Thornton China Centre appoints new director


Cheng Li, one of the world’s leading authorities on Chinese leadership and generational change, has been named director of the John L. Thornton China Cente at the Brookings Institute.

Li has served in the center as a senior fellow since 2007 and as director of research since 2009. His areas of expertise include the Chinese middle class, elite politics, public health and tobacco control, Sino-U.S. educational exchanges, the role of think tanks and the Chinese telecommunications industry.

He has also spearheaded the Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series, a set of volumes that introduces prominent Chinese thinkers to English language readers.

Stroble Talbot, President of the Brookings Institute, said: “I am pleased that Cheng has agreed to serve as director of the Thornton China Center while still providing timely analysis of important developments in China.  Cheng has demonstrated a unique ability to incorporate diverse perspectives into his research, helping to bridge cultural divides and better inform policymakers and the public in the United States, China, and around the world.”

Li grew up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution and enrolled in graduate study in the United States in the 1980s. He received an MA in Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in political science from Princeton University.

Before joining Brookings, Li served as William R. Kenan Professor of Government at Hamilton College. He is also a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member and former vice chair of the Committee of 100, a leading non-profit organization of prominent Chinese-Americans.

Ted Piccone, acting vice president and director of the Foreign Policy programme at Brookings, said:“Cheng will be a great team leader for the many world-renowned scholars in the China Center as they continue to analyze China’s rise.  I am confident he will identify innovative ways to engage a global audience on the future of the U.S.-China relationship.”

The Brookings Institution launched the John L. Thornton China Center in 2006, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and an office in Beijing in partnership with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University. The Center undertakes cutting-edge research, analysis, and publications on China’s emergence and its internal, regional and global implications.

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