The Center for Strategic Translation provides statesmen and scholars with the tools needed to interpret the Chinese party-state of today while training a new generation of China specialists with the skills needed to guide our relations with the China of tomorrow.

The Center meets this need through initiatives in translation and education. The Center locates, translates, and annotates documents of historic or strategic value that are currently only available in Chinese. Our introductory essays, glossaries, and commentaries are designed to make these materials accessible and understandable to statesmen and scholars with no special expertise in Chinese politics or the Chinese language.

Complementing the Center’s published translations are the Center’s training seminars. Starting in the summer of 2023 the Center will host a series of seminars to instruct young journalists, graduate students, and government analysts in the open-source analysis of Communist Party policy, introduce them to the distinctive lexicon and history of Party speak, and train them how to draw credible conclusions from conflicting or propagandistic documentary sources.
The Center is an initiative of the American Governance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that studies and promotes the betterment of American public institutions and publishes the quarterly magazine Palladium. The Center is directed by Tanner Greer, a noted essayist, journalist, and researcher with expertise interpreting China in the context of American foreign policy.


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Center, The

“The Center” is a literal rendering of zhōngyāng. The phrase is is most commonly used as an abbreviation for the CENTRAL COMMITTEE of the Communist Party of China (中国共产党中央委员会), and official Chinese translations almost always opt for translating it as “The Central Committee.” The term, however, is more ambiguous than most translations into English allow. Cheng Zhenqiu, who directed  the English translation of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, described his dissatisfaction with his own translation with these comments:

Lexically, there are still many issues…for example, the translation of zhōngyāng [中央]….Sometimes zhongyang refers to the Central Standing Committee [中央常委], sometimes it refers to the Central Politburo [中央政治局], and more often it refers to the Central Committee. Abroad some have begun translating it as “the Center”; on this issue there’s room for further research (Snape 2021).

The kaleidoscopic nature of the term is evident in Party regulations governing the Central Committee, which declares that 

The Central Committee, Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) are the brain and central hub of the Party organization. Only the Party Centre has the mandate to make decisions and interpret Party-wide and state-wide important principles and policies  (Xinhua 2020).

The usefulness of a term whose definition can stretch to describe either the Central Committee, the POLITBURO, or the POLITBURO STANDING COMMITTEE as contingency requires has been recognized since the days of Mao Zedong, when obedience to The Center was first codified as part of the “FOUR OBEYS” regulating Party life. In particular, obfuscating the specific source of new directives means that decisions that may have only been made by a small group of leading cadres are cloaked with the mantle of larger party organs, suggesting a shared consensus or collective decision making process that may not actually exist.



Li Ling. 2020. “Appeal of Strategic Ambiguity on PartyCentre–Reading the Party Directive on the Operation of the Central Committee.” TheChina Collection;Snape, Holly. 2020. “New Regulations for the CentralCommittee: Codifying Xi Era Democratic Centralism,” China Law Translate; Xinhua. 2020. “Directive on the Operation of the CentralCommittee.”

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