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China’s new intelligentsia

Despite the global interest in the rise of China, no one is paying much attention to its ideas and who produces them. Yet China has a surprisingly lively intellectual class whose ideas may prove a serious challenge to western liberal hegemony

By Mark Leonard   March 2008

I will never forget my first visit, in 2003, to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing. I was welcomed by Wang Luolin, the academy’s vice-president, whose grandfather had translated Marx’s Das Kapital into Chinese, and Huang Ping, a former Red Guard. Sitting in oversized armchairs, we sipped ceremonial tea and introduced ourselves. Wang Luolin nodded politely and smiled, then told me that his academy had 50 research centres covering 260 disciplines with 4,000 full-time researchers.

As he said this, I could feel myself shrink into the seams of my vast chair: Britain’s entire think tank community is…

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