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Cheng Li

Director - John L. Thornton China Center

Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy

Cheng Li is director of the John L. Thornton China Center and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is also a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Li focuses on the transformation of political leaders, generational change and technological development in China.

Li grew up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. In 1985 he came to the United States, where he received a master's in Asian studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in political science from Princeton University. From 1993 to 1995, he worked in China as a fellow sponsored by the Institute of Current World Affairs in the U.S., observing grassroots changes in his native country. Based on this experience, he published a nationally acclaimed book, "Rediscovering China: Dynamics and Dilemmas of Reform" (1997).

Li is also the author or the editor of numerous books, including "China’s Leaders: The New Generation" (2001), "Bridging Minds Across the Pacific: The Sino-U.S. Educational Exchange 1978-2003" (2005), "China’s Changing Political Landscape: Prospects for Democracy" (2008), "China’s Emerging Middle Class: Beyond Economic Transformation" (2010), "The Road to Zhongnanhai: High-Level Leadership Groups on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress" (in Chinese, 2012), "The Political Mapping of China’s Tobacco Industry and Anti-Smoking Campaign" (2012), "China's Political Development: Chinese and American Perspectives" (2014), "Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership" (2016), and "The Power of Ideas: The Rising Influence of Thinkers and Think Tanks in China" (forthcoming). He is currently completing a book manuscript with the working title "Middle Class Shanghai: Pioneering China’s Global Integration." He is the principal editor of the Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series published by the Brookings Institution Press.

Li has advised a wide range of government, business and non-profit organizations on working in China. He is a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a member of the Academic Advisory Group of the Congressional U.S.-China Working Group, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a director of the Committee of 100. Before joining Brookings in 2006, he was the William R. Kenan professor of government at Hamilton College, where he had taught since 1991.

Li has been a recipient of fellowships or research grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Freeman Foundation, the Peter Lewis Foundation, the Crane-Rogers Foundation, the Emerson Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, Hong Kong Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. From 2002 to 2003, he was a residential fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He is frequently called on to share his unique perspective and insights as an expert on China. He has recently appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, BBC, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, PBS NewsHour, Charlie Rose, Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria and NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, The Economist, Newsweek, Business Week, Foreign Policy magazine and numerous other publications. Li is also a columnist for the Stanford University journal China Leadership Monitor. He is a regular speaker and participant at the Bilderberg Conference.

Affiliations:
21st Century International Review, member, editorial board
Asia Policy, member, editorial board
China Leadership Monitor, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, columnist
China’s Rising Leaders Project, National Bureau of Asian Research, co-chair, advisory committee
Committee of 100, member and co-chair, issue committee
Council on Foreign Relations, member
Institute of Current World Affairs, member
Journal of Public Management, member, editorial board
National Committee on United States-China Relations, member, board of directors
The China Report, India, member, editorial board
Journal of Public Management, member, editorial board
National Committee on United States-China Relations, member, board of directors
The China Report, India, member, editorial board

Cheng Li is director of the John L. Thornton China Center and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is also a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Li focuses on the transformation of political leaders, generational change and technological development in China.

Li grew up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. In 1985 he came to the United States, where he received a master’s in Asian studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in political science from Princeton University. From 1993 to 1995, he worked in China as a fellow sponsored by the Institute of Current World Affairs in the U.S., observing grassroots changes in his native country. Based on this experience, he published a nationally acclaimed book, “Rediscovering China: Dynamics and Dilemmas of Reform” (1997).

Li is also the author or the editor of numerous books, including “China’s Leaders: The New Generation” (2001), “Bridging Minds Across the Pacific: The Sino-U.S. Educational Exchange 1978-2003” (2005), “China’s Changing Political Landscape: Prospects for Democracy” (2008), “China’s Emerging Middle Class: Beyond Economic Transformation” (2010), “The Road to Zhongnanhai: High-Level Leadership Groups on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress” (in Chinese, 2012), “The Political Mapping of China’s Tobacco Industry and Anti-Smoking Campaign” (2012), “China’s Political Development: Chinese and American Perspectives” (2014), “Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership” (2016), and “The Power of Ideas: The Rising Influence of Thinkers and Think Tanks in China” (forthcoming). He is currently completing a book manuscript with the working title “Middle Class Shanghai: Pioneering China’s Global Integration.” He is the principal editor of the Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series published by the Brookings Institution Press.

Li has advised a wide range of government, business and non-profit organizations on working in China. He is a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a member of the Academic Advisory Group of the Congressional U.S.-China Working Group, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a director of the Committee of 100. Before joining Brookings in 2006, he was the William R. Kenan professor of government at Hamilton College, where he had taught since 1991.

Li has been a recipient of fellowships or research grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Freeman Foundation, the Peter Lewis Foundation, the Crane-Rogers Foundation, the Emerson Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, Hong Kong Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. From 2002 to 2003, he was a residential fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He is frequently called on to share his unique perspective and insights as an expert on China. He has recently appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, BBC, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, PBS NewsHour, Charlie Rose, Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria and NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, The Economist, Newsweek, Business Week, Foreign Policy magazine and numerous other publications. Li is also a columnist for the Stanford University journal China Leadership Monitor. He is a regular speaker and participant at the Bilderberg Conference.

Affiliations:
21st Century International Review, member, editorial board
Asia Policy, member, editorial board
China Leadership Monitor, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, columnist
China’s Rising Leaders Project, National Bureau of Asian Research, co-chair, advisory committee
Committee of 100, member and co-chair, issue committee
Council on Foreign Relations, member
Institute of Current World Affairs, member
Journal of Public Management, member, editorial board
National Committee on United States-China Relations, member, board of directors
The China Report, India, member, editorial board
Journal of Public Management, member, editorial board
National Committee on United States-China Relations, member, board of directors
The China Report, India, member, editorial board

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