The third National Summit on Evaluation of Humanities and Social Sciences was held by the Chinese Evaluation Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Nov. 30 in Beijing.
Despite great achievements, the development of China’s think tanks still faces problems, said Han Dachuan, vice secretary-general of CASS. Han pointed out the lack of highquality think tanks with significant influence and international reputation as well as a dearth of excellent research.
Some think tanks are enthusiastic about promoting their influence by participating in various social activities but pay little attention to competitiveness in basic studies and fail to provide society with solid research, he added.
The nature of think tanks requires problem-oriented research that provides constructive policies and suggestions, said Fan Gang, president of the China Development Institute in Shenzhen. Think tank research is not the same as pure academic studies, which may simply identify and criticize the existing problems, whereas think tanks should offer practical solutions, Fan said.
The research of Chinese think tanks should take the actual situation of China as the starting point, said Li Guanghui, vice-president of Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. For example, studies are urgently needed on how to combine China’s experiment on domestic free trade zones with the theories and practices of global free trade area networks, which normally have higher standards.
Li said China is now actively adjusting to international economic and trade rules as well as to global economic development. For China’s voice to be heard and Chinese elements to be found in the establishment of international rules, Chinese think tanks should provide the nation with ways and measures, he said.
To improve the global influence of China’s think tanks, policymakers should first reduce and simplify limitations and administrative procedures for introducing international researchers, said Yang Mu, executive president of the Institute of Public Policy at the South China University of Technology. Also, the procedures for managing international academic communication should be simplified, Yang said.
And the nation should encourage China’s think tanks to establish foreign branches abroad so that the observation and first-hand materials attained in this way may provide the nation with more accurate and reliable information when making foreign policy, Yang said.
Participants at the summit also urged China’s think tanks to further refine the evaluation system. Zhao Kejin, deputy director of the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University, said evaluation will contribute to the improvement of the macro-environment and micro-operation mechanism of think tank development. In this way, think tanks may elevate their vitality and competitiveness, he added.
Fan suggested that think tanks should not try to grasp everything but rather specialize in a single domain. For example, some are better at policy consultation while others have advantages in public diplomacy. And the design of the evaluation system should take into account these differences, he said.