Zhang Boshu (张博树): An Insider’s Account of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Since CASS engages in social sciences, it should of course be a professional academic institution. However, under the present political system, CASS also functions as an ideological institution, propagating party’s policies and principles, and serving the party’s purposes. CASS, directly under the State Council, is a ministerial-level unit. Each research institute of CASS is a bureau-level unit. Every province and municipality directly under the central government also has its own social sciences academy, albeit with a lower administrative rank. At present, CASS has several dozens research institutes, over a hundred journals, various ‘research centres’, and several thousand researchers and administrative staff. Each year it spends several hundred millions of government funding.
Since CASS is first and foremost an ideological institution, it being led by ‘leftist’ or party officials should not come as a surprise. But this is after all a place where talents gather. At CASS, He Lin, Jin Yuelin, Zheng Zhenduo, Qian Zhongshu and Lu Shuxiang were all leading scholars in their respective field. CASS has also produced dissidents like Gu Zhun and Li Shenzhi. During the 1989 democratic movement, CASS was known as a ‘crisis area’. Many researchers and ordinary staff were participants of the demonstrations. Over ten bureau-level cadres at CASS were punished. But overall, CASS is the Communist Party’s ‘imperial academy’. It must listen to the party; as a result it has produced numerous party mouthpieces.