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RFA: The Last Private Think Tank Faces Shutdown

Radio Free Asia (RFA) published an article about Tianze, a private think tank that is facing shutdown in China. Beijing Tianze Research Institute is considered the last private think tank. It consists of liberal Chinese economists. For many years, the institute was registered under the name of the “Tianze Consulting Company.” On October 9, the Beijing Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce notified Tianze that its license had been revoked because it conducted business that was “outside the scope of its business.”

During a hearing held on October 17, the lawyers representing Tianze questioned how the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Department misused the law. The charge regarding its business scope referred to the claim that the company launched business in education without prior approval. Tianze countered that they ran seminars but not schools. On the other hand, if the Department found that the business scope of the enterprise had changed and there was no industrial and commercial registration, in accordance with the regulations, it should first have issued a warning to require the enterprise to register. Only in the case of “serious circumstances” can they revoke the license. Also, during the annual inspection, the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Department never raised the issue.

The famous economists Mao Yuzhen, Zhang Shuguang, Sheng Hong, Wu Bin and others, and the Beijing Elephant Culture Company founded Tianze in 1993. It operates under the name of the Tianze Research Institute Co., Ltd. In 2005, it got in trouble due to the comments its members made in support of the reform of the property rights of  state-owned enterprises and in promoting marketization. In 2012 its business license was revoked.

Subsequently, the Tianze Research Institute continued to operate under the name of the Tianze Consulting Company. In January 2017, the authorities closed the company’s website claiming it failed to obtain a permit. At the beginning of 2018, the landlord of the house that Tianze rented forcibly took it back and the police welded the entrance door shut.

Currently, the Tianze Institute is still waiting for the final verdict. RFA called the Beijing Haidian Industrial and Commercial Bureau, but the no one ever answered the phone.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 19, 2018