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“I have devoted my entire career to understanding how China works and to trying to prevent hostility between the United States and China. Building the 21st Century China Center is a way for me to integrate these two personal goals. The collaborative research of the social scientists from our center and from China reveals patterns in China’s economic and political system that we need to understand if we aim to improve policy in both countries and preserve a constructive relationship.”

Susan Shirk, PhD Chair, 21st Century China Center




The 21st Century China Center is a social science research center and policy think tank that produces scholarly research and informs policy discussions on China and U.S.-China relations. Inspired by UC San Diego’s creativity in science and technology, the center pushes the frontiers of data-driven research on China and public policy, and puts a premium on collaboration with Chinese scholars. The center’s scholars are respected by policymakers for their insights on China and its role in the world. Their findings are disseminated worldwide through multiple forums, communications channels, and scholarly platforms.

The center is based at UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, which was established to take advantage of our location on the Pacific coast at the intersection of trade, business, and strategic interactions of Latin America and Asia. With its critical mass of China specialists, the center both contributes to and benefits from the School of Global Policy and Strategy’s leadership in Asia-Pacific studies. As San Diego grows as a hub for the wireless communications and biotech industries, the center researchers help technology innovators to better understand the dynamics of markets and regulations defining new avenues for growth in China. The center’s activities enrich the education of students in the School of Global Policy and Strategy and across campus. Center faculty have appointments in the School and other departments. They have developed a new graduate curriculum on China studies, the School’s Master of Chinese Economic and Political Affairs (MCEPA). Students learn from our China scholars how to use cutting-edge methodologies to dig deeply into the economics and politics of China. The center employs students as assistants and apprentices to faculty research, and supports the student-run China Focus blog to bring fresh voices on China to the public.

The China Data Lab is established by the center to join with the UC San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Halicioglu Data Science Institute, cross-campus enterprises blending area studies with data science fundamentals. The Data Lab has formed a consortium with data analytics programs at four leading Chinese universities to jointly innovate methods and strategies for using social media and other types of data to reveal the patterns of Chinese society. In this era of sweeping global change and rising powers, China’s behavior, and U.S. responses, drive international markets, management of global problems, and the risks of military conflict. By deepening understanding between China and the United States, the work of the 21st Century China Center contributes to peace and prosperity for the people of both nations and the rest of the world.


Asia Society teamed up with UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center to undertake our three-year task force on U.S.-China Policy, it could not have picked a better partner. With some of the most interesting research and best minds working on the contemporary policy scene, the 21st Century China Center has become a spark plug of interesting activity, astute analysis and insightful research on this increasingly fraught but important relationship.” Orville Schell Arthur Ross Director Center on U.S.-China Relations Asia Society


“When the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the


Activities of the 21st Century China Center fall into three broad categories: research, policy dialogue and analysis, and communication, much of it done in collaboration with our Chinese partners. RESEARCH


As social scientists race to make the most of big data in the information age, the 21st Century China Center innovates new methods and approaches to understanding how Chinese society actually operates. Our network of Chinese and UC San Diego scholars conducts primary research on Chinese politics, public policy, public opinion, economics and business, technological innovation, and law and society, providing the insight needed by investors, policymakers, educators, and reformers.

To assure maximum impact of the work by 21st Century China Center scholars, we utilize various communications channels for its dissemination, some for the general public interested in understanding the dynamics of the U.S.-China relationship, others focusing on academic counterparts, business leaders, and government policymakers. Center faculty are regularly published and quoted in influential publications like Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Financial Times, China Leadership Monitor, and the South China Morning Post.


Besides academic research, the 21st Century China Center devotes considerable resources to organizing policy dialogues and performing critical policy analysis in areas that affect U.S.-China relations. The 21st Century China Center pursues an energetic agenda of conferences, lectures, panel discussions, and classroom visits by prominent academics and practitioners. Dozens of speakers hosted by the center reach San Diego audiences each year, with many more participating in national and international forums.



Once the domain of scholars schooled in history and anthropology, China studies is entering a new era when contextual knowledge about China is tested, corroborated, and revised by social science methods. In the digital age, the abundance of data, especially unstructured big data, calls out for methodologically rigorous research that can shed light on hitherto unobservable dynamics in Chinese politics, economy, and society. The 21st Century China Center aims to play a vanguard role in pushing the frontiers of data-based research on China. Our efforts do more than increase the availability of text, transactional, and other quantifiable data — we are advancing the application of statistical and other methods in extracting insights from the data. Anchoring the center’s original research is the China Data Lab, which coordinates and supports faculty projects. The Lab integrates existing datasets used by the 21st Century China Center faculty, adds new data streams to that database, conducts training sessions on data research methods, and produces original research articles and books based on analysis of the data collected. Thanks to a U.S.-China consortium, scholars from five partner universities collaborate through workshops, conferences, and joint research projects. Following is a sampling of research projects conducted by our faculty.



As the terms for communication evolve rapidly in the global information age, media control by the Chinese government presents both a challenge and an opportunity for China scholars. Professor Margaret Roberts collects semi-structured data from a variety of Internet sources and integrates them into one unified database. As it develops, researchers will be able to use the database to understand how international and local events are portrayed in Chinese newspapers, social media, and government statements. By extension, patterns and omissions reveal real-time emerging trends in policymaking in the Chinese government. Professor Roberts and her collaborators have already used this type of data to reverseengineer censorship and propaganda policies of the Chinese government, illuminated as much by what disappears as by what remains. Professor Margaret Roberts

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In one study, Roberts examined usage activity from mainland China of prohibited websites after the Chinese government blocked access to Instagram. Activity spikes of prohibited websites coincided with the date of censorship, suggesting that users adjusted by seeking out evasion technology to avoid censorship restrictions.








Professor Margaret Roberts analyzes data related to social media activity to learn about the consequences of Chinese censorship and the nature of how social media is used for propaganda.


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Another study documents social media posts made by Chinese government employees at the direction of local propaganda offices, part of the so-called “Fifty Cent” party. Using a leaked dataset of posters, Roberts discovereds that these online propagandists spread positive “cheerleading’’ messages while avoiding arguing with critics.



Professor Ruixue Ja, renowned for analysis of contemporary and historical elites



Access to elite education is a critical channel for social mobility in most modern societies. China presents an especially illuminating case, with data on the results of sweeping policy choices from starkly contrasting regimes. Professor Ruixue Jia focuses on elite formation and elite influence, in both historical and modern contexts. In one major study, she examines how the abolition of China’s civil service examination system in 1905 impacted the 1911 revolution; in another, she studies how competence and loyalty jointly determines the prospect of promotion for the politicians in China today. Innovative exploration fusing historical data, economics methodology, and significant political questions increases our understanding of how elites are characterized, and the degree to which commonly recognized gateway opportunities influence their formation.

Viewing Chinese ideology solely through official statements enables only a static, one-dimensional understanding of its influence on public values, aspirations, and civic engagement. Until recently, China scholars have been unable to assess the political attitudes of individual citizens because traditional survey methods are curtailed by the government. Harnessing the power of newly developed technology, Professor Yiqing Xu has already gained renown for a large-scale online survey of the ideology of the Chinese public. Going forward, he will apply his approach to new projects, such as comparing the ideological beliefs of the general public and political elites, researching how media shape policy preferences, and examining how overseas education changes Chinese students’ ideological orientation. Better survey methods will yield a more nuanced understanding of political attitudes in China, enabling the scholars to further study the emergence of political cleavages, the dynamics of social conflict, and the direction of political development. Professor Yiqing Xu, assessing ideological tendencies through innovative methods



The rise of Chinese multinational corporations represents both a sea change in the structure and performance of the Chinese economy and a shift in global economic dynamics. To better understand Chinese multinationals, Professor Weiyi Shi and her collaborators collect firm-level data on the role of Chinese corporations in the global economy. Their research will also help analysts gain better understanding of the link between the firms’ overseas economic activities and China’s foreign policy. China’s economic statecraft has raised anxiety in the international policy community about whether China will remain a peaceful presence in future geopolitics. Professor Shi’s research will shed light on this question. Professor Weiyi Shi, whose research offers insights into the workings of Chinese multinationals

Professor Tai Ming Cheung, internationally recognized expert on security in the Asia-Pacific region


Professor Tai Ming Cheung leads research into how China sets goals for science and technology development, plans to reach those goals, and the global implications of its strategies. In 2015, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation published “Planning for Innovation: Understanding China’s Plans for Technological, Energy, Industrial, and Defense Development,” a report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission representing 10 years of multi-sector data collection and research. Ongoing analysis examines such issues as Chinese foreign investment in technology and ensuing diplomatic frictions.



Professor Barry Naughton, expert on Chinese economic reform and policies affecting their growth


China’s rapid economic transformation is a defining mark of 21st-century dynamics. Less well understood are the specific policy frames underpinning these changes — namely how the basic governance strategy of the Chinese Communist Party structures interactions between the economic and the political. In recent years Professor Barry Naughton, holder of the Sokwanlok Chair of International Affairs, has turned his attention to studying succeeding waves of techno-industrial policy and their degree of institutionalization by the Chinese government. His findings provide economists, political scientists, and policy analysts the rich context necessary for isolating specific decisions and evaluating their impact.


Although political scientists have long theorized about the internal politics of authoritarian regimes, few have systematically studied how authoritarian leaders fashion coalitions to stay in power, and what impact these coalitions have on promotion patterns and policies. Understanding the routes to power will better characterize the current regime and anticipate future transformations. Professor Victor Shih has built extensive biographical databases on China’s political elites, and he is working to expand the scope of his dataset. With his collection, researchers can systematically analyze career mobility, elite networks, interest groups, and how various factions impact Chinese politics and foreign policy. Scholars debated for decades whether factional ties impacted individual careers in China. Data collected in this project has resolved the question in the affirmative. Professor Victor Shih, forging new territory in the study of Chinese elites

Professor Victor Shih and his student Jonghyuk Lee use the biographical data of Chinese elite to produce this chart that shows respective size of factions connected to the 18th Politburo Standing Committee members.


“Qualcomm is proud to have UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center as our hometown academic partner. The center scholars provide unparalleled insight into the dynamic and challenging business environment in China.” Donald J. Rosenberg Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary Qualcomm, Inc.





To make recommendations to the new U.S. administration on key issues in its relationship with China, the 21st Century China Center partners with the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations to create a task force consisting of some of the country’s leading China scholars and former U.S. foreign policy makers. The Task Force’s first report provided a comprehensive critical review of U.S. policy toward China with recommendations for the future. The Task Force is continuing to meet and will focus on a number of the most pressing policy dilemmas in the coming years.

California and Shanghai — including the surrounding Yangtze River Delta Region — stand as leading regional innovation hubs. Organized jointly by the 21st Century China Center, Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, and UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, the California-Shanghai Innovation Dialogue gathers prominent Chinese and American business executives, policy experts, scientists, and scholars to discuss the state of innovation and debate innovation policies in California and Shanghai.


Together with Fudan University’s Center for American Studies, the 21st Century China acts as a co-convener of the U.S.-China University Think Tank Dialogue on Bilateral Relations. Experts from the U.S. and China engage in intensive discussions about bilateral relations based on research done by scholars of both countries.

Industry pioneers join researchers, policy experts, and UC San Diego campus leaders at the Cailfornia-Shanghai Innovation Dialogue



This forum, established by 21st Century China Center founders Kwan and Marion So, brings top leaders and thinkers from China and elsewhere to offer front-line insights and analysis of the most pressing economic and political trends in China. Recent speakers include: Stapleton Roy delivering the 2016 Robert F. Ellsworth Memorial Lecture ROBERT F. ELLSWORTH MEMORIAL LECTURE SERIES

• Professor Yu Keping, Dean of the School of Government, Peking University (2016) • Professor Qian Yingyi, Dean of the School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University (2015)

The Robert F. Ellsworth Memorial Lecture is named after Ambassador Robert “Bob” Ellsworth (1926-2011), a highly respected public servant who had a diverse and illustrious career as a lawyer, politician, statesman, and diplomat. The Ellsworth Lecture Series brings prominent China policy practitioners to campus to offer their strategic vision for the future of U.S.-China relations. Past speakers include: • Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, former US Trade Representative, and Senior International Partner, WilmerHale (2017) • Ambassador J. Stapleton (Stape) Roy, Distinguished Diplomat and Founding Director Emeritus, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States (2016) • Robert D. Hormats, Vice Chair of Kissinger Associates, Inc. and former Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Environmental Affairs (2015) • Ambassador Clark T. Randt, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China (2014) • Jeffrey Bader, former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (2009-2011) and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution


Peking University’s Yu Keping delivering the 2017 Sokwanlok Lecture CHINA THOUGHT LEADERS

The 21st Century China brings eminent Chinese thought leaders to the School of Global Policy and Strategy so they can interact with the faculty, students, and community members. In 2016, the program was piloted with a visit by Wang Shuo, chief editor of the Caixin Media, one of the most influential Chinese media on business and finance. Under the auspices of the Center on Global Transformation’s Pacific Leadership Fellows program, the center brings additional business and policy leaders to UC San Diego to engage in dialogue, research, and instruction with students, alumni, faculty, and the San Diego community.

From 2012 to 2017, the center has welcomed eight Pacific Leadership Fellows from China, including: • James Ding, Managing Director, GSR Ventures • Cai Fang, Vice-President, Chinese Social Science Academy • Xia Guang, Director General, Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, Ministry of Environment Protection • Lu Xuedu, Advisor, Climate Change and Carbon Market, Asian Development Bank • Yu Keping, Dean, School of Government, Peking University • Charles Zhang, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Sohu.com • Ma Zhong, Dean and Professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University • Ji Zou, Deputy Director General, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, National Development and Reform Commission


China’s Fudan University has established an overseas China studies center, the FudanUC Center on Contemporary China at UC San Diego, catalyzing close cooperation with the 21st Century China Center. The two centers have worked together to create a network of young scholars dedicated to rigorous research on China. In addition, the 21st Century China Center has ongoing joint projects with Tsinghua University in Beijing and East China Normal University in Shanghai. An international consortium of research institutes focusing on data analytics will deepen collaboration between scholars in China and the United States. Beyond the academy, the 21st Century China Center has cooperated with government think-tanks, nonprofit organizations and business partners to utilize various data streams for analysis. The center’s agility in making new connections will be key to novel research projects on contemporary China.

Dean Peter Cowhey of the School of Global Policy and Strategy joins Ji Zou for a panel discussion on climate change in Beijing


Leadership of 21st Century China Center and UC San Diego join counterparts from Fudan University for the signing of a memorandum of understanding, launching collaborative studies, research, and intellectual exchange


The 21st Century China Center now has its own platform on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), affording scholars everywhere the chance to quickly find all research published by the centeraffiliated faculty, students, and collaborators. SSRN is the largest repository of Social Science and Humanities papers on the web. The series launched by the 21st Century China Center gathers the latest research papers from its scholars and uploads them for public dissemination. As of August 2017, there have been over 20,000 downloads of papers by center scholars. C H I N A 21 P O D C A S T

China 21 is a podcast about China’s economy, politics, society and their implications for international affairs. Produced by the professionals, faculty, and students affiliated with the 21st Century China Center, each episode features expert insights and conversations. Guests include scholars discussing the ramifications of their findings, awardwinning journalists reporting on China, government officials, business leaders, and other China-hands visiting the UC San Diego campus. Available through the full range of podcast applications, the China 21 podcast has become a key vector for sharing topical content in an accessible medium.



China Focus is a student-run online magazine sponsored by the 21st Century China Center. Its mission is to provide the context for understanding China, China’s role in the world, and U.S.-China relations. Contributors include School of Global Policy and Strategy students and faculty studying China, with an Expert Briefing featuring some of the leading thinkers in Chinese political, economic, and societal analysis. In fall 2017, for example, 21st Century China faculty experts offer their insights on the 19th Party Congress in China, a meeting that is of pivotal importance to China’s political trajectory, its domestic policy, and foreign relations.

“As an engineer and entrepreneur who travels frequently between the U.S. and China, I long for an academic center that can produce knowledge about the Chinese society that is objective, influential, and on the cutting edge. I have found such a place in the 21st Century China Center. As a UC San Diego alumnus, I couldn’t be more proud of my association with the center. I hope my fellow UC San Diego alumni will join me in supporting the center and making it the best center of China studies in the world.” Junling Sun, PhD ’92 Chair and CEO Sun Engineering & Technology International, Inc.

“China’s almost-certain rise to great-power status presents an overriding national-security challenge for us. For the best that academics can offer the policy world on China and U.S.-China relations, look no further than UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center. I’m proud that my university has put together such an exceptional team of China experts.” Kurt Campbell ’92 Former Assistant Secretary of State East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2009-13) Founder and CEO, The Asian Group, LLC

CONTINUING THE NONTRADITION Founded as a forward-thinking research institution for graduate and undergraduate study, UC San Diego has developed a heritage of pursuing the public good in unconventional fashion. No wonder that the 21st Century China Center is distinctive from other academic programs in that its research is databased and collaborative with Chinese scholars, and it reaches out beyond academia to provide the insights needed by policymakers, business leaders, educators, and reformers.

Strengthening the 21st Century China Center through philanthropic support is vital to the Campaign for UC San Diego, our multiyear effort to continue our nontradition by driving innovation, advancing society, propelling economic growth, and, ultimately, solving the world’s most pressing problems.

UC San Diego is grateful to the founders and other outstanding partners of the 21st Century China Center for their vision, leadership, and transformational support.


21 ST CENTURY CHINA CENTER School of Global Policy and Strategy University of California San Diego 9500 Gilman Drive # 0519 La Jolla, California 92093-0519 (858) 246-1950 21china@ucsd.edu Susan Shirk, Chair sshirk@ucsd.edu Lei Guang, Director lguang@ucsd.edu Samuel Tsoi, Assistant Director stsoi@ucsd.edu Kasey Carroll, Assistant Director of Development klcarroll@ucsd.edu For a list of 21st Century China Center scholars, visit china.ucsd.edu/our-people.


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GPS 21CC Impact Report 2017  

The 21st Century China Center is a social science research center and policy think tank that produces scholarly research and informs policy...

GPS 21CC Impact Report 2017  

The 21st Century China Center is a social science research center and policy think tank that produces scholarly research and informs policy...

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