The Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) was founded in December 1949 on the initiative of the late Premier Zhou Enlai, the first of its kind devoted to people-to-people diplomacy after the founding of New China. The late Premier Zhou served as its Honorary President till the end of his life. Another Honorary President was the late Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Marshal Chen Yi.
Successively serving as the President of CPIFA were Zhang Xiruo (from 1949 to 1973), Hao Deqing (from 1977 to 1983), Han Nianlong (from 1983 to 1991), Liu Shuqing (from 1991 to 1997), Mei Zaorong (from 1997 to 2003), Lu Qiutian (from 2003 to 2006), Yang Wenchang (from 2006 to 2016). The current President is Wu Hailong.
The purposes of CPIFA are to engage in studies on the world situation, international issues and foreign policies, and to carry out exchanges with statesmen, scholars, noted personages, relevant research institutions and social organizations of various countries, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and the people of all other countries, promoting the establishment and development of friendly relations and cooperation between China and other countries and making contributions to peace and development of the world.
CPIFA has maintained wide contacts with well-known statesmen and diplomats (including former heads of state, former heads of government and foreign ministers, members of parliaments, leaders of political parties and leaders of some countries that have not established diplomatic relations with China), as well as public figures, prominent entrepreneurs, famous research institutions on international issues and scholars of more than 120 countries in the world. It plays host to visiting foreign delegations and organizes Chinese delegations to visit abroad. It sponsors lectures by celebrities, organizes and participates in various kinds of academic lectures and seminars, so as to probe into and exchange views on international and regional issues in the political, economic, cultural, security and other fields. It also has a quarterly publication Foreign Affairs Journal (English edition).
Members of CPIFA Council consist of distinguished figures from all circles in China, including international activists, senior diplomats and well-known scholars and specialists in international studies. CPIFA is headed by a President and four Vice-Presidents, who are assisted by a Secretary General and a few Deputy Secretaries General in their day-to-day work.