Author Archive
  • ZHAO Changhui

    Dr. ZHAO Changhui 赵昌会

    Chief Country Risk Analyst, Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM Bank)

    zhao-changhuiDr. ZHAO Changhui is veteran manager at The Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank), specializing in China’s national security policy. His expertise lies in geo-economics of natural resources, energy geo-politics, world politics, international security, global economy, international monetary regime, all-region studies and country risk assessment. His Ph.D. discipline in history of economics thought at Renmin University of China was completed in 2004. An M.A. candidate in economics with Beijing Normal University in 2001, he received his B.A. in economics from Tianjin University of Economics and Finance in 1984. Zhao is the designer of China’s present-day strategy toward Africa and inventor of Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), as well as participating in many think-tanks such as China Society for International Finance (CSIF), Asia-Africa Development and Exchange Society (AADES), Council on National Security Policy (CNSP), and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Dr Zhao was in charge of North American and Oceanian affairs with Bank of China during 1985–1994, starting at People’s Bank of China.

  • ZHU Feng

    Prof. Dr. ZHU Feng 朱锋

    Deputy Director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies (CISS), School of International Studies, Peking University

    ZHU FengProfessor ZHU began his undergraduate studies at the Department of International Politics at Peking University in 1981 and received his PhD. from Peking University in 1991. He is currently a professor at the university’s School of International Studies and Deputy Director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies (CISS). He is a leading Chinese security expert and senior research fellow of the Center for Peace and Development of China.


    • Ballistic Missile Defense and International Security, Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, 2001
    • International Relations Theory and East Asian Security, Beijing: People’s University Press, 2007
    • co-edited with Prof. Robert S. Ross, China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and Furure of International politics, Cornell University Press, 2008

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      Prof. YU Tiejun Associate Professor, School of International Studies, Peking University Yu Tiejun is an associate professor in the School of International Studies (SIS) and Assistant President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University. Previously, he studied at the University of Tokyo in 1998-2000, and served…
      Tags: university, international, peking, studies, security, press, school, center, professor

  • #23 event report: Looking into the Future: China’s Low Carbon Policies


    February 24, 2013, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Dr. ZHANG Ruijie 张瑞杰, Managing Director, Low Carbon City China Programme, Beijing


    Dr. Zhang opened his talk by framing climate change as a global concern. He underlined the importance of mitigating the adverse effects of climate change as an international policy issue, and as a challenge for sustainable development. He pointed out that as early as the nineteenth century people started realizing that human actions and societal developments take a toll on the environment. The increased emission of carbon dioxide and its immediate consequence known as a greenhouse effect are unintended consequences of  industrialization. Moreover, Dr. Zhang considers the greenhouse gas emission not only a factor of climate change, but also pollution, other natural imbalances and disasters.

    Dr. Zhang outlined what he calls a “common consensus” of the international community that not only frames climate change as a policy challenge, but also puts it “at the heart of scientific and political debates.” Individual governments, but also international organizations – in the first place the United Nations (UN) – have been working hard to address the problem of mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. Dr. Zhang outlined several key historic developments, such as the 1992  Earth Summit which resulted with the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; he also elaborated on the importance of the 1997 Kyoto protocol as the most important joint effort of the international community, and especially of the industrialized and highly developed countries to take action on the climate change issue. This last point is of special importance, especially when one has China in perspective – the global climate change policy dialogue has been marked by a tug-of-war between the developed and the developing countries on points such as the capacities of individual governments to face the climate change issue, and the scope of eventual commitment to legally binding norms – in fact, the biggest step forwards towards taking a global action on climate change have been always the result of reaching a consensus between these two sides.

    Then Dr. Zhang spoke of the UN initiatives and other global efforts to mitigate climate change consequences, as well as the most notable achievements. He listed the Bali Roadmap adopted in 2007 as an important step forward; then spoke of the importance of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, 2009 and the consensus of pursuing the long term goal of limiting the global average increase of the temperature, as well as the obligations the developed countries made for assisting developing countries to raise funds and implement policy measures. Then Dr. Zhang discussed the 2010 Conference in Cancun, the 2011 Conference in Durban and the 2012 Conference in Doha, as well as the developments and challenges regarding the extension of the Kyoto protocol.

    Speaking of China’s domestic policies, measures and actions taken to address climate change and to promote low carbon development, Dr. Zhang pointed out China had introduced low carbon principles several years ago. In 2006, the government set the goal of reducing the per-unit GDP energy consumption by 20 percent from that of 2005, by 2010. In 2007 China became the first developing country in the world to formulate and embark on the implementation of a national program to address the effects of climate change and to reverse climate change. In 2009, Chinese leaders adopted the goal of reducing the per-unit GDP greenhouse gas emission by 40-45% compared to the level of 2005, by 2020.


  • #22 event report: The Question of Identity in Cultural China

    December 4, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Prof. Dr. TU Weiming 杜维明, Director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Peking University


    With Bridge Café more crowded than Beijing’s Line 2 subway at rush hour, Professor Tu captured the attention of listeners by recounting the intellectual history of “文化中国,” or “Cultural China.” His narrative moved from the field’s genesis among Malaysian Chinese researchers on Taiwan to concepts of an endless periphery of Cultural China, one in which there exists no center. Professor Tu then outlined his core philosophy regarding the three symbolic universes of Cultural China: First, the East Asian countries with Han Chinese ethnic majorities; second, the Chinese diaspora within and beyond East Asia; and third, most controversially, any person concerned about China in a long-term perspective, including diplomats, journalists, and those who attend ThinkIN China events. Professor Tu emphasized that membership in the third group is not limited to those with pro-China attitudes, as both “dragon-slayers” and “panda-huggers” are included.

    The latter half of the lecture touched upon the tensions within contemporary Cultural China. Citing various statistics, Professor Tu noted the implications of varied cultural identification among Chinese living in Taiwan or Hong Kong, as many seem themselves as Chinese in the sense of “华人” but not as “中国人,” the latter term increasingly interpreted as a political identity affiliated with the mainland government. He also noted the need for diversity as a prerequisite for harmony. In closing, Professor Tu highlighted the two most pressing challenges within Cultural China that Communist Party leaders faces. First, he argued for a reevaluation of religion and the need for a serious dialogue between religion and science as guiding forces in China’s development. Second, Professor Tu extoled the need to develop culture alongside the economy, particularly in light of what he deemed the death of the five main Confucian values and the unhealthy growth of a “market society” alongside the market economy.


    Audience questions sparked intriguing anecdotes regarding Professor Tu’s first interactions with skeptical Tibetan exiles as well as deepened intellectual discourse on the syncretic nature of Confucian philosophy. In addition, Professor Tu noted that despite his American citizenship, he does identify as a “中国人.” With time running short, Professor Tu received a standing ovation before the discussions continued at a year-end celebration

  • #21 event report: China’s Investments in Europe

    November 20, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Dr. ZHAO Changhui 赵昌会, Senior Country Risk Analyst, China ExIm Bank


    Dr. Zhao opened his lecture with an overview of the state of the global economy in 2012. His main impression is that overall, most of the countries are having difficult time to recover from the recession. He argued that the gloomy reality and the pessimistic prospects for the future are especially the case in Europe, which has been severely affected by the global economic crisis.

    Dr. Zhao believes that the financial crisis, which he stated explicitly as originating from US and Europe, is changing the world we’re living in and the ways we think and act in terms of economic policy. The economic policies in Europe have been predominantly focused on overcoming the crisis. The outcome of this has been the adoptions of policies that are not always popular or efficient, such as austerity programs; unconditional and unreasonable revenues imposed on citizens and companies. The problems are especially severe in Greece and other peripheral economies where the “workforce wants to evade responsibility” and “the government is confronted with severe constraints” and can’t spend additional money on bailouts.

    In this respect, the Sino-European economic ties have been as well primarily focused on engaging in joint efforts to alleviate the effects of the crisis, especially in the countries of the Eurozone.

    Dr. Zhao briefly discussed the example of the way the US deals with the crisis, which he vaguely defined as increased public spending through printing money.

    He also discussed the intellectual contributions by leading economists such as  Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman – especially the former being a sound critic of both the US and EU policies, arguing for stimulating public spending and praising the Chinese way of dealing with the crisis. Dr. Zhao tends to agree with this view, arguing that a damaged economy first needs recovery, and as a follow-up, pursuit of growth, or to cite him: “when you are seriously ill, it’s important first to recover, and then to do body building.”

    In this sense, he believes that the pro-austerity economic policy of crisis-struck Europe is a mistake – the austerity freezes economic activity and has long-term repercussions. This, in his estimation, will lead to a decade-long recovery for many countries in the Eurozone – even authoritative leaders such as the German chancellor Merkel by now admit that it will take at least five years for Europe to bounce back.

    These developments in Europe, as Dr. Zhao puts it, are an obvious problem for China. The government is eager to take action towards helping Europe to recover, but its options so far remain very limited. It also has its own interests when it comes to investing in Europe – China wants to spend its surplus fast, because of potential depreciation of the renminbi for instance – hence trying very hard to push its investment to go global.

    One of the main problems of the Chinese government and investors is that they don’t really know European countries or are not interested in them – which as Dr. Zhao said, might sound shocking to the European audience, given the historic importance of Europe. The reason for this is that in the aftermath of the crisis Europe is not in the center anymore. Hence, China first needs to realize what is going on in Europe – both in terms of different individual countries and on the level of the European Union.

    Dr. Zhao pointed out that there is the problem of protectionism mushrooming in the core European economies. He ironically noted that free trade in today’s world remains illusion, as we can’t just hop on a plane on to go and do business. The Doha round has lost its steam – as nobody really is pushing for advancement of the free trade talks. Protectionism is a major bottleneck for the trade volume even for the major trade partners in the world, China and the EU. Protectionism, Dr. Zhao noted, remains an internal European problem, as even within EU, some of the peripheral countries can’t sell whatever they want and they want in the rest of the Union. Protectionism in times of crisis is related with the increased level of nationalist sentiments and the return of geo-economic reasoning.


    In the Q&A session, Dr. Zhao discussed a question on the strategy of the Ex-Im Bank and whether it follows purely economic reasoning or it also follows political interest and connections. He argued that political connections have little value, especially compared to the past – China is growingly careful where it invests and its strategists are more market savvy. In the aftermath of the Libya crisis, where China had invested based on political ties, it suffered huge loss – this and similar cases only perpetuated the trend of moving beyond politically motivated investment.

    Dr. Zhao defended the strategy of China to deal with the crisis via stimulus package. He also argued against the danger of growing inflation in China, and characterized China’s strategy as sustainable.

    The speech started with a half hour delay, however, the turnout was excellent; the convivial activity afterwards was a great success and the speaker enthusiastically participated.

    (Report by Anastas Vangeli)

  • #20 event report: New Leaders, New Policies? 18th Congress and China-USA Relations

    October 30, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. XIE Tao 谢韬, Beijing Foreign Studies University, American Studies Center


    Given the proximity to the American election and Chinese 18th Party Congress, Professor Xie Tao spoke to a captivated audience on the future of China-USA relations. His core argument, supported by a wide range of evidence, was that despite spouts of angry rhetoric, China-USA relations faces no immediate major threats; however, the potential problems that lie ahead could, if unaddressed, lead to conflict or even military confrontation. Positing that the relationship remains strong, Professor Xie cited economic statistics as well as the burgeoning number of Chinese students studying at American universities. Yet he acknowledged trade disputes, sometimes-vitriolic nationalism, and the adjustment to both countries’ changing roles in maintaining Pacific security as the most prescient potential threats to amicable relations.

    To address such issues, Professor Xie advocated for both governments to inform their respective publics about the importance and complexities of China-USA relations. He lightly chastised both sides for not using their pulpits to speak about their trans-Pacific partners. Despite President Obama’s aggressive rhetoric in the presidential debates, Professor Xie argued that his re-election would improve relations with China, as second-term presidents tend to implement foreign policy that solidifies a positive legacy in the White House. As for China, he further prescribed two new policies: first, for top leaders to increase transparency in their decision-making process; second, for Chinese leaders to present themselves as more personable and less rigid.


    The Q&A session covered a range of topics, including the paramount importance of cyber-security, barriers to the European Union acting as an international mediator, and China’s potential dispatch of warships to guard the shipping lanes from pirates off the coast of East Africa. With regard to political reform, Professor Xie emphasized the potential for a relaxation of internal censorship and extension of local elections to the county level, both of which would almost certainly win high praise from the United States. Driving such reforms, argued Professor Xie, would be the third “cycle of legitimacy” for authoritarian regime, which Professor Xie deemed “post-industrial values.” With many questions still unanswered and audience members captivated as ever, we regrettably had to end the discussion, as we had already surpassed the allotted 90 minutes.

    Professor Xie received an extended applause before participants moved to EATalia for continued discussions and a special birthday celebration for ThinkIN China Senior Enrico Fardella.

    (Report by Frauke Austermann and Matthias Niedenführ)

  • Matthias Niedenführ: Adapting Postmodern and Postcolonial thought to the needs of China

    Matthias Niedenführ, European Centre for Chinese Studies (ECCS), Peking University / Tübingen University

    Prof. Dr. Lei Yi (雷颐) is a renowned historian and intellectual at the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). He publishes extensively on late Qing history and frequently writes essays and comments on current events in the press and in his blog on Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter).

    In his presentation “Interpretation of Post-modern Theory and Post-colonial Theory in the Context of China’s Modernity“ (中国现代语境中的后现代与后殖民阐释) he critically analyzes both the way that these theories have been adopted and interpreted in China and the contradictions that “Post-School” intellectuals in China tend to ignore. On top of that he also questions to some degree the legitimacy of the original proponents of Post-Colonial theory when it comes to “speaking for the Third World”.

    “Third World” status of Post-Colonial theorists

    Lei states that although many influential post-colonial theorists like Edward Said, Prasenjit Duara, Arif Dirlik, etc. are of Non-Caucasian ancestry and have a “Third World” background, they have long lived in Western countries and attained notable teaching positions there after having completely shed off the “Third World” label. Only after attaining a certain status did they start to criticize Euro-Centrism in “Western academia”. They declared themselves to be representatives of a “Third World” which they have left long ago and whose reality they have little knowledge of. Lei criticizes that for them “Third World” only is a useful tool, even ”academic capital” they can exploit to gain status. They have embedded themselves firmly in “Western academia” which they themselves criticize in their theoretic works.

    Do some extent I agree with him that some of these theorists have attained a star-status in Western academia and actually have little in common with the societies they supposedly represent. Only when these Post-colonial intellectuals more or less play along the rules of the game they criticize with their theories do they reach an audience and gain a critical mass of academic prowess. While this makes them vulnerable for criticism that it itself does not completely discredit their arguments. It is not so much a lack of legitimacy but this actually brings us back to the original problem: Intellectuals of Non-Western countries tend to be marginalized. But this is also true of Western intellectuals of Non-English speaking countries (Russia, France, Germany, Italy, etc.) as long as they don’t publish in English and sustain close academic ties with the academic capitals in the Anglo-American world.

    Lei Yi’s criticism of Post Modern and Post-Colonial theorists as being essentially nationalists 

    Lei criticizes proponents of Chinese-style Post-colonial theory for indiscriminately targeting others with harsh language and labeling others to be “post-colonized” for making references to Western art or literature, such as a young nationalist scholar who branded Yang Jiang “post-colonized” for comparing a Chinese girl with Mona Lisa. Since said scholar himself compared fervent young Chinese to the adolescent in Salinger’s novel “Catcher of the Rye”, this form of branding others is not helpful. Lei points out that already in Zhang Zhidong’s time it was not possible anymore to completely avoid foreign influenced terms since Western terms by way of Japanese translation already were deeply engrained in the Chinese language.

    Lei has a valid point here: “Post-Colonialized” can easily be used as a label to criticize others. A Chinese scholar’s reference to Western notions or his use of Western terms should not be the grounds to brand him. In so doing we would deprive him of his words. A very effective way of keeping someone’s mouth shut, but not something anybody should accept in academia, whether in China or elsewhere.

    Application of Postmodern and Postcolonial thought in China

    Lei argues that Chinese intellectuals who accepted post-modern and post-colonial theories have done so without duly processing them, without fully understanding their meaning and the context in which they emerged. These ideas underwent a “horizontal transformation” from Europe to China, something he calls a “dual dislocation” in time and space.

    The adaption of these theories in China often disregards their original intentions and leads to “self-contradictions”. Postmodern intellectuals identified power relations and supported “weak groups” – women, ethnic and social minorities –  “vis-à-vis” the strong. In the same way, Post-Colonial thinkers criticize Euro-centrism in science which tends to overlook valuable input from intellectuals from other world regions.

    But in China criticism of the Western dominated discourse concentrates on the criticism of enlightenment. They strongly question whether the value of “universal humanity” or “universal human rights” actually exist, or whether this was just another tool for “Western cultural imperialists” to subdue China. Post-Modern arguments are used – if not outright abused – to justify the exact opposite of what Post-Modern intellectuals tried to stand for. They favor the (politically controlled) mainstream and tend to overtone “noise” (i.e. differing or even dissenting views).

    Lei argues that for Chinese intellectuals like Lin Zexu, Chen Duxiu, Lu Xun, etc. the Western model was not necessarily something to be implemented directly, but they rather reacted to internal needs of China and chose applicable elements of it. “Post-Modern and Post-Colonial theory” can only become something useful for China, when they are processed and adapted to the Chinese local context, the actual social conditions.

    Lei knows how to walk the thin line. On one hand, in China’s current “maintain social stability environment” (维稳weiwen), Post-Colonial theory is still applied to support the Nationalist paradigm, to support China against the West. But since the balance of power is gradually shifting towards China, the validity of this argument can be doubted. The analysis of power relations within China by applying Post-Modern thought on the other hand can bring unwanted results and might better be avoided.

    June 10, 2012

  • Lei Yi: Interpretation of “Post-modern Theory” and “Post-colonial Theory” in the Context of China’s Modernity


    Interpretation of „Post-modern Theory“ and „Post-colonial Theory“ in the Context of China’s „Modernity“

    by Prof. Dr. LEI Yi 雷颐
    Professor, Institute for Modern Chinese History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences


    一, “后现代”与“后殖民”
    1. „Post-modern“ (后现代 hòu xiàndài) and „Postcolonial“ (后殖民 hòu zhímín)

    “后殖民理论”以美国哥伦比亚大学阿拉伯裔教授爱德华.赛义德(Edward W.Said)的 巨著《东方主义》为代表, 所谓“后殖民”是指西方帝国主义在非西方地区殖民统治 结束后的状况。
    In his monumental work „Orientalism“ (东方主义 dōngfāng zhǔyì) Edward. W. Said, Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, introduces a „post-colonial theory“ (后殖民理论 hòu zhímín lǐlùn), in which there still is a status of „Western imperialism“ (西方帝国主义 xīfāng dìguó zhǔyì) in non-Western regions after the end of colonial rule.

    这些地区虽然在国家主权上已经独立,但在经济、文化上的“殖民”并未结束,殖民势 力尤其借助于其精心建立起来的“文化霸权”或“文化帝国主义”来维系其利益。 Although these areas became independent in terms of national sovereignty (国家主权 guójiā zhǔquán), in the economic and cultural sense the „colonial“ status still prevails. The former colonial powers can maintain their interests, especially through the means of their well-established „cultural hegemony“ (文化霸权 wénhuà bàquán) or „cultural imperialism“ (文化帝国主义 wénhuà dìguó zhǔyì).

    赛义德率先指出西方世界长期以来是如何带有偏见地凝视东方,如何以科学、学术研究 之名发展出一整套关于“东方”的权力话语(discourse)。他认为西方学者在研究“东 方”时,将自己置于“主体”, 而将“东方”作为“他者”(Other)。
    Said was the first to point out how the Western world has long been holding a biased and fixed view towards the East. He also points out that in the name of science and academic research a whole power discourse (权力话语 quánlì huàyǔ) about the „Orient“ / the „East“ (东方 dōngfāng) was developed. He believes that whenever Western scholars study the „East“ they put themselves in the position of the „main subject“ (主体 zhǔtǐ) but treat the „East“ as „the Other“ (他者 tāzhě).

    其学术研究虽然看起来十分客观, 实际却有意无意地以自己的文化来曲解“东方”,反 映了西方在客观世界、政治和社会生活、文学作品中对东方所持的根深蒂固的偏见。 Although their academic research appears to be fairly objective, they – intentionally or unintentionally – misinterpret the „East“ through the lenses of their own culture. This would reflect a deep-rooted Western prejudice (偏见 piānjiàn) towards the „East“ which prevails in the objective world, in political and social life, and in literary works.

    以此为先锋,西方学术界出现了由常住西方、基本上是在西方大学任教的非白人、多数 是来自第三世界的学者对西方理论、学术中的欧洲中心论倾向和西方文化霸权进行的挑 战和批判。Said was a pioneer in this research. Voices of scholars appeared in Western academia that challenge and criticize Western theories, Eurocentric (欧洲中心论 Ōuzhōu zhōngxīn lùn) tendencies and “Western cultural hegemony” in sciences. These scholars are permanent residents in Western countries, are basically of Non-Caucasian/Non-white (非白人 fēi báirén) descent and maintain teaching positions in Western universities. The better part of them is from Third World countries.

  • #17 event report: Egyptian Islamists’ Foreign Policy towards China

    May 23, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. WANG Suolao 王锁劳, Peking University, School of International Studies


    Being fluent in both English and Arabic Professor Wang held a very up to date and informative talk with interesting anecdotes from his personal experiences and research on Egyptian Islamists foreign policy towards China. He started off with embedding his main argument in latest analysis on the upcoming Egyptian Presidential elections. He presented the the candidates on the ballot with emphasis on the 6 candidates with high chances. The biggest trade-off therein is that experienced candidates have the disadvantage of being linked to the former regime whilst genuinely new candidates, many of them representing Islamic political groupings, do not have experience in running the country. Prof. Wang sees the rise of Islamic political groupings as a general trend in the region and of the Arab Spring. “North Africa is becoming green again”.

    This can be seen as a factor of uncertainty for the Chinese leadership as it has no experience in conducting politics or business with the new potential Islamic leaders. Prof. Wang then went on to distinguish the two main groups of Islamic political groupings, notably the Muslim Brotherhood and the even more conservative Salafists, presenting their background, organizational structure, etc. In terms of foreign policy both groups plan to focus on the “Three Rings” of countries with African, Arab and Islamic background, reduce the dependence on the US and to hold a referendum on the future of the domestically disputed Egyptian-Israeli Peace Accord (1979). Both groups have almost similar foreign policy schemes, with the Salafists entertaining a special focus on the Nile river basin countries.

    Notably the Muslim Brotherhood has great interest in good relations with China. They show interest in learning from Chinas experiences in rapid development and in diversifying African development dependence on Western countries. Trade is certainly a central motive as well. Reviving the Egyptian tourist industry after the Revolution by attracting Chinese tourists to Egypt to make up of for the losses in Western tourists who avoided the country after the tumultuous change of power in early 2011 is another. China and Egypt, both civilizations with very long histories, share dissatisfaction about US-American “hegemony”. However, different views in the area of human rights may cause tensions between the potential new Egyptian leadership and the PRC. Especially the natural sympathies young Egyptians have for the repressed Uighur minority that are fellow Muslim “brothers” may prove to be a stumbling bloc for the good ties of Egypt with China.


    The QnA round was vivid with questions such as establishing a democratic system with an Islamic leadership and Chinese interests in Egypt. Prof. Wang considers that chances are high that Egypt can be a case of reconciling a democratic political system with Islamic values, similar to the Turkish model. After all, the success of Islamists will boil down to bread and butter issues. If an Islamic Egyptian government cannot deliver an appropriate level of economic success and welfare for Egyptians, they might soon be outvoted of power. Socialist Revolution of Nasser and the now defunct Capitalist approach of Mubarak are examples. The high birthrate of Egypt that is relatively higher than the growth in GDP results in unemployment among young people, the driving force for the Arab Spring. This is the most volatile group that the new President of Egypt needs to accommodate.

    Prof. Wang managed to engage well in the discussion by clearly answering the questions put forward with references to his recent research interviews in Egypt.

  • #16 event report: Sino-Japanese Relations in a Changing East-Asian Order


    April 24, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. GUI Yongtao 归泳涛, Associate Professor, School of International Studies, Peking University


    Sino-Japanese relations have a long history. It is certainly a difficult relationship, mostly due to the Second World War. Whereas this surely still plays a role in explaining the mutual attitudes of Chinese and Japanese people and governments, Prof. Gui’s core message was that Sino-Japanese relations have undergone tremendous change due to the rise of China in world politics, especially the speed thereof. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, scholars and commentators first predicted the ‘collapse of China’ as part of the communist world. With the increasing economic and political importance of China, this prediction changed into a ‘China threat theory’. However, not just the US but also Japan felt a need to constructively engage with China, not least because China is now the biggest trading partner of Japan. This has led to a period of ‘strategic opportunity’ for China, especially in the 2000s.

    Nevertheless, Prof. Gui explained that Japan is still uneasy about China’s increasing role in the world. International relations commentators, such as Robert D. Kaplan, predict a resistance of Chinese influence in East Asia, for instance by deepening relations with countries such as India or Vietnam. The reasons are mainly to be found in the mutual mistrust of the two states, notably at three levels: public opinion, domestic politics, and strategic environment. The latter is closely related to US-American relations with Japan and the role of the US in the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to public opinion, Prof. Gui presented surprising results, such as that the Chinese view of Japan is actually more positive than vice-versa. Also the view of China in Japan was quite positive in the 80s and 90s and has only seen a sharp decline since 2003, mainly in connection with a debate about China taking over Japan’s place as ‘No. 1 in Asia’.


    Still, the QnA after the speech focused on the critical public opinion in China about Japan and how to solve the resulting tensions. The length of the event, notably the QnA, underlines the vivid interest of the public in Sino-Japanese relations. We had to cut the QnA short with still many questions unanswered, since we had already used over 90 min of time.

    Participants continued the debate during a very successful after-party at EATalia, where also a lot of new faces – people we had invited before the start of the speech – accompanied us.

  • #15 event report: The Rise of Religion in China

    March 27, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. LU Yunfeng 卢云峰, Peking University, Department of Sociology


    Prof. Lu’s core message was that China is not such a secular country as commonly assumed. The absolute numbers of followers of the main world religions are very impressive and in numbers (not in percentage of the population) exceed those of many other countries in parts of the world. He shortly presented the five officially recognized religions in China (Confucianism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam), with “Folk religion” being an extra category. He presented data to show that the share of atheist in the population decreased from over 90% 3 decades ago to about 75%, which is a clear sign of increasing need for spirituality in China. Particularly Protestant Christianity has been on the rise in China in recent decades. Apart from the well-known religions, Prof. Lu presented hard data on the general extent of spirituality among Chinese people, specifically worshiping ancestors.


    After a succinct speech there was ample time for questions, answers and debate. The audience showed a particular interest in the causes for the emergence of a more religious China. Professor Lu drew some parallels to the rise of religion in Taiwan and South Korea. He presented quantitative research for these countries – both used to be restrictive environments for religious activities and now are comparably liberal – that indicates a positive correlation between and “pro-societal behaviour”. Moreover, he gave interesting insights on the relationship between religion and social change in China. In China, religion is not only increasingly popular among old people, particularly women, or the uneducated. Urban dwellers also become members of religious group. Young people for example are particularly prone to religiosity as many of them are migrant workers, living far away from home in a completely new environment and therefore longing for faith, stability, and a community.

    The audience thanked Professor Lu with a warm applause and the ThinkIn China team proudly gave him one of the brand new ThinkIN China T-Shirts as a gift.


  • #14 event report: China and the Global Governance

    February 21, 2012, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. PANG Zhongying 庞中英, Renmin University, Centre on the New Global Governance


    On 21st February 2012—the Chinese Dragon year, the first lecture of the ThinkIN China was given by Professor Pang Zhongying, the professor at the School of International Studies of Renmin University, as well as the director of the Center for the Study of Global Governance, on the topic of China’s role in the global governance.

    First of all, Professor Pang has pointed out the different understandings of the concepts of governance and government between Chinese and Westerners. The Western idea of governance is resisted by Chinese students, who always confuse about the difference of governance and government which is embraced in the West. For Chinese, they are the same. Consequently, the global governance popular in the Chinese academia is quite distinctive.

    Then the professor talked about the issue of power in the global governance. The existing international governance is not so called “the global government”, but is governed by a group of big powers, such as US, Europe and some emerging countries, like China. The hegemony of US had been prevailing over the world before, such as the establishment of IMF and its super power in the global economy. But nowadays more and more players are participating in the global governance, which doesn’t mean more chaos or more disorders for Chinese and China should adapt its foreign policy adhering to the global governance.

    Viewed from Chairman Mao’s “no diplomacy” as a weak country to Deng Xiaoping’s “Tao Guang Yang Hui” (such as non-interference, not-allying with others militarily, not-taking the lead), China’s diplomacy has been transformed dramatically. In the near past, China was just a participant in the global governance; but until now China’s role has been redefined by US as a stakeholder. China is quite willing to integrate into the world and active in grasping and sharing the leadership of the global governance with US, Europe and other big powers. Professor Pang came up with a very interesting question of the future role of China playing in the world, a reformist or revisionist or even a leader.

    However, given the failure of Chinese performance in the world, such as the failure of the Chinese overseas investment, China has to play by rules which has been set by the West and taken advantage of by the rule-makers to govern the other countries, for example, China. At present, China is at a disadvantage in the global governance. So China is striving to influence and make the rules that can govern the world. During the interaction between China and the western powers, some principles and rules China strictly complies with have already been changed, such as the non-intervention principle. China has no intervention tradition and limited related histories, so this principle has been respected by China from the outset. But it has been altered by some exceptions. And it give rise to an open question: is China an emerging intervention force or not.

    From Professor Pang’s view, China is learning from the other countries’ experiences of the global governance and trying hard to build its advantage in the global governance.


    At last, it is the Q&A session. Professor Pang’s speech has spurred hot debates among the audience and lecturer on the future role of China in the global governance and the contribution to the world.

    (Report by JIANG Wei)

  • #13 event report: The New Security Dynamic in Asia-Pacific: A Chinese Perspective

    The New Security Dynamic in Asia-Pacific: A Chinese Perspective

    December 13, 2011, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. ZHU Feng 朱锋, Peking University, Center for International and Strategic Studies


    On 13th December 2011, the ThinkIN China invited Professor Zhu Feng to give the community a lecture on the topic of the current security dilemma that China has to face in Asia-Pacific region, especially when US’s return is increasingly manifested, from his perspective as a Chinese scholar and policy advisor. Professor Zhu is the professor at the school of International Studies of Peking University, as well as the deputy director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies (CISS), researching in regional security in East Asia, the nuclear issue in North Korea, American national security strategy, China-US relations and missile defense.

    Viewing through the current issues over the world, Professor Zhu picked out a quite hot headline “America’s return to Asia” or “America’s Pacific Century” which was borrowed from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s t paper published in Foreign Policy magazine the other days this year.

    What are the sources of dynamics for the outright shift of American foreign policy focus from Middle East to Asia, taking China so seriously? Professor Zhu talked a lot on it, listing 3 sources as follows:

    1st source should be the heavy pressure from Obama’s re-election and those hawkish diplomatic officials in the government, urgently insisting on the hard-lined policy towards China, regarding to its growing arrogance and assertiveness.

    2nd source should be the lesson learned from the previous shrinking from and overlooking Asia that push America’s real coming.

    3rd source should be misperceptions aroused by some sort of Chinese diplomatic practice— Chinese Misconduct, such as the unwillingness to condemn NK, which actually has twisted the focal point of Chinese foreign policy.

    All these sources have resulted in a security dilemma for China within Asia-Pacific region. But Chinese are born pragmatic, and the Chinese diplomacy essential principles—ultra-pragmatism and flexibility—are prevailing over China. So Professor Zhu thought highly of the low-profile China diplomatic policy.


    The last session of the lecture was followed by a fierce debate among the audience and speaker. Someone asked about the Chinese policy adjustment responding to American return to Asia and China’s policy shift towards the international intervention dealing with the global issues. Professor Zhu thoughtfully gave his own idea and policy advice, that is, China foreign policy should be displayed smartly, although there is domestic public pressure, because people think the government’s foreign policy too soft towards a lot of key issues, such as South China Sea issue. China has not the intention to coerce Vietnam, of course, Americans knew it. So don’t provoke the disturbance and misconception between the neighbors and big powers. About the International intervention, according to the policy shifts coping with the support of the government of Moammar Gadhafii, then the joining the West camp, at last the recognition of the new government in Libya. It can be seen from the case that China foreign policy towards non-intervention has been displaying more subtle and flexible, although Beijing has to concern about the inner issues (for example Tibet and Taiwan) and the public motions.

    And some people were more concerned with whose responsibility with regard to South China Sea issue. Professor Zhu attached more responsibility to China because of the coercive policy shift to the neighboring countries who have been actively taking advantage of the US to leverage China in this area. At the end, he pointed out the reconciliation was the win-win way for all the parties.

    (Report by JIANG Wei)

  • #12 event report: The Contemporary Social, Political and Economic System in China

    The contemporary social, political &economic system in China

    November 29, 2011, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. PAN Wei 潘维, Peking University, School of International Studies, Center for Chinese & Global Affairs


    On November 29th 2011, Professor Pan Wei, director of the Center for Chinese & Global Affairs in Peking University, gave the ThinkIN China community a lecture on the topic of China Model in terms of social, political and economic systems in contemporary China. Professor Pan studied in UC Berkeley for his Phd in Political Science. He lived in the USA for many years and then returned to China for teaching; he is quite well-known for explaining the substance of China Model in a peculiar perspective.

    In the beginning of the lecture, Professor Pan described a general picture of many scholars criticizing China Model and the hot debate inside China. There are three kinds of views opposing the idea of China Model. First, determinists argue that the Chinese story is essentially an economic one—a market economy managed by an authoritarian regime. Meanwhile cynics quote as the evidence of system failure the multifarious problems that are attributed to the achievements in China today, such as the widespread corruption, increasing gap between the rich and poor, etc. They believe the communist party has changed its identity from left -to a large extent, equaling to close to the common people-to hierarchy, becoming incapable of solving the little things concerning justice among the common people. The third opposing view derives from the skeptics, according to this view many more institutional reforms are needed to solve such enormous problems mentioned above in spite of those outstanding achievements acquired by PRC. In short, the debate on China Model focuses on the institutional settings, the Chinese socio-political-economic system.

    Professor Pan pointed out the significance of the traditional Chinese civilization and its system, he defines it as the most materialistic and least spiritual traditional civilization that brought to a unique and sophisticated institutional setting—the contemporary Chinese system or China Model, which fits Chinese needs and has grown out of Chinese history. China Model will shed light on the future of China, even the globe.

    What is the Chinese system or China Model? Professor Pan classified it into three dimensions socially, politically and economically. The way of organizing economic life has something to do with the way of organizing politics, which in turn is based on the way of organizing society.

    The social order includes four elements: the basic social units—family; the principles of social ethics—the traditional family ethics (responsibilities); the forms of social organization—community and work units (danwei); and the relationship between social organizations and the government—an intertwined and cubic network. “Sheji” is the name for the above way of organizing society. It originally referred to the temples where the common people and officials coexist in harmony. This sheji gives rise to a way of organizing politics.

    The political order has four pillars: political ideas on people-government relationship—Minben-ism, which is derived from the family ethic and take the government as the organ for the welfare of all the people; methods of selecting government officials—the traditional meritocratic principle (selecting officials through exams and performance evaluation), not the majoritarian principle of election; key administrative organs—the CPC, a vanguard party, politically unified governing group emphasizing responsibility; and mechanisms for preventing and correcting administrative mistakes—division of labor, not the Western checks and balances or division of powers. “Minben” is the name for the above way of organizing politics. This Minben has given rise to a way of organizing the Chinese economy.

    The economic order contains four factors: priced labor, priced production materials (land), enterprises and capital. The above way of organizing economic life shows both the features of capitalism and socialism; the state sector can be called “guo”, while the non-state sector can be called “min” and they are mutually supportive. Accordingly, “Guomin” is the name for the economic order.

    The Chinese system is constituted by the above-mentioned three aspects. But it also has the life cycles of rise and collapse. China model challenges the Western knowledge: Sheji versus civil society-state dichotomy, Minben versus democracy-autocracy dichotomy, Guomin versus market-state intervention dichotomy.

    Professor Pan thinks China Model or the Chinese system can sustain successfully throughout the 21st century, because it has sustained for over 2000 years in history.


    Professor Pan’s speech has spurred hot debates among the audience and lecturer on the difference between China Model and other models, the possibility of China Model’s application and promotion, as well as the feasibility of China Model in reality and its mistakes in the theory premise. Regarding to these questions, Professor gave his own ideas, such as the Chinese culture’s learning attribute, not missionary one like the Western culture, makes China Model unique to the outside world.

    (Report by JIANG Wei)

  • #10 event report: China, Europe & the Libyan War

    China, Europe & the Libyan War

    September 21, 2011, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

    Speaker: Dr. HUANG Jing 黄靖, Researcher, Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)


    Jane Huang, a researcher at Institute of European Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), addressed the ThinkIN China community on the topic of the Libyan war and its impact on China and Europe, especially from the Chinese perspective.

    At the start of her speech, Jane came up with quite an interesting question “How did Chinese respond to the Libyan war”, and then she made a sharp comparison between Chinese media and public opinions on the Libyan war. From her research, she showed us Chinese media largely focused on the economic and geopolitical impacts of this war on China, such as the oil investment losses and diplomatic relationship between China and other countries taking part in this war, but almost not at all something normative, for example, the human rights and democracy. On the contrary, the research told us that most Chinese people were angry about this war, condemning the injustice that UN and NATO have done to Libya as well as its civilian, and always being emotional while talking about this war, such as General Zhang Zhao-Zhong, a well-known military theorist and critic in China, indignantly blamed the involved countries for the violation of Libyan sovereignty.

    What a total difference among Chinese media and public responses to this war! But some consensus still existed. At the mass level, all the people praised the organized evacuation by the central government and took pride in the increasing sense of citizens’ safety shared by the party and government, as well as to worry about the huge overseas investment losses resulted from the war and the following downfall of the government of Moammar Gadhafi. At the academic level, the neo-left and neo-right fell into the irreconcilable debate on this war. Up to the policy makers’ level, protecting the national interest was the common ground. So the Chinese diplomacy essential principles—ultra-pragmatism and flexibility—are prevailing over China.

    What about the Chinese responses to the Europe, regarding to its performance and intervention in this war? In Chinese eyes, the real players in this battleground were the US and NATO, and the collapse of the government of Gaddafi freed the Europe out from the heavy burden in terms of time, energy, money, resources and reputation. To Chinese, they viewed the Libyan victory as just the luck of the Europe who was over-idealistic and unrealistic.

    Is it a golden opportunity for China or Europe to cooperate with North Africa? Jane Huang gave us her own idea: there is one country that possesses the human and engineering resources to step in and do the necessary work that the oil-rich and labor-poor nation—Libya— is unable or unwilling to perform itself, which is definitely China; However, Europe is still embracing a lot of concerns at home and abroad, such as the debt crises taking place in Greece and Ireland, running risks to expand into Spain, Italy, as well as the increasingly widening mutual trust gap between the Europe and US. For Jane, it is obvious that China is on the road to succeeding the trust and cooperation of North Africa.


    At last, it was time for Q&A session. Jane Huang’s vivid talk aroused the audience’s interest in the abstention of China from voting on no-fly zone while the United Nations Security Council was making such resolution punishing Gaddafi and its government and the future of African Union’s role in solving the African affairs. Chinese and foreign students were actively participating in the ensuing discussion and sharing their distinctive opinions.

    (Report by JIANG Wei)