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Putting bright heads together
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Only when a research center maintains its expertise and independence can it help decision-makers, says an article in the China Youth Daily. Following is an excerpt:

Beijing recently established the China Center of International Economic Exchanges, a high-level think tank. Besides academic researchers, some retired government leaders have reportedly joined this center.

The public seems to have little confidence in academic researchers in recent years. Some of the researchers have already lost the public's trust because they made undue comments or incorrect forecasts on major issues of concern.

Compared with these researchers, media reports seem to pin hopes on retired government leaders. They are probably right in this aspect, but these retired government leaders may not be conducting specific research for the center. The academic researchers will still be the backbone of the research team.

The loss of confidence in some researchers does not necessarily mean all of them are useless and untrustworthy. Some government leaders disrespect experts and researchers at heart and only believe in themselves. That is why the professional suggestions of many researchers are usually vetoed by government leaders as "not suitable to the real conditions" at advisory meetings held by the government.

Currently, our government lacks transparency. A significant amount of information that should have been made public is either locked in the archives of the government or deemed confidential. Under this condition, researchers can only provide advice based on academic information rather than practical experience when they are consulted by the government.

The establishment of this center is to help decision-makers with their own research. Therefore, expertise is the first characteristic of this center. The center must also be free from intervention from the government or any other bodies.

(China Daily April 14, 2009)

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