The Chinese Economic System Reform Research Institute (SRI) or “tigaisuo” was established in early 1985 and effectively closed by 1990. Its existence grew out of a desire by the reformist leadership under Zhao Ziyang to produce creative ideas for reform, and a desire by the young reformers to have visibility for promoting the professionalization of economics and access to the leadership to offer policy options for reform. It is a fascinating and important story in the “decade of reform,” as the 1980s came to be known. But it is also an important example of the obstacles to openness and professionalization in a socialist system. This chapter details the establishment of the institute, while the following chapter discusses its growth and its mission conflict. I begin with how the idea of research organizations was discussed in the Chinese press in the 1980s and how they were conceptualized as part of the cause of “reform and development.” Then, I discuss the SRI’s bureaucratic setting and the relationship between Zhao Ziyang and the young reformers, which together make up the institutional framework in which the young reformers operated. Finally, after defining “autonomy,” I discuss the three areas where the SRI was widely said to have garnered a high degree of autonomy. The chapter highlights how the bureaucratic and administrative environment presented obstacles to creating a new kind of research institute and how the SRI maneuvered within that environment to carve out a significant degree of independence (dull).