The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code.[16] In 2014, CAP received $45 million from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, labor unions, and corporations.[50] From 2003 to 2007, CAP received about $15 million in grants from 58 foundations.[51] Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. The center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors.[51] In December 2013, the organization released a list of its corporate donors, which include Walmart, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, America's Health Insurance Plans, and Eli Lilly and Company.[52]

In 2015, CAP released a partial list of its donors, which included 28 anonymous donors accounting for at least $5 million in contributions. Named donors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, which each gave between $500,000 and $999,999. CAP's top donors include Walmart and Citigroup, each of which have given between $100,000 and $499,000.[53][54] Other large CAP donors include Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Google, Time Warner, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.[38][55]


The CASS is a ministry-level institution under the State Council.[3][4][5][6] As of 2012, CASS has over 3,200 resident scholars.[7][needs update] As of November 2020, the CASS has 6 university departments, 42 research institutes, 6 functional departments, 5 directly affiliated institutions, and 3 directly affiliated companies.[8] Of its functional departments, five are focused on research.[9]

Are Chinese think-tanks less independent than American think-tanks and does that make them less effective? I noticed that Chinese think-tanks are tightly coupled with the Chinese government while American think-tanks are more independent and offer a variety of differing viewpoints depending on who the donors are. Is there any misconception in my observation? If not, is that a detriment to the Chinese government as they are likely parrot their own opinions?

  • 4
    "less independent" sounds extremely subjective. Dec 22, 2023 at 16:01
  • 3
    "Are Chinese think-tanks less independent than American think-tanks" This leaves open, "from whom" but surely yes. "does that make them less effective?" "Effective" is more opinion based than "independent" and also begs the question "at what"? Influencing government policy? Making substantively good recommendations? A less independent think-tank might be better at influencing government policy, but is that really what a think-tank is supposed to do?
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 22, 2023 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


What Think Tanks do is research and advocacy.

So an concerned group pays to a think tank to promote a specific solution to an issue, and to increase the importance of that issue in the eyes of people making the political decision. This includes promotion of their research using mass-media.

In case of China, I believe we should rather use the term Advisory Body. These are organization which are paid by governments to provide semi-independent advice to those governments. Concerned groups may still affect these organizations' functioning, but this is not seen as vital or even desired. Their function is to give direct advice to governements, not promote the problem to the general public.

So the conclusion is that if we call Chinese Advisory Bodies "Think Tanks", they are sure less independent than American Think Tanks. At the same time, Chinese Advisory Bodies may be less opinionated and side-taking than most specific American Think Tanks.

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