well as many challenges.
Against such a backdrop, Chinese think tanks should hold fast to acute problems and aim to solve them. The solutions should be based on down-to-earth research and aim high to safeguard the nation`s interests and human progress.
Fourth, giving priority to talent cultivation by deepening institutional reform and encouraging innovation. Think tanks are knowledge-intensive organizations, and their core competitiveness lies in high-level human resources. The talent will be always the core for the advisory capacities of think tanks.
Last but not least, increasing the public appeal of China`s stories, so as to make China`s voice heard in the world. This can be realized by innovating our theoretical and discourse systems.
The innovation of Chinese think tanks is projected to give knowledge empowerment to the country`s economy and sustainable development. More importantly, it will help reinvigorate traditional Chinese culture and contribute to global creativity and innovation.
The author is deputy dean and senior fellow of the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China.