Introduction to the China Institute for Vitalizing Border Areas and Enriching the People
The China Institute for Vitalizing Border Areas and Enriching the People (VBEP), founded in April 2019, is a high-end think tank authorized by the National Ethnic Affairs Commission of the People's Republic of China (NEAC) and jointly developed by the Department of Economic Development of NEAC, the Department of Education and Technology of NEAC, and Minzu University of China (MUC), with its headquarters at the Minzu University of China. It was called the "Best New Think Tank of 2020" in the Global Think Tank Report 2020, and it was selected as the NEAC's Key Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences Research in December 2020.
VBEP is a high-end think tank with the research field of "vitalizing border areas and enriching the people" as its characteristics. It is influenced by Xi Jinping's Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and is based on National Strategies. VBEP is a core center for national action study on vitalizing border areas and enriching the people by drawing together the resources and strengths of all sections of society. VBEP aims to build "a theoretical research upland, an important center for decision-making consultation, a high-end forum carrier, a social service platform, and a border areas' data center." According to the Five-sphere Integrated Plan, VBEP serves the national strategy, economics, and social development and opening up of border areas.
Bateer, the vice-chairperson of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is appointed as honorary dean of VBEP. The former vice-minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, former vice director of the National Ethnic Affairs Commission Yang Jianqiang, Chen Gaihu, and other leaders served as consultants of the institute. Huang Taiyan, the former president and senior professor of the Minzu University of China, is appointed as the dean of VBEP. Zhang Zhigang, the director of the Department of Economics Development (NEAC), and Tian Liangang, the director of the Department of Education and Technology (NEAC), are co-dean of VBEP. Zhang Lijun, the dean and second-class professor at the School of Economics of Minzu University of China, is appointed as executive dean of VBEP. The academic board includes experts and scholars such as Bai Chongen, Ban Banduojie, Chen Jianyue, Dong Suocheng, Gao Peiyong, Guo Xibao, Hao Shiyuan, Hong Yinxing, Huang Taiyan, Ma Guoqing, and Qing Jue. The Council is composed of leaders from relevant departments and bureaus of NEAC, well-known entrepreneurs, and government departments of border areas.
VBEP is constructing a trinity development model of "general-branches-base". We aim to establish branches in 9 border provinces and more attached research bases and fixed observation sites. The Inner Mongolia Branch of VBEP was cofounded with the Inner Mongolia Normal University in May 2019. VBEP has also founded the research bases and fixed observation points in Horgos City of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Qushui County of Tibet Autonomous Region, and more border regions as well.
Since the establishment of VBEP, it has been fully focusing on the research directions of national strategies for vitalizing border areas and enriching the people, the construction of the "Belt and Road Initiative," cross-border trade and economic cooperation zone, poverty alleviation, and rural revitalization in border areas. VBEP has also carried out much academic research and theoretical innovations, actively advised and served the national decision-making, and helped the economic and social development and open up of the border areas. At present, the institute has undertaken 17 national projects such as projects funded by the National Social Science Foundation, and 18 provincial and ministerial research projects, including the "Research on the Development of Ethnic Unity and Progress (2021-2025)" and the "Evaluation of the 13th Five-Year Plan of the Action to Vitalizing Border Areas and Enrich People" amongst others. VBEP has published the "Annual Progress on Poverty Alleviation in China's Less-populated Ethnic Minority Areas," the "Annual Case Study on Targeted Poverty Alleviation in China's Ethnic Minority Areas," and the "Annual Progress Report on China's Cross-border Economic Cooperation Zones" between 2016 and 2020. Moreover, it will soon release "China's Development Report on Vitalizing Border Areas and Enriching the People (2020)—20th Anniversary of the Action". The report and its derived applied results have been approved by national, provincial, and ministerial leaders and adopted by local governments.
By the end of 2020, the members of VBEP have published 69 papers on key domestic journals and influential newspapers, such as People's Daily, Guangming Daily, Red Flag Manuscript, Journal of Minzu University of China (Philosophy and Social Science Edition), etc. VBEP has also published 5 papers on top international academic journals, such asDemography, Journal of Development Economics, and Early Childhood Research Quarterly, and 7 books. In 2020, VBEP received more than 2.6 million yuan in project funding and 1.7 million yuan by social donations.
The research team of VBEP has focused on building a series of databases, which have laid a solid foundation of academic research, policy research, and evaluation for the implementation of the national strategies of vitalizing border areas and enriching the people and the "Belt and Road Initiative". "Database of China's Vitalizing Border Areas and Enriching the People" covered panel data of 140 border counties' economics situation and micro household data collected by sample surveys in border counties; "Database of Poor Households" constructed a large sample panel database of 174,876 poor households' exact situation from 2016-2018; "Database of Economic Situation of Ethnic Villages" included information about the economic and social development of 95 villages. "Database of Special Needs Commodities of China's Ethnic Minorities" covered the production technology and industrial development status of 11 categories of special needs commodities of ethnic minorities, including border tea, ethnic medicine, ethnic costumes, ethnic musical instruments, and ethnic arts and crafts. This database contains 1.32 million words, 30,000 photos, and more than 5,000 minutes of video records.
VBEP has also initiated some other academic activities, such as the "Annual China Vitalizing Border Areas and Enriching the People Forum," the "Annual China Economics Frontier Forum," and the "Annual China Economics Hotspot Press Conference," etc.
Official Website: vbep.muc.edu.cn
Official WeChat public number: muc_vbep
Phone: +86 10 68933771
Why Should We Care about the Border Areas?
General Secretary Xi Jinping placed great importance on border security and proposed that "to govern the country, first govern the border". Fourteen countries border China's land border, and the land border is more than 22,000 kilometers long, of which 19,000 kilometers are in ethnic areas. There are 140 land border counties (cities, districts, banners) in 9 provinces and regions and 58 border regiments of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. There are more than 23 million people of all ethnic groups living on this borderland of nearly 2 million square kilometers, nearly half of which are less-populated ethnic minorities. The border areas, which cover approximately one-fifth of the country's territory, are at the frontier of China's opening-up, a window to display national strength and image, a key strategic resource reserve region, and a fortress for national and ecological stability.