Changing Windows on a Changing China

The Evolving Think Tank System and the Case of the Public Security Sector

Published in: The China Quarterly v. 171, no. 1, 2002, p. [559]-574

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2001

by Murray Scot Tanner

The entrepreneurial second generation of Chinese policy research institutes (often called think tanks) that emerged during the 1980s played a pivotal role in the policy process of reform. Since Tiananmen, China's growing commercialization is spawning a third generation of think tanks characterized by even more ambiguous links to sponsoring leaders and institutions, greatly expanded commercial links, greater exposure to Western theories and techniques, and the gradual emergence of wide-ranging policy communities. The extent of this change varies greatly across policy sectors, however. Generational change is evident in China's previously unstudied network of public security (police) think tanks. Though clearly still of the second generation' variety, these institutes have been in the forefront of importing and incorporating more sophisticated crime-fighting techniques and less class-based and conspiratorial theories of crime and social unrest.

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