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  • Mohsen SHARIATINIA

    Mohsen SHARIATINIA

    Assistant Professor, Shahdid Beheshti National University of Iran

     

    His publications primarily focus on Iran’s stance and position in the Middle East as well as on the international level. One of the last works by Professor Shariatinia “Will China play a role in lessening pressure on Iran?” (2019) sheds light on how the Islamic Republic is relying on China amidst the so called “maximum pressure” campaign from Washington on Tehran.

    One poignant interview that underlines Mr. Shariatinia interest on the international posture of Iran “There Are Different Interpretations of Iran’s Role in the Silk Road” (2016), shows how the author is keen to explain the possibilities and prerequisites of how Tehran could actively take part in one of China’s most widely promoted initiatives in the Eurasiatic continent.

    Particular attention is posed on the matter of how Iran will manage to maintain his vital space in a tumultuous region and among major partners such as Beijing and Washington.

    As a result of his research, the relationship between the Islamic Republic with the United States and China represents one of the main guidelines in his research, which aims at analyzing the developing path in this realm.

     

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      #72 - The Middle East in China-US RelationsSPEAKERS Juan COLE, Richard P.Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan Mohsen SHARIATINIA, Assistant Professor, Shahdid Beheshti National University of Iran Tugrul KESKIN, Professor and Director, Center for Global Governance, Institute of Global Studies, Shanghai University   ABSTRACT In the past years, US activities in the Middle East as…
      Tags: region, middle, professor, china, east, university, beijing, road, well, will


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  • #72 – The Middle East in China-US Relations

    SPEAKERS

    Juan COLE, Richard P.Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan

    Mohsen SHARIATINIA, Assistant Professor, Shahdid Beheshti National University of Iran

    Tugrul KESKIN, Professor and Director, Center for Global Governance, Institute of Global Studies, Shanghai University

     

    ABSTRACT

    In the past years, US activities in the Middle East as the primary security guarantor created an ideal situation for China to focus primarily on its economic development in the region and enabling Chinese investments to flourish. Nonetheless, a recent decrease of political interest as well as energy dependence from the region have brought the United States to rollback their active military presence in the area, causing concerns among Middle Eastern rulers, who seek a new security guarantor if the US were to withdraw.

     

    Considering the scale of the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s increasing presence as a leading power in the Middle East, policy-makers in the region, as well as the international community, will request Beijing to use its influence in order to create long-term stability in the area. In this regard, China could take the lead in a varied range of actions, but this might push Beijing to re-evaluate its neutrality stance on polarized sensitive issues.

     

    Signs of an increased Chinese security presence are already evident, but whether Beijing desires to achieve this goal is still uncertain.

     

    Join our event#72 for a conversation on the current situation of the region and how big powers are involved in its stability.

     

    ThinkINchina is back to Wudaokou, we’ll be hosted by a venue that just went into business, Wilderness Coffee – 荒野咖啡 in Chinese, the former Sculpting in Time.

    Wilderness Coffee, Wudaokou Chengfu Road, Huaqing Jiayuan 12 bldg

    From Wudaokou subway station, exit B, walks towards South

    北京市海淀区五道口成府路,华清嘉园12号楼2层

    五道口地铁站B口西南100米 – 原雕刻时光旧址

     

    PLEASE TO RSVP CLICK HERE

    OR

    SCAN THIS QR CODE

     

    As always, our events are free, we kindly ask you to register in advance for helping us in the organization of the venue, thanks!

    Registration will start at 6pm and close at 6.45, seats are distributed on a first come, first served basis. Arriving later won’t guarantee you a seat.


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  • #71 – Event Report – AI-typical courts: how could Artificial Intelligence transform China’s legal system?

    SPEAKERS

    Ray CAMPBELL, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law

    Benjamin LIU, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

     

    VIDEO INTERVIEW (on YouTube)  

     

     

    REPORT

    According to Clarke’s Third Law, the most cited from the set of adages formulated by science fiction writer Arthur Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Professor Ray Campbell started his talk by quoting Clarke’s Third Law to show people’s general impression towards Artificial Intelligence, which involves both admiration and skepticism. These mixed feelings are relevant because, given the public role of law and the several ethical implications linked to the application of Artificial Intelligence to this field, the analysis of the shifting balance between the two will probably enable us to predict whether of not we will see AI judges and courts in the future.

     

     

    Within the last 15 years, AI has gone through numerous improvements, the most important being the development of deep learning: thanks to this progress, scientists have been able to replicate the way the human brain works and AI is now able to process unstructured problems, even though it won’t probably reach the human level of intelligence before the next 50 to 100 years. This development was also made possible by the process of “datification” that has occurred in the last years and has opened up further developments and applications for this potentially life-changing technology. As highlighted by professor Campbell, deep learning is data-based: it is possible only when huge piles of data exist and, thanks to complex algorithms, can be analyzed in order to identify connections among them; thus, given the unrivaled data availability and a Privacy Law way more permissive than in many other countries, China has a very important advantage in this field.

     

     

    Nevertheless, the fact that AI deep learning is data-based presents an inherent issue, that is of particular relevance once applied to crafting of legal opinions and decisions: the risk of replicating bias built into the structure of the system and the datasets it relies on, such as racial and sexist prejudices. For instance, professor Benjamin Liu presented the case of Compas, a risk assessment software tool widely used in the United States’ court system, which analyzes over one hundred features and generates a risk score of reoffending within 2 years. In fact, evidences from Compass assessments show that black defendants were far more likely to be given a higher risk score of reoffending than white defendants.

     

     

    Professor Liu also highlighted some other disadvantages related to the use of such a big amount of data processed through AI softwares. These are the issue of public access to those data, when they are used to convict the defendant, and the lack of motivations behind the decisions. In fact, those AI softwares are very useful to find correlations among data, like among previous cases and decisions, but they are unable to explain the reason why these data are linked to each other or are considered more or less relevant to the case.

     

     

    According to professor Liu, the application of AI to the functioning of the legal system may offer a solution to the problem of access to justice. This is again particularly true in the case of China, where Artificial Intelligence is at the center of the legal system’s reform. Indeed, its application may help not only to improve the functioning of the justice system but also to offer new, less onerous methods for resolving grievances. For instance, the government of Kunming has set up a public legal service online platform where citizens can have access to a legal advisory robot: it provides free legal advices and services on a 24-hour basis thorough the use of advanced Artificial Intelligence techniques. Moreover, AI softwares can perform a number of simple functions such as scheduling and processing data and evidences, providing legal research, reviewing submitted documents and, in their turn, drafting simple ones: these are all basic tasks that can easily be disaggregated and assigned to AI robots and softwares, in order to save judges’ time and speed up the functioning of the legal and justice system as a whole.

     

     

    The final question then is: will the advantages brought about by the application of Artificial Intelligence to the functioning of the legal system outweigh its disadvantages?

     

    The answer is not an easy one, because it raises both technical and ethical questions. Indeed, regardless of how smart AI can become, it will never have the subjective experience that humans have. In the words of professor Liu: if a man wants to learn how to swim, he can read many books about swimming, but he will never have the perception of how swimming really feels like until he jumps into the water. At the end of the day, both speakers agreed on the fact that AI is very useful to assist and speed up the work of judges, but it is still unable to replace them. But as China shows, there is much room for improvement and thanks to technological advancements, AI robots of the future will possibly be able to perform an increasing number of functions. Once the technical issues are solved, however, the ethical questions still remains; quoting Professor Campbell: are we ready to have a machine deciding our basic rights?

     

     

    Report written by Giulia Delgrosso

     

     

     

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      #71 - AI-typical Courts: How Could Artificial Intelligence Transform China's Legal System?  SPEAKERS Ray CAMPBELL, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law Benjamin LIU, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland   ABSTRACT   Artificial Intelligence has the power to redefine the way we live. The growing use of AI technologies in entertainment, education, transportation and healthcare is set to have…
      Tags: ai, system, legal, case, professor, law, artificial, intelligence, application


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  • Benjamin LIU

    Benjamin LIU 

    Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland Business School

     

    Professor Liu is a Senior Lecturer at the Business School of the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Before joining the University, Liu worked at international law firms and leading European banks, specializing in financial derivatives and structured products. He hold a LLB and a Ph.D of the University of Auckland on Banking, Corporate, Finance, and Securities Law. In the past few years his research interests have been focusing on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on law and legal services.

     

     

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      #71 - AI-typical Courts: How Could Artificial Intelligence Transform China's Legal System?  SPEAKERS Ray CAMPBELL, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law Benjamin LIU, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland   ABSTRACT   Artificial Intelligence has the power to redefine the way we live. The growing use of AI technologies in entertainment, education, transportation and healthcare is set to have…
      Tags: legal, professor, law, artificial, intelligence


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  • Ray CAMPBELL

     

    Ray CAMPBELL 

    Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law, Shenzhen Campus

     

    Ray Campbell is a scholar of civil procedure and professional responsibility. His current research concentrates on the intersection of law and commerce, with a special focus on the changing nature of the legal service marketplace in light of technological and economic innovations. Before embarking on his career in academia, Professor Campbell served as law clerk to U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger of the United States Supreme Court, as a law clerk to Judge Malcom Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as prominent litigation partner in the multinational law firms of Kirkland & Ellis  and Jenner & Block, and as Chairman and CEO of HarmonyCentral.com. Professor Campbell received his undergraduate degree from Yale College and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia. He is regularly invited to make presentations on topics related to changes in the legal profession. In particular, in the past few years Professor Campbell has been invited to speak at LexTech Conference in Kuala Lumpur, addressing the impact of Artificial Intelligence in the legal and justice world.

     

     

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      #71 - AI-typical Courts: How Could Artificial Intelligence Transform China's Legal System?  SPEAKERS Ray CAMPBELL, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law Benjamin LIU, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland   ABSTRACT   Artificial Intelligence has the power to redefine the way we live. The growing use of AI technologies in entertainment, education, transportation and healthcare is set to have…
      Tags: legal, professor, law, court, artificial, intelligence


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  • #71 – AI-typical Courts: How Could Artificial Intelligence Transform China’s Legal System?

     

    SPEAKERS

    Ray CAMPBELL, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law

    Benjamin LIU, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

     

    ABSTRACT

     

    Artificial Intelligence has the power to redefine the way we live. The growing use of AI technologies in entertainment, education, transportation and healthcare is set to have a profound impact on these fields. Most recently, the application of AI technologies in the legal and justice system has raised important ethical questions about the potential benefits and limitations of using AI capabilities in the future.

     

    In June 2018, iFlytek, a leading Chinese Information Technology company, announced a partnership with the high courts of three Chinese provinces. Since then, the use of AI in Chinese law courts has escalated, with the PRC Supreme People’s Court recently issuing an Opinions on Accelerating Building of Smart Courts. Currently, AI robots are used to provide litigation guidance and risk analysis, assisting with tasks such as electronic case submission, trial recording and, in the case of the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, act as assistants to the judicial system.

     

    The application of AI technologies in courts could result in increased accuracy, transparency and efficiency during court hearings. However, doubts remain about whether AI technologies can yet meet the complex demands of the legal system. AI robots might, for instance, simply replicate the structural social prejudices of the databases they rely on. Has this been the case in China? How do we weigh up the benefits and limitations of using AI technologies in the legal system? What is the future of AI technologies in Chinese courts?

     

    Join our event #71 for a conversation on the application of Artificial Intelligence to the legal and justice system with Professor Ray Campbell and Professor Benjamin Liu.

     

     

    ThinkINchina is moving back to Wudaokou, we’ll be hosted by a venue that just went into business, Wilderness Coffee – 荒野咖啡 in Chinese, the former Sculpting in Time. Find a pin on Baidu maps here

     

     

    Wilderness Coffee, Wudaokou Chengfu Road, Huaqing Jiayuan 12 bldg

    From Wudaokou subway station, exit B, walks towards South

    北京市海淀区五道口成府路,华清嘉园12号楼2层

    五道口地铁站B口西南100米 – 原雕刻时光旧址

     

    PLEASE TO RSVP CLICK HERE

    OR

    SCAN THIS QR CODE

     

     

    Our events are as usually for free, we kindly ask you to register in advance in order to help us in the organization of the venue, thanks!

     

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      Benjamin LIUBenjamin LIU  Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland Business School   Professor Liu is a Senior Lecturer at the Business School of the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Before joining the University, Liu worked at international law firms and leading European banks, specializing in financial derivatives and structured products. He hold…
      Tags: law, intelligence, legal, artificial, professor
    • 10000
      Ray CAMPBELL  Ray CAMPBELL  Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law, Shenzhen Campus   Ray Campbell is a scholar of civil procedure and professional responsibility. His current research concentrates on the intersection of law and commerce, with a special focus on the changing nature of the legal service marketplace…
      Tags: law, professor, legal, court, intelligence, artificial
    • 10000
      #71 - Event Report - AI-typical courts: how could Artificial Intelligence transform China's legal system?SPEAKERS Ray CAMPBELL, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law Benjamin LIU, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland   VIDEO INTERVIEW (on YouTube)       REPORT According to Clarke's Third Law, the most cited from the set of adages formulated by science fiction writer Arthur Clarke, any sufficiently advanced…
      Tags: ai, legal, professor, system, intelligence, law, artificial, application, case


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  • #70 – Event Report – Trumped: the Future of China-US Rivalry

    SPEAKER

    SHI Yinhong 时殷弘, Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China

     

    VIDEO INTERVIEW (on YouTube)

     

     

    REPORT

     

    Relations between China and the United States have long been typified by rivalry rather than accommodation. The on-going trade war between China and the US is the culmination of over a decade of trending strategic and trade hostilities between the two global superpowers. According to Shi Yinhong, Professor of International Relations at Renmin University, China’s rising economic and military strength under President Xi Jinping has mobilised its antagonists on the international stage.

     

     

    The two major points of contention in the China-US rivalry narrative are on the strategic and trade fronts. Although Donald Trump has undoubtedly intensified hostilities since his election as US President in 2017, professor Shi identifies the structural trend for strategic rivalries between Beijing and Washington as being of increasing importance from as early as 2008, when the global financial crisis and economic recession hit. The rivalry, he notes, was simplified to contest between Hu Jingtao and Obama, then between current President Xi Jinping and Obama. Throughout 2017 it was the strategic front that dominated Xi and Trump’s attentions. The China-US arms race over the Western Pacific and maritime rivalries in the South and East China Seas have become increasingly hostile. According to Shi Yinhong, Trump’s strategy towards China in 2017 was to make China-US relations ‘the prisoner of a single issue’: North Korean nuclear and missile development. The US military strike against North Korea and ‘secondary sanctions’ against China seemingly ‘tamed’ China. Trade was a secondary ‘accessory’ for Trump until early 2018. A new dimension of China-US rivalry was demarcated by the concept of ‘sharp power’ and criticism of China’s perceived ideological drive abroad. Shi Yinhong notes how ‘predatory’ has become the Trump Administration’s standard adjective to describe China’s economic practices in the developing world, particularly President Xi’s promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative.

     

     

    According to Shi Yinhong, it wasn’t until Trump had already leveraged all of China’s influence over North Korea, almost to the point of economic strangulation, that the US applied the same tactics to the China-US trade front. The trade rivalry between the two nations has espoused a similar narrative to the strategic front, with the structural elements for confrontation established well before Trump’s time in office. Since the 6th July 2018, when the US began installing higher tariffs on billions of imports from China, Donald Trump’s escalating trade war has forced China to make deeper, broader, and more rapid economic reform a priority. As it stands the US has imposed higher tariffs on 250 billion worth of Chinese goods with retaliatory duties placed on 110 billion of US products. Shi Yinhong warns that the liberal economic globalisation that has benefitted China since they joined the WTO in 2001 has been met with increasing unpopularity. He outlines four main areas of criticism: Chinese trade surplus or their trade deficit; China’s narrowing market access to US and other advanced industrial countries’ capital; state control of China’s domestic economy and economic and technological activities abroad, the most sinister of which being accusations of intellectual property theft and the emerging Made in China 2025 program, and the special preferences and considerable subsidies given to China’s state-owned enterprises. Shi Yinhong acknowledges that for most international audiences the US and European Union’s harsh criticism of China on these counts is considered legitimate.

     

     

     

    As trade talks continue and further rounds of tariffs remain a possibility, Shi Yinhong argues that China’s desire to protect its vulnerable domestic economy from damage means the strategic front currently holds secondary status for the Chinese. He forecasts that Taiwan and the arms race with the US will take priority over other strategic affairs, a decision that is likely to bring about significant retrenchment on the strategic front. According to Shi Yinhong, the trade war in the context of China’s pre-existing economic vulnerabilities is definitely a historic one. In his view it has forced China to prioritise what has been a ‘somewhat diffused foreign policy agenda’ since the 18th CCP national congress six years ago. A change in priorities ‘is definitely a blessing to China’s diplomacy’ if the expectation of improved relations with Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada, and the improvement of its trade practice, is made a reality. In Shi Yinhong’s view, China’s ultimate task is to avoid the dangerous possibility of a ‘dichotomy’ in the world political economy, with the US, on the one hand, mitigating their economic and trade rivals by dismantling the WTO, which might force China, on the other, to precariously depend on friendly developing countries to conduct its primary foreign economic activities.

     

    Report written by Tara Doolabh

    Video editing by Giulia Delgrosso

     

     

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      #70 - Trumped: the Future of China-US RivalrySPEAKER   SHI Yinhong 时殷弘 Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China   ABSTRACT   The past decade has seen China rising prominently on the international stage, joining the major power club. At the same time, its rivalry towards the United States of America has become more and…
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      SHI Yinhong  SHI Yinhong 时殷弘 Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China   Dr. Shi Yinhong is a professor of International Relations, Chairman of Academic Committee of the School of International Studies, and Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing. He has…
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  • #70 – Trumped: the Future of China-US Rivalry

    SPEAKER

     

    SHI Yinhong 时殷弘 Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China

     

    ABSTRACT

     

    The past decade has seen China rising prominently on the international stage, joining the major power club. At the same time, its rivalry towards the United States of America has become more and more severe, in particular after the elections of President Donald Trump, whose “Make America Great Again” program has directly targeted China’s economy, with the imposition of high tariffs on millions of dollars of Chinese exports to America, with the aim of rebalancing the wide China-US trade surplus.

    The temporary trade truce is still ongoing, since President Trump decided not to increase the second round of tariffs to 25% on March 1st, as previously stated, but negotiators on both sides are skeptical about being able to reach an agreement in the next few weeks.

     

    Which are the main elements that characterize the Trump’s administration towards China? What’s the strategic imperative that China should focus on right now for dealing with the trade war in a way not to damage too much its own economic and financial system?

     

    Join our event#70 for a conversation on Sino-American relations with Shi Yinhong, Distinguished Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

     

    ThinkINchina is moving back to Wudaokou, we’ll be hosted by a venue that just went into business, Wilderness Coffee – 荒野咖啡 in Chinese, the former Sculpting in Time. Find a pin on Baidu maps here

     

     

    Wilderness Coffee, Wudaokou Chengfu Road, Huaqing Jiayuan 12 bldg

    From Wudaokou subway station, exit B, walks towards South

    北京市海淀区五道口成府路,华清嘉园12号楼2层

    五道口地铁站B口西南100米 – 原雕刻时光旧址

     

    PLEASE RSVP USING THIS QR CODE

     

     

    Our events are as usually for free, we kindly ask you to register in advance in order to help us in the organization of the venue, thanks!

     

    After the talk in Wudaokou, you’re all invited to join us at Dusk Dawn Club for the new thinkINchina after party!

    Celebrate with music and friends the beginning of a new TIC season. Starting from 11.0o pm onwards we’ll have dj HamoudH playing, check his set here on Pyro.cn

    Those that will attend the talk will gain free access to the party and discounts on drinks, while those joining us later will be requested to pay an entry fee to the club of 40¥.

     

     

    Link on Baidu Maps

    Dusk Dawn Club – Shanlao hutong 14, Dongcheng District, Beijing

    黄昏黎明俱乐部 – 北京市东城区山老胡同14号院

     

     

     

     

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      #70 - Event Report - Trumped: the Future of China-US RivalrySPEAKER SHI Yinhong 时殷弘, Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China   VIDEO INTERVIEW (on YouTube)     REPORT   Relations between China and the United States have long been typified by rivalry rather than accommodation. The on-going trade war between China and the US is the culmination of…
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  • SHI Yinhong

     

    SHI Yinhong 时殷弘

    Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China

     

    Dr. Shi Yinhong is a professor of International Relations, Chairman of Academic Committee of the School of International Studies, and Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing. He has served as a counselor of the State Council of China since February 2011. He previously was a professor of International History at Nanjing University from 1993 to 1998, and a professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Strategic Studies at International Relations Academy, Nanjing from 1998 to 2001. He also served as the President of American Historical Research Association of China from 1996 to 2002.

    Dr. Shi obtained a Ph.D. degree in International History at Nanjing University in 1988 and a M.A. degree in the History of the U.S. Foreign Relations at the same institution in 1981. He was a visiting fellow at Harvard-Yenching Institute at Harvard University from 1983 to 1984, a visiting fellow at Federal Institute for Eastern European and International Studies in Cologne in 1992, a Fulbright research visiting scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1995 to 1996. He taught graduate courses as a visiting professor of Public Policy three times at University of Michigan, a visiting professor of Modern China Studies at Aichi University in Nagoya, and a visiting instructor of Chinese Foreign Policy at University of Denver. He was invited to deliver speeches or participate in scholarly conferences abroad about two-hundred times mainly in Asia, the United States, and Europe.

    Dr. Shi Yinhong has engaged in research and teaching on the history and theory of international politics, strategic studies, East Asia security, and foreign policies of both China and the United States. He has over 520 professional articles and essays published in academic journals, magazines and newspapers, as well as 15 translated books mainly on strategic history and international politics published.

     

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    • 62
      Prof. Dr. ZHANG Qingmin 张清敏 Professor, Center for International & Strategic Studies, School of International Studies, Peking University Prof. ZHANG works at the Center for International & Strategic Studies in the School of International Studies at Peking University. He previously taught at China Foreign Affairs University, and has been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar…
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  • #69 – Event Report – China’s Polar Silk Road

    SPEAKERS

     

    HONG Nong 洪农 Executive Director and Senior Fellow, Institute for China-America Studies

    CHEN Gang 陈刚 Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore  

     

    REPORT  

     

    For our event#69, ThinkIN China invited two distinguished speakers, Hong Nong, Executive Director and Senior Fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, and Chen Gang, Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore, to share their takes on China’s Arctic Policy and discuss the various challenges and opportunities it brings about. In her presentation, Hong examined the implications of China’s first White Paper on Arctic Policy, published in January 2018, and described the different dimensions in which China’s interest in the Arctic manifests itself. After describing how China assumed an observer status in the Arctic Council in 2013 – having worked towards that goal for five years –  and shedding light on China’s effort in promoting bilateral ties with each individual Arctic country, Hong moved on to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with shipping and resource development in the Arctic.   Since half of China’s GDP depends on shipping and many of the world’s largest container terminals and most productive ports are located in China, as Hong illustrated in her presentation, the opportunities of new and shorter sea routes created by the melting Arctic are of high interest to China. The new routes are an opportunity for China to diversify its supply and trade routes and reduce its dependency on the Strait of Malacca and the Lombok Strait. At the same time, these new routes bear economic benefits not only because of the shorter distance, but also in terms of avoiding piracy issues that in the past decade had significantly increased insurance cost.  

       

    However, Hong stressed that safety challenges, due to restricted search and rescue capability, as well as environmental challenges need to be considered as well. Moreover, the legal aspect constitutes another major challenge for Arctic shipping, as some states do not agree on the legal status of Arctic sea routes, which can be considered international waters, that can be used freely, or internal waters of a state, in which case passing requires the respective state’s permission. Hong used  the legal divergence between Canada and the US regarding the Northwest Passage to make a case in point.   Aside from shipping, resource development in the Arctic constitutes another major point of interest for China. However, as the boundaries within and beyond national jurisdiction has not been clarified due to the pending submission with the Commission of the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf, China can currently only engage in resource development in the Arctic through cooperation with Arctic states. Furthermore, resource exploitation in the Arctic is also confronted with economic and technological challenges due to the high cost and technological requirements caused by harsh weather and difficult access; additionally, political and legal challenges are brought about by increasing and competing interest on the part of non-Arctic states, such as South Korea and Japan.   The development of Arctic resources requires enormous investment and China is well positioned to facilitate this investment, to acquire a major stake and in turn, as Hong pointed out, Chinese leaders hope that Arctic states will be inclined to back Chinese interests in the region. By trying to boost cooperation between Arctic and non-Arctic states and to increase its say in Arctic affairs through a strategy of scientific diplomacy, participation in Arctic institutions and resource diplomacy, China has shown lots of potential in terms of its future role in the Arctic, Hong concluded.  

     

     

    Subsequently, Chen Gang analyzed the Arctic Council member countries’ respective relationships with China, putting China’s Arctic Policy in the bigger context of an overall national strategy. China’s Arctic policy, as Chen put it, is not only about commercial interest, not only about tapping into natural resources or sea routes, but it is also about international relations, about the fight for global influence. China is not just building its relations with the geopolitical superpowers US and Russia, but with Northern European countries as well as Canada. Chen described China’s engagement in the Arctic region as very similar to its engagement in other areas of the world in terms of it being incremental and non-provocative and seeking win-win situations.   Chen then provided a brief overview of China’s relations with Arctic countries. With Russia, China has a strategic cooperative partnership on Arctic issues, whereas under the Trump administration cooperation between China and the US has significantly decreased. China´s relationship with Canada has been quite good in the past, and especially under Trudeau. The talks between China and Canada on a free trade agreement, however, have been hampered by a new agreement among the US, Canada and Mexico. China now invests strongly in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Generally, Chen viewed the human rights issue, high environmental standards, the non-market economy status of China and the arms embargo of the European Union as major obstacles for China’s pursuit of its economic relations with European countries. Chen underlined his argument of increasing importance of northern countries, European countries and Canada for China, by pointing towards the big change China’s outbound investment is currently undergoing. Total FDI from China to Europe in the first half of this year reached 12 billion USD, 6 times of its FDI in the US. Investment in Europe is still growing, at a rate of about 4 to 5%, whereas investment in US dropped dramatically, by more than 90%, attributable to the ongoing trade war.  

     

    In his conclusion, while Chen considered the Arctic strategy a good platform for China to improve its relations with these countries, he also pointed out that due to many uncertainties, as the geopolitical environment continues to change, and, depending on how the political actors engage with each other, the Arctic issue might also become a platform for all these relationships to deteriorate.  

     

    Report written by Theresa Stubhan.  

     

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      #69 - Event Report - China's Polar Silk RoadSPEAKERS   HONG Nong 洪农 Executive Director and Senior Fellow, Institute for China-America Studies CHEN Gang 陈刚 Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore     REPORT     For our event#69, ThinkIN China invited two distinguished speakers, Hong Nong, Executive Director and Senior Fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, and Chen Gang, Assistant Director and Senior…
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  • HONG Nong

    HONG Nong 洪农

    Executive Director and Senior Fellow, Institute for China-America Studies

     

    Dr. Hong is Executive Director and Senior Fellow of Institute for China-America Studies. She holds a Ph.d of interdisciplinary study of international law and international relations from the University of Alberta, Canada and held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the University’s China Institute. She was ITLOS-Nippon Fellow for International Dispute Settlement (2008-09), and Visiting Fellow at the Center of Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia (2009) and at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (2007). She is currently a research fellow with China Institute, University of Alberta, Canada, and the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, China. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine international relations and international law, with focus on IR and comparative politics in general; ocean governance in East Asia and the Arctic; law of the sea; international security, particularly non-traditional security; and international dispute settlement and conflict resolution.

     

    Her selected publications include China’s Interests in the Arctic: Opportunities & Challenges – Examining the implications of China’s Arctic policy white paper (2018), Maritime Order and the Law in East Asia (Routeldge, 2018, co-edited with Gordon Houlden), Understanding the Freedom of Navigation Doctrine and China-US Relations in the South China Sea Legal Concepts, Practice, and Policy Implication (2017); UNCLOS and Ocean Dispute Settlement: Law and Politics in the South China Sea (Routledge, 2012); Maritime Security Issues in the South China Sea and the Arctic: Sharpened Competition or Collaboration? (China Democracy and Legal System Publishing House, 2012); Recent Developments in the South China Sea Dispute: The Prospect of a Joint Development Regime (Ashgate, 2014, co-edited with Wu Shicun); UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the South China Sea (Ashgate, 2015, co-edited with Wu Shicun, Mark Valencia).

     

     

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  • #69 – China’s Polar Silk Road

    SPEAKERS

     

    HONG Nong 洪农 Executive Director and Senior Fellow, Institute for China-America Studies

     

    CHEN Gang 陈刚 Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore

     

    ABSTRACT

     

    With nearly half of its GDP being shipping-dependent, anything affecting international shipping will have a tremendous impact on Chinese economy. Climate change is speeding up the melting of the ice-covereted Arctic,  opening up new northern sea routes that will shorten the distance between Asia and Western Europe by over 6.000 km. It is also estimated that the Arctic contains up to 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13% of the world undiscovered oil resources.

     

    Despite it is not an Arctic littoral state – it has not Arctic coast and no sovereign rights to underwater continental shelves – in the past few years China has become a member of every single Arctic and Arctic-related governance body it was entitled to join and is strengthening diplomatic and economic relations with all the Arctic countries. Free-trade deals, investments in mining and infrastructure, real estate interests but also one of the world’s strongest polar scientific research capability are all elements of the new China’s Arctic strategy, revealed earlier this year, in January 2018, with the release of the first White Paper focusing on “China’s Arctic Policy”.

     

    Which are then the biggest opportunities related to the opening of the Polar Silk Road? Who are the actors involved in shaping this strategy? And most of all which are the challenges that China will have to deal with, both on the environmental level but also in its relations with Arctic states, including Russia? 

     

    SUGGESTED READINGS

     

    • Hong, Nong (2014), Emerging Interests of non-Arctic Countries in the Arctic: a Chinese Perspective, The Polar Journal, 4:2, 271-286
    • Gang, Chen (2012), China’s Emerging Arctic Strategy, The Polar Journal, 2:2, 358-317

     

    VENUE

     

    Since the Bridge Café does not exist anymore, for this event we will be hosted by Tsinghua SEM X-Elerator 清华经管学院-创业者加速器, at the entrance of Innoway Zhongguancun.

     

    Address:

    Innoway Zhongguancun, Haohai Building 3rd floor, Haidian East Street 36, Haidian, Beijing 

    北京市海淀区海淀西大街36号中关村创业大街昊海楼写字楼3层

    Link on Baidu Maps

     

    *On the northern entrance of the Haohai building there’s the lift that will take you to the third floor, directly at the X-Elerator

     

    PLEASE RSVP USING THIS QR CODE

     

    Our events are as usually for free, we kindly ask you to register in advance in order to help us in the organization of the venue, thanks!

     

    SalvaSalva

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    CHEN Gang 陈刚

    Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore

     

    Dr. Chen Gang is Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow of the East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore. Since he joined the EAI in 2007, he has been tracing China’s politics, foreign policy, environmental and energy policies, publishing extensively on these issues. He is the single author of The Politics of Disaster Management in China: Institutions, Interest Groups, and Social Participation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), China’s Climate Policy (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), Politics of China’s Environmental Protection: Problems and Progress (Singapore: World Scientific, 2009) and The Kyoto Protocol and International Cooperation against Climate Change (in Chinese) (Beijing: Xinhua Press, 2008). His research papers have appeared in internationally-refereed journals such as Asia Pacific Business Review, The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, The International Spectator, The Polar Journal, China: An International Journal, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, and The Journal of East Asian Affairs. He is frequently interviewed by media like Bloomberg TV, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, NHK, Channel NewsAsia and Xinhua News Agency. He sometimes gives lectures at the Business School of the National University of Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, and Singapore Environment Institute. He helps the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to design the “Public Sector Risk Management” curriculum for MPA students. He is a member of the Global Emerging Voices program jointly sponsored by The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Stiftung Mercator, Torino World Affairs Institute and Australian National University. He has participated in various international research projects like the “EU-Asia Dialogue” co-funded by the European Union and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) of Germany and the Asian Energy Program sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

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  • #68 – Event report – Engaging the Middle East: China’s rising role in the region

    SPEAKERS

     

    NIU Xinchun 牛新春, Research Professor, Director of Institute of Middle East Studies, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)

    Tugrul KESKIN, Professor and Director, Center for Global Governance, Institute of Global Studies, Shanghai University

     

    REPORT

     

    According to prof. Keskin, with the economic development derived from the Opening Up policy, launched forty years ago by Deng Xiaoping, China’s middle class has grown exponentially, increasing national oil consumption and consequently the demand for fossil fuels. Therefore, China is turning its eyes to the Middle East to fulfill its own demand for oil and gas, particularly by importing it from the Persian Gulf. From a Chinese perspective, the Middle East has always been the United States’ “backyard”, and therefore China, which had most of its economic and diplomatic ties in the African continent, entered the Middle East are more cautiously, in order not to get in direct conflict with the United States. However, from President Obama’s administration onwards, the USA has begun to retrieve its presence in the area, changing its policy towards the entire region. Energy-wise, US interests are decreasing since the adoption of new oil-producing techniques, such as fracking, that helped the US in 2013 to see its crud oil production surpassing net imports.

     

    On the opposite side of the world, around 50% of Chinese oil demand is fulfilled by the Gulf’s countries. To protect and preserve its interests, China must play a more determinant role in the Middle East to stabilize the region, which does not imply a military intervention, but more a use of different soft power tools, as the launch in 2013 of the Belt and Road Initiative. The consistent problem of the Middle East is the struggle for stability, which according to the Chinese vision can be reached only through economic development. China is progressively shifting approach to the Middle East by intensifying its diplomatic ties, especially towards Iran. However, in its new policy, China is not considering engaging non-governmental actors who are an active part of local civil society, like Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood, key players in deterring the stability of the entire region.

     

    According to professor Niu, unlike Europe, the USA or Russia, China engages only partially with the Middle East. The main field of interest in the region for Beijing is the economic sector, especially trades in the energetic domain. In the past thirty years, China dramatically increased its presence in the Middle East, becoming for several Middle Eastern countries the biggest and main trade partner, hitting in 2015 350 billion dollars value in bilateral trades. In more recent times, bilateral trade values reduced to 240 billion dollars, because of the variation in gas and oil prices; nonetheless, the amount of product imported by China from the region is still increasing. 68% of China’s oil consumption derives from foreign countries, and half of it comes from Middle Eastern countries: as an example, three out of ten Chinese cars are fueled with Middle Eastern oil, making the region extremely important for China’s energy security. 

    In terms of investments, China FDI in the area increased quickly in the last 10 years, but compared to Western countries  – Europe and the US – the amount invested is still small. In 2016 China FDI in the Middle East was less than 10 billion dollars, with almost half of them directed towards Israel.

     

    For what concerns Arab countries, China is investing cautiously due to instability, political and economic risks. For BRI the Middle East is an important component, but since the launch of the initiative the region has fallen into a very unstable situation, which makes it unfavorable to implement such a wide and intense program. China has engaged politically the Middle East, but it has not a political influence over the region; the only instrument to be influential is the veto power within the UN Security Council. In Syria, China has used its veto power six times, but generally China tries not to get involved in tangled and sensitive topics. As an example, during the Syrian crisis, China did not take part in the Geneva negotiations, as well as for the negotiation and political debate concerning the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. 

     

    China is engaging economically the region, but this engagement is not extended to the military sector, since it does not have a military base in the area of any military or political ally in the Middle East. China has also learned the lesson from other major powers, which tried to control and stabilize the area with negative results. In China, middle school students are taught that the Middle East is the great powers’ “graveyard”. The USA had and still has the ability, military power and instruments to resolve crisis, however, the in the last 15 years its initiatives had a very negative impact, destabilizing even more the region. Europe as well has interests in resolving the Middle Eastern crisis, but it has not a united military power and so the ability to have an impact. According to professor Niu, in a foreseeable future, China will not actively get involved in the Middle East. However, if China wants to expand its global influence and compete against the United States, the Middle East will be a last choice.

     

    Report written by Andrea Barbieri

     

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  • Podcast #67 – European Responses to China’s BRI

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