China Thinkers Bureau bridges global experts to China

Li (Left), CEO of China Thinkers Bureau

As the development of robotics in China has thrived in recent years, discussion concerning the technology among officials and entrepreneurs has grown increasingly intense. Many wonder whether robotics will come to take the place of China’s sizeable labor force while many question whether it will help rather than hinder China’s economic development. Justine Cassell, Vice Dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, said in an interview that robotics is likely to form a partnership with humankind rather than act as a substitute.

Cassell visited China thanks to an invitation from China Thinkers Bureau, which is also known by its Chinese name, Tashanshi. The Bureau’s mission is to drive exclusive and cutting-edge global discussions between Chinese and overseas specialists not only in the field of AI but also in other advanced fields such as economics and finance, innovation and entrepreneurship, biomedicine and health, new retail, and education.  

Introducing the world’s top experts

Li Dawei, CEO of China Thinkers Bureau, still remembers in 2010 when he organized a trip for world-renowned investor and philosopher, George Soros to Beijing. During and after the trip, Li was offered various invitations for Soros to speak in China. A similar case occurred in 2013 when he invited an influential futurist, John Naisbitt, to China. Naisbitts’ book “Megatrends” was a huge hit in China and sparked a heated discussion when it was published in the 1980s. Naisbitt didn’t address China in this book but later in 2010 published “China’s Megatrends”, which focused on the intricacies of China’s development. While interviewing Naisbitt, Li became more aware of the ways in which overseas specialists view China’s development. He decided to bring more well-known global thinkers to China.

“There is a huge demand for top global experts who can inspire future development in China,” Li said. “It is crucial for us to interact with people around the world.”

One direct impact of his work is that international experts can inspire Chinese audiences to deliver speeches and attend meetings in the nation. Li founded China Thinkers Bureau in 2015 with the aim of introducing the world’s top experts and providing one-stop services to China’s domestic market. 

Li himself has more than a decade of experience in international communications. He served as the international editor-in-chief of China’s Economic Report in the Development Research Center of the State Council and was a founding member of the international communication sector at Caixin Media. He also served as the academic and international assistant to Asian’s well-known reporter Hu Shuli while she served as dean of Sun Yat-sen University’s (SYSU) journalism school in 2009. Li has contributed at the Tsinghua Technology Innovation Research Center for Innovation and Economic Development. He has a master’s degree from Warwick University in Creative and Media Enterprises and is soon to be a visiting scholar at MIT in the field of Comparative Media Studies. He is the co-author of “The Future of China’s Economy: 10 Nobel Economists Advising China’s Economy” published by Sichuan Renmin Press and the author of “The Final Questions: “The Future World in the Eyes of the Elites” published by Zhejiang University Press.

With about 20 teammates and two co-founders, the agency has cooperated with more than 100 international experts in various fields and about 20 Nobel Laureates. According to Li, China’s international ideas exchange in science and technology has mostly relied on the country’s official institutions, such as the Development Research Center of the State Council. However, official channels cannot satisfy the great need for international exchanges. As a market-oriented company, China Thinkers Bureau helps to serve a wide range of needs for international communication. 

International experts aid local officials 

Local governments often have great demand for support from international speakers as officials routinely deal with advanced economic and technological issues. Therefore, China Thinkers Bureau helps introduce experts capable of providing professional advice for local governments in China. These include: Professor Justine Cassell, associate dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University; Joe Weinman, creator of the term ‘Cloud Economics’; and Piero Scaruffi, author of “A History of Silicon Valley.” All of these men were exclusively represented by China Thinkers Bureau and have functioned as senior consultants to several Chinese provincial government Internet Industry departments in addition to global leading tech companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. They are expected to help develop a new generation of strategic emerging industries such as AI. 

Additional local governments like those of Shanghai, Chongqing, and Tianjin have likewise cooperated with international experts invited by the agency. Such experts are able to train local professionals and businessmen and help them gain a better understanding of leading technology, according to Li.  

Due to its rapid development, China Thinkers Bureau has attracted investment from renowned investor Wu Xiaobo, China’s most renowned financial news writer. 

China Thinkers Bureau plans to represent at least 100 international experts in the coming three years. It may also expand its services to entertainment as well as culture, which means the possible addition of experts from areas such as art and athletics. “The aim of our agency is to be the top consultancy company serving China’s international exchange,”  Li said. 

China Thinkers Bureau has worked with more than 100 global speakers and 20 Nobel laureates, including Mr. George Soros, Mrs and Mr. Naisbitt, professor Cassell from CMU, and innovation guru Dr. Dick Foster. In 2018 alone, it helped 50 speakers participate in approximately 150 events across China. The Bureau works closely with large tech companies and media  groups including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu,, IBM, Financial Times, China Newsweek, and Tsinghua University.

(Top photo from China Thinkers Bureau)

Lena Zhang

Lena is our columnist. Previously working as a finance reporter, she is passionate about social sciences and curious about how technology impacts our lives. She holds a master's degree in Social Anthropology from London School of Economics and Political Science.

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