Through research funding, print and online publications, and expert testimony to commissions, among other activities, the Brookings Institution’s China initiative—the John L. Thornton China Center—provides analysis, facilitates dialog, and gives recommendations on issues of Chinese domestic development and implications of China’s policies for the global economy and security.

The Brookings Institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit public policy organization that conducts research and analysis on topics of global concern. The John L. Thornton China Center assesses issues in the general areas of Chinese domestic challenges, economics and trade, energy, and foreign policy. The Center opened offices in Washington, D.C., in 2006 and created the Brookings-Tsinghua Center on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2007.

One Brookings Institution report concerning Chinese domestic challenges addresses a proposal for land reform. Cheng Li, senior fellow at the China Center, published an analysis of this proposal that focuses on China’s ability to deal with the socioeconomic consequences of incentives for land transfer and for rural laborers to move to urban areas. Another example in this context is a 2008 panel discussion of religion in China, moderated by the China Center and attended by representatives of Chinese Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, Protest, and Daoist communities. In the area of economics and trade, a commentary on Chinese imports by Jeffrey Bader of the China Center focused on reasons for product safety issues, including fragmentation of the manufacturing sector in China. Testimony from China Center fellow Erica Downs to the United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission discussed China’s new National Energy Administration and its potential for governing the energy sector, along with an analysis of implications of how China’s efforts to secure energy abroad might affect the United States. Analyses of China’s foreign policies consider not only United States–China relations but also China’s relations with its neighbors. For example, a report by fellows of the Brookings Institution discusses potential impacts of changes in recruitment, training, and education of the Chinese military.

The Brookings Institution’s China Center is named for its benefactor. John L. Thornton, who retired in 2003 from the presidency of the Goldman Sachs Group, is chairman of the board of trustees of Brookings and is professor and director of the global leadership program at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. The first director of the China Center was Jeffrey Bader, whose government career included positions in the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Trade Representatives Office. Bader, who served as National Security Council director for Asian affairs in the Clinton administration, accepted the same position in the Obama administration in 2009.

Further Reading

Bader, J. (1997). Sino-American relations and U.S. policy options. Statement before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Retrieved September 15, 2008, from

Bader, J. (2007). Q&A on Chinese imports. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from

Downs, E. (2008). China’s energy policies and their environmental impacts. Retrieved January 28, 2009 from

John L. Thornton China Center—the Brookings Institution. (2008). Retrieved September 15, 2008, from

Mychasuk, E., & E. Terazono. (2007). Goldman’s China. Financial Times Magazine. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from

Religion in China: Perspectives from Chinese religious leaders and officials. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from

A long march starts from the very first step.

千里之行, 始于足下

Qiān lǐ zhī xíng, shǐ yú zú xià

Source: The Editors. (2009). Brookings Institution. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 217–218. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Brookings Institution (Bùlǔjīnsī Xuéhuì 布鲁金斯学会)|Bùlǔjīnsī Xuéhuì 布鲁金斯学会 (Brookings Institution)

Download the PDF of this article