Hak Yin Li and Seanon Wong presented a research paper on “The Rise of Chinese Think Tanks in the Belt and Road Initiative” at the Global China Research Working Seminar
Chinese think tanks have received much more attention in recent years. The current literature has explored and discussed the necessities for employing track 2 (semi-official or non-official channel) in Chinese public diplomacy. This paper assumes that the rise of Chinese think tanks is indeed part of the supporting mechanism to facilitate One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, such track 2 channel may offer some flexibilities in promoting OBOR and building up a foundation for cooperation between China and other countries. Paradoxically, the nature of Chinese think tanks is somehow different from the United States or the West. And there are very limited empirical cases on the think tanks’ impact to Chinese public diplomacy. In order to answer these questions, this paper firstly discusses the uniqueness of Chinese think tanks when compared with the West by conceptualizing the current theoretical framework of think tanks in the context of soft power and public diplomacy. Secondly, this paper attempts to identify and discuss some empirical evidences from an institutional approach which can help to illustrate if Chinese think tanks could really shape Chinese public diplomacy through the case of OBOR. If not, why then? Lastly, this paper attempts to offer a comprehensive account on the roles and challenges of Chinese think tanks in the formation of public diplomacy.