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Brookings Launches John L. Thornton China Center

The Brookings Institution announced today the creation of the John L. Thornton China Center, which will focus on the challenges facing modern China and the implications of its growing importance to the United States and the world. The center was established through the generosity of John L. Thornton, chairman of the Brookings Board of Trustees, and will be directed by Senior Fellow Jeffrey A. Bader.

The new center’s mission is to explore the dynamics of China’s emergence as a political and economic power, and to provide recommendations and analysis to inform decision makers in the United States and China.

“I have a strong commitment to the study of China — its past, present, and most of all, its future,” Thornton said today. “What is occurring and what will occur in China is of enormous significance. I expect the China Center to make essential contributions to understanding the factors that influence Chinese society and policy-makers, and to share its conclusions and recommendations with the policy-making community and the public in both the U.S. and China.”

“Based on his unique experience in China, John Thornton has a keen understanding of that country’s role in the world,” said Strobe Talbott, president of Brookings. “And based on his experience in the governance of American public-policy and educational institutions, John also sees the role that Brookings can play in providing sound analysis and recommendations for policy-makers in China and the United States. The John L Thornton China Center will make a crucial, sustained and high-impact contribution to the understanding of U.S.-China relations and to the study of the complex economic, political, environmental and social issues inherent in China’s emergence. All of us at Brookings are grateful for John’s vision, generosity and leadership.”

“In the past decade China has emerged as a major economic power, and is playing a growing role in the global community,” said Bader, who becomes director of the new center today. “I’m extremely pleased that Brookings will be in the forefront of one of the most complex and vital foreign policy challenges today, and for many years to come.”

Bader will guide the agenda of the John L. Thornton China Center, drawing on input from scholars across the Brookings Institution. The team is interdisciplinary, with specialists in foreign policy, international security, economics, energy, and commercial issues. Scholars working within the new center include Jing Huang, Wing Thye Woo, Cheng Li, and Erica Downs.

Thornton’s generosity will also enable Brookings to open an office in Beijing.

Bader served as one of the United States’ leading officials and experts on China through a 27-year career at the Department of State, the National Security Council, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Thornton is currently the director of the Global Leadership Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he also serves as a professor. Thornton retired as president and co-chief operating officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. in July 2003. He was also a member of the firm’s board of directors and its management committee. Thornton was chairman of Goldman Sachs-Asia from 1996 to 1998.

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The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public.

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