Friday, August 1, 2014

Crackdown at One of China's Top Think Tanks

Discontent is sweeping through the ranks at one of China's most powerful think tanks - the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) - as powerful forces fight over whether CASS should be a propaganda tool or a real think tank.  Here is more from the South China Morning Post:
Government officials lodged accusations in June that the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) - widely regarded as the nation's top think tank - lacks party loyalty and has been "infiltrated by foreign forces."
The academy has long been seen as a stronghold of the mainland's Marxist-Leninist ideologues and a propaganda tool of the Communist Party. But it's also well respected. It is considered one of the world's largest research institutes for social sciences in terms of personnel and physical resources.
More than 4,000 resident scholars - many of them China's best and brightest - work at the academy's 39 research institutes, 180 research centres and one graduate school.
In June the party criticised CASS scholars for not hewing to the party's ideological or political beliefs.
Zhang Yingwei, head of the party's discipline inspection office at CASS, said the academy had been "infiltrated by foreign forces" and "was conducting illegal collusion at politically sensitive times". He also said it had been using academic research as a guise for other purposes and using the internet to promote theories that played into the hands of foreign powers.
Last month, Zhao Shengxuan, vice-president and deputy party chief of CASS, was quoted in the People's Daily as saying the academy would "treat political discipline as a criterion of the utmost importance in the assessment of academics."
Party leaders fear the spread of liberal ideas, which run counter to communist orthodoxy, will undermine the party's rule. Analysts said the latest criticism showed the leadership's unease with the increasing openmindedness of academics.

The article says that in private, some CASS scholars said that recent developments have "sent a psychological chill" through intellectual circles.  It also says that some scholars have publicly expressed concerns that the tightening of ideological controls would distract from their academic research.

Analysts reportedly are saying that the development was part of President Xi Jinping's sweeping ideological campaign to target liberal intellectuals.

In the most recent University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, CASS was rated as the fourth best think tank in China, India, Japan, and Korea.  It was also ranked as the third best government-affiliated think tank in the world, only after the World Bank Institute (WBI) and United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  CASS was also ranked as the 9th best non-US think tank in the world.