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China Network– Peking University’s National School of Development: The Brains behind China’s growth
May 18, 2015

Peking University, May 12, 2015: Nestled within the lush foliage of Langrun Garden, located in the expansive grounds of Peking University, lies China’s number one think tank: Peking University’s National School of Development (NSD).


Its foundation dates back to the formative years of China’s entry into the global market. During this period, there was a lack of substantial research on China’s market economy. It was against this backdrop that three western educated economists: Justin Lin, Yi Gang, and Hai Wen, came together in 1994 to establish the China Centre for Economic Research. Their understanding of western economics and research methods differed from what was taught in China’s economic schools; thus, they realized the need to establish an academic center devoted to teaching and researching modern economics, management, and provide policy consultations.


In 1996, the first academic program was launched: a double masters degree in Economics. In the same year, they also began admitting PHD scholars. Today, 20 years later, the National School of Development boasts more than 10,000 graduates. Of the 3000 undergraduate students that are accepted into Peking University every year, approximately 700 will pursue a double masters in Economics degree; no other double degree academic program can command such numbers.




Justin Lin, currently one of China’s top economists, once said,When at the top, it is hard to find faithful companions.”


There are not many think tanks in China that can argue to be wholly independent. It is very easy for organizations to work toward pleasing and meeting the needs of the government. At the NSD, the scholars recognize the importance of impartiality if they hope to use their academic research to solve the issues that China is facing today. Due to the fact that NSD’s work is focused on government positioning, and its reports provide guidance and advise on areas ranging from urbanization and healthcare reform to government streamlining and delegation, it is in both parties best interests to ensure that the scholars are given a platform for independent thinking.




In 1998, Fordham and Peking University established a joint MBA (Masters of Business Administration) program, taught by professors from both institutions. It was a venture birthed by Professor Zhou Qiren who wanted to alleviate the institution’s reliance on the government for funding. The MBA candidates are mainly mid to senior level managers from Fortune 500 companies that are known to invest in their top talent. Not only has this collaboration with Fordham University provided an income stream and put the NSD on the global map, but it has also facilitated an excellent opportunity for the promotion and understanding of the Chinese market and business practices.


Needless to say, as a result of the success of the MBA program, the EMBA and the EDP[AN1] , among other academic programs have been established.


National and International Reputation


At the beginning of this year, a 2014 Chinese Think-Tank Influence Report was published. In this publication the NSD was ranked 4th in “Economic Development” and “Political Development” and 5th in “Overall Deepening Reform”. It also placed in the top 10 for overall influence and top 5 for discipline, system and professional influence.


Moreover, many of the scholars from the NSD gain international recognition from their journals that are often featured in Western publications; promoting China’s academic excellence on the international stage.


Looking Forward


Over the course of 20 years, The National School of Development has evolved from humble beginnings, to become China’s most influential think tank. However, one thing remains the same: to attract the best talent that will positively contribute to, and, influence the Chinese Government’s policymaking process.

Source: National School of Development

Edited by: Alice Namu