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Think tanks enhance China-Germany ties, experts say

By Zhang Zhouxiang | | Updated: 2016-09-26 11:00

China has been investing huge resources and energy in the construction of think tanks for years and its think tanks are prospering. But they and their German colleagues have a lot to learn from each other, said Dr. Josef Braml, a researcher at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Braml offered his assessment at the symposium, Think tanks and the China-Germany Relationship, held at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU)on Saturday. In his speech, Braml analyzed how German think tanks operate to gain influence under their system, in the hope that this will help Chinese think tanks find their own right path.

His comments were echoed by the university's vice president, Professor Jia Wenjian. The rich experiences of foreign think tanks will help China to avoid repeating their mistakes and progress more smoothly, he said.

Wu Jiang, associate professor and vice director of BFSU's German department, which hosted the symposium under the support of the university's Young Faculty Research Fund, emphasized that we should broaden our sights and aim globally for inspiration.

"China has made the right decision by trying to learn from Western countries, despite differences in political system and culture with them", she said. "But the West should not mean the US only. You can get a lot from the German think tanks, too."

Those at German think tanks especially have much in common with their Chinese colleagues. In both countries think tanks are publicly sponsored, which essentially prevents them from serving the narrow interests of certain industries or companies.

"Of course, public financing alone cannot ensure independence of think tanks in Germany", Wu said. "Public regulation, the law and even tradition all help them remain independent from the private interests of a few."

Some German think tanks have been serving the improvement of the China-Germany relationship, too.

For example, Pascal Abb, a researcher from the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, discussed in his symposium presentation how German and European think tanks could play a role in the success of China's grand plan, namely the Belt and Road Initiative. Purposeful interaction with think tanks in the targeted nations is a possibility, he said.

Sun Keqin, an associate researcher at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Chinese think tanks have their influence on the two countries' relationship, too, and listed examples of Chinese think tanks that help promote the bilateral relationship. He expects think-tank cooperation between the two countries to be more frequent in the future.

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