Cheng Li

Cheng Li

Distinguished Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy


Cheng Li is director of and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center and a distinguished fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. Dr. Li is also a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a nonresident affiliated fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale University, a member of the Visiting Committee to the Social Science Research Council in the United States, a member of the Committee of 100, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Li’s research areas include the transformation of the Chinese leadership, generational change and technological development in China, public health, and the Chinese middle class. He is the author and editor of 17 books, including Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership (2016), The Power of Ideas: The Rising Influence of Thinkers and Think Tanks in China e(2017), and Middle Class Shanghai: Reshaping U.S.-China Engagement (2021). He is currently completing a book manuscript with the working title Xi Jinping’s Protégés: Rising Elite Groups in the Chinese Leadership. He is the principal editor of the Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series published by the Brookings Institution Press, which includes the forthcoming volume China’s Youth: Increasing Diversity amid Persistent Inequality by Li Chunling (September 2021).

Dr. Li has advised a wide range of U.S. government, education, research, business and not-for-profit organizations on work in China. Dr. Li has frequently been called upon to share his unique perspective and insights as an expert on China. He recently appeared on BBC, CCTV, CNN, C-SPAN, ABC World News, NPR, and PBS. Li grew up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. In 1985, he came to the United States when he later received an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton University.


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