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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Period of Strategic Opportunity
Zhànlüè Jīyù Qī

The concept of a “period of strategic opportunity” was first introduced by Jiang Zemin in 2002. In his political report to the 16th Party Congress, Jiang identified “the first two decades of the twenty-first century” as “an important period of strategic opportunity that must be grasped tightly.” In Jiang’s telling, the turn of the 21st century introduced a rare window of time in which China could focus all of its efforts on economic development. By embracing the forces of globalization during this window, the Party had the opportunity to build Chinese power through peaceful means, thereby laying the foundation for “a strong, prosperous, democratic and culturally advanced socialist country by the middle of this century” (Jiang 2002).

Jiang’s slogan was born out of the foreign policy debates that racked the Communist Party of China in the late 1990s. A decade before Deng Xiaoping had declared that PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT WERE THE THEME OF THE TIMES; a suite of reform era policies—including China’s opening to outside investment, Deng’s pursuit of market reforms, and the decision to terminate support for Maoist guerillas in the developing world—flowed from this assessment. A world trending towards peace and economic integration was a world where it was safe to focus the work of the Chinese party-state on economic reform.

The annual debates over China’s trading status in Washington, the 1997 Taiwan Straits crisis, and America’s 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade all put Deng’s assessment of the international scene to question. Many in China believed that it had been a mistake to prioritize economic growth over military power or confrontation with the United States. China’s ascension to the WTO and the 9/11 attacks—which diverted American hostility away from the PRC and towards the Middle East—put an end to their worries. By 2002 it was clear that globalization would not only power China’s economic ascent but would also temper opposition to China’s growing material might.

Jiang’s conception of the period of strategic opportunity was endorsed by the two men who governed China during the remainder of this window of opportunity. Both Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping repeated Jiang’s phrase verbatim; both paired it with fulsome depictions of globalization as an unstoppable historical force. Yet as Xi Jinping’s second term came to a close, economic integration seemed a far less powerful trend than it had seemed at the start of tenure. By that point the BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE had met with numerous setbacks; China was engaged in an unforgiving trade war with the United States, and anti-China sentiment was rising across the globe. Two decades after Jiang’s introduction of the period of strategic opportunity, Xi would offer a new assessment of the times:

Our country has entered a period of development in which strategic opportunities, risks, and challenges are concurrent and uncertainties and unforeseen factors are rising… We must therefore be more mindful of potential dangers, be prepared to deal with worst-case scenarios, and be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms (Xi 2022).

 Xi’s new formula does not predict imminent war. It does suggest, however, that the Party can no longer rely on globalization and economic integration to shepherd the REJUVENATION OF THE CHINESE NATION. In an international environment defined by risk and danger, the strategies of the reform era are no longer sufficient to secure the Party CENTER’s desired future.



2002. “Full Text of Jiang Zemin's Report at the 16th Party Congress.” China.org.cn; Dessein, Alex. 2019. “Identifying Windows of Opportunity within China’s Rise: Problematizing China’s Hundred-Year Strategy toward Great-Power Status,” Military Review; Erdhal, Brock and Daid Gitter. 2022. “China’s Uncertain Times and Fading Opportunities,” CACR Occasional Report. Washington DC: Center for Advanced China Research; Garver, John W. China’s Quest: The History of the Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China. New York: Oxford University Press; He, Henry Yuhuai. 2015. Dictionary of the Political Thought of the People’s Republic of China. London: Routledge; Heath, Timothy. 2014. China’s New Governing Party Paradigm: Political Renewal and the Pursuit of National Rejuvenation. New York: Routledge; Song Wenlong. 2022. “Seizing the Window of Strategic Opportunity: A Study of China’s Macro–Strategic Narrative since the 21st Century,” Social Sciences 11, iss. 10; Xi Jinping. 2022. “Full Text of Xi Jinping’s Speech at China’s Party Congress.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China; Yong Deng. 2022. China’s Strategic Opportunity: Change and Revisionism in Chinese Foreign Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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