News Release

Kenneth Lieberthal Named Senior Fellow and Director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings

July 16, 2009

Kenneth Lieberthal, a noted expert on China, is joining the Brookings Institution as a senior fellow and director of the John L. Thornton China Center, President Strobe Talbott announced.

Dr. Lieberthal has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he was Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Political Science and William Davidson Professor of Business Administration. He is also a visiting fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings.

Lieberthal will join Brookings September 1, succeeding Jeffrey Bader, who currently serves as the senior director for Asian affairs on the White House National Security Council.

“The John L. Thornton China Center has established itself as a vital source of cutting-edge analysis and recommendations for policy-makers and thought-leaders in both the U.S. and China,” Talbott said. “With a renowned and experienced hand like Ken at the helm, the Center will build on its strength, momentum, and reputation.”

“I’m very pleased to be joining Brookings in this new role, having worked with Brookings scholars for many years,” Lieberthal said. “U.S.-China relations continue to evolve rapidly and now encompass the most pressing issues of our time—challenges such as climate change and clean energy, the global economic crisis and nuclear proliferation. These issues offer crucial new opportunities to shape U.S.-China relations and influence global developments. It is an auspicious time for the Thornton China Center to play a major role in understanding China’s ongoing changes and to help to inform good public policy.”

Lieberthal served as special assistant to the president for national security and senior director for Asia at the White House National Security Council from 1998 through 2000, and holds a Ph.D. in political science and two M.A.s from Columbia University. He is the author or coauthor of 15 books and monographs, including Governing China: From Revolution to Reform (W.W. Norton, 2004), one of the most widely used textbooks on China, and “Overcoming Obstacles to U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change,” a recently published Brookings Institution monograph co-authored with former Brookings senior fellow David Sandalow. 

The John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings, established in 2006, develops timely, independent analysis and policy recommendations to help U.S. and Chinese leaders address key long-term challenges, both in terms of U.S.-China relations and China’s development. As part of its mission it runs the Brookings-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, which facilitates research projects by Chinese and American scholars and hosts seminars, panels and conferences at Tsinghua University.

Lieberthal received his B.A. from Dartmouth College. He has a long association with Brookings, conducting research as a visiting fellow in 2000, 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. He has consulted widely on Chinese and Asian affairs and has served as a consultant for the U.S. Departments of State, Defense and Commerce as well as for the World Bank, among others. He serves on the boards of directors/advisors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the East-West Center, Tsinghua University’s Center for China in the World Economy and many other organizations.

Lieberthal is married to Jane Lindsay Lieberthal, a former university administrator. He has two sons: Keith and Geoffrey.

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