There has been much talk in recent years about the growing role of think tanks in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The publication on 1 January 2015 of the ‘Opinions concerning strengthening the construction of new types of think tanks with Chinese characteristics’ (‘the Opinion’) by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Office and the State Council General Office stressed how the Xi Jinping administration intends to promote ‘a scientific, democratic and lawful policymaking [system] by the Party and the government’ (China Copyright and Media 2015). Recently, think tanks in China have demonstrated increasing significance vis-à-vis policymaking and diplomatic practices. This is particularly true in the context of EU–China relations, where cooperation, diplomacy and, to a certain extent, political guidelines are no longer based exclusively on State-centric forms of interaction, such as officials and ministerial-level meetings – for example, the EU–China Bilateral Dialogue. More simply, the rationale for EU–China cooperation also lies in the numerous conferences, international fora, educational exchange programmes and dialogues occurring each year outside European institutions and CCP departments. People-to-people exchanges – often guided by experts working at think tanks and academic organisations – between China and European countries have grown exponentially in the last decade. Although there is an increasing awareness among ‘China watchers’ of the shrinking of political leeway and space for pluralism since Xi Jinping took office in 2012, the functionality of think tanks ­vis-à-vis the China–EU partnership has not been adequately analysed in the literature. Because scholars who recognise how European think tanks Europanised China and build and shape a precise image ‘about China and the possibilities for a strong EU–China strategic partnership’ (Callahan 2007, 791) have only partially contributed to the debate, the other side of the process, that is, the merit of Chinese think 68tanks influencing the discourse about the EU–China partnership, is also scarcely addressed within the literature. To address this gap, the following sections will shed some light on the role of Chinese think tanks in shaping and framing an image of EU–China relations, as well as on the development of the China–EU partnership. The first section explores the world of think tanks in contemporary China, comparing Chinese and European policy think tanks and paying particular reference to the institutes and organisations working in the field of European studies or China–EU relations. The second section analyses how the narrative of Chinese think tanks engages with the politics of EU–China relations. The third section briefly analyses how European think tanks reacted to Chinese think tanks’ overwhelming capacity to engage with policy narratives vis-à-vis EU–China relations.