|Formation||May 4, 1998|
|Legal status||Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China|
The C9 League (simplified Chinese; traditional Chinese) is an official alliance of nine universities in mainland China, initiated by the Chinese Central Government through Project 985 to promote the development and reputation of higher education in China. Widely considered to be China's most prestigious and influential universities in various disciplines, the C9 League together account for 3% of the country's researchers but receive 10% of national research expenditures. They produce 20% of the nation's academic publications and 30% of total citations.People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, refers to the C9 League as China's Ivy League.
C9 League schools are allocated special resources, and have special arrangements for sharing resources with one another. They have a higher fraction of elite academics who have been awarded one of China's top academic honors, the Thousand Talents Plan Professorship and the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Professorship, and often have a few who have been awarded both. C9 League schools receive substantial funding from both national and local governments in order to build new research centers, improve facilities, hold international conferences, attract world-renowned faculty and visiting scholars, and help Chinese faculty attend conferences abroad.
The Chinese government has four main categories of elite universities. The first and largest of these groups is Project 211, which was established in 1995 to strengthen research standards in China's top universities, with universities that exceed a threshold receiving significantly increased funds. As of 2018, 116 higher education institutions were members of Project 211.
The second, established in 2015, is the Double First Class University Plan to create 42 world class universities by 2050. A third, more selective group is Project 985, established in 1998. The Chinese government included 39 universities in Project 985, and capped membership to these 39 in 2011.
The final and most selective group is the C9 League, established by the Chinese central government on May 4, 1998 as part of Project 985 with the goal of advancing Chinese higher education by formalizing an elite group of universities to foster better students and share resources. Nine universities were selected and allocated funding, and on October 10, 2009, the relationship between these nine universities was formalized into China's C9 League.