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MERICS researchers discuss and analyze developments and current affairs in China: What is behind the Belt and Road Initiative? What kind of leader is Xi Jinping? How should we assess China’s climate change policies? How does the Chinese government use social media to its own ends?

The podcasts are approximately 10 to 15 minutes long. In addition to MERICS’s own staff, other experts on China and guest speakers at MERICS also take part in the interviews.

Follow us on Soundcloud or iTunes to see which podcasts we are currently airing or click on the RSS feed here to subscribe to our channel.


Akio Takahara: “Xi Jinping is an action-oriented person“

December 15, 2017

At the 19th Communist Party Congress in October, Chinese president and party leader Xi Jinping proclaimed a “new era”. China was ready to become a global power and move to center stage, he said.  What lies behind such claims? Has China taken advantage of the global leadership vacuum left by US president Trump? “Xi Jinping is an action-oriented person”, but his foreign policy record is mixed, says Akio Takahara of Tokyo University. Listen to Akio Takahara as he talks about Xi Jinping, rivalries in the Asia Pacific and why China would not abandon North Korea. 

David Shambaugh and Willy Lam on the 19th Party Congress

October 19, 2017

The 19th Party Congress is a “Xi Jinping Show” and China’s political system, under Xi’s rule, has lost much of its flexibility. That’s the rather blunt assessment of David Shambaugh of George Washington University in Washington D.C. Shortly before the start of the 19th Party Congress, Shambaugh visited Berlin and discussed China under Xi Jinping with Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who was equally sober in his assessment of the state of the People’s Republic. The exchange between the two renowned China experts was jointly organized by the Robert Bosch Foundation and Merics and was moderated by Merics researcher Kristin Shi-Kupfer. You can listen to an edited version of the public event in our new Merics Experts podcast. 

Willy Lam: "Xi Jinping has benefitted from the leadership vacuum left by Trump“

October 17, 2017

The 19th Congress of the Communist Party kicks off in Beijing this week with the focus mainly on elite politics and personnel decisions in the top leadership. But the gathering of some 2300 delegates is also an opportunity to take stock of five years of Xi Jinping rule. Internationally, China plays a much more active and assertive role on the international stage.  “Xi Jinping has benefitted tremendously from the world leadership vacuum left by US President Donald Trump”, says Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. But, he warns, China’s power projection won’t go very far unless Beijing addresses its “soft power deficit” and starts to respect international rules and laws.

Shazeda Ahmed on China’s Social Credit System

September 28, 2017

In setting up the so called Social Credit System, China plans to monitor, rate and regulate the behavior of citizens and companies with the help of big data, rewarding those who obey the rules and punishing those who cheat or don’t conform. “Social Credit is seen as a means of making people, companies, entire industrial sectors and the government more honest by monitoring behaviors,” says Shazeda Ahmed, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, and former Visiting Academic Fellow at MERICS. The digital mechanism the system is based on will collect data on every single person in China by 2020. What motivates the government? What are the biggest challenges in setting up the system? And: how do people in China think about this system? Listen to our latest MERICS experts podcast.

Carsten Holz: Challenges of Chinese investment in Tibetan areas

August 2, 2017

The Chinese government spends millions to develop the Tibetan areas of China. But what can investment achieve in these remote regions? Can it create sustainable jobs and change people’s lives? The economist Carsten Holz of Hongkong University of Science and Technology has spent many months on the Tibetan plateau in Western Sichuan to study how Beijing’s policies affect local people’s lives. Roads have improved and access to education has increased, he says. But restrictions on travel, unequal pay and a heavy security presence fuel resentment. The central government hasn’t managed to buy the hearts and minds of the Tibetans. Listen to Holz’s observations in the new Merics Experts podcast.

Karsten Sach: "Climate policy needs to be at the heart of economic and fiscal policies“

July 14, 2017

The announcement by US President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a setback for international climate policy but “it will not derail the process,” says Karsten Sach, Germany’s top climate negotiator. At a conference in Berlin, jointly organized by MERICS, the European Climate Foundation and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) he called on the international community to place climate policy “at the heart of economic, development and fiscal policies” to reach the Paris target of limiting global warming to 2C. He talked to Björn Conrad, MERICS Vice President Research, about climate policy in the Trump era, China’s new attitude and new perspectives for cooperation.

Barbara Finamore on US climate policy: "Trump’s power isn’t as strong as you may think“

July 10, 2017

Despite US President Trump’s planned withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, many American citizens, city mayors and companies still want to move ahead with transitioning to a low carbon economy. „Trump’s power isn’t as strong as you may think,“ said Barbara Finamore, Asia Director of the American environmental organization Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) recently in Berlin. Still, Trump’s announcement has damaged America’s international standing, she said and called on China and Germany to now take leading roles in the fight against global warming. Finamore was talking to MERICS Communications Director Claudia Wessling at a conference jointly organized by MERICS, the European Climate Foundation and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).

Caio Koch-Weser: “The lack of commitment on the part of the US is a disgrace”

July 7, 2017

Caio Koch-Weser, chairman of the board of the European Climate Foundation (ECF), calls on the G20 to speed up the transition to a low-carbon economy – despite the announcement by US President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In his introductory remarks at a conference on Chinese-German cooperation in global climate policy, organized by MERICS, ECF and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) on June 30, he called for action to better price carbon, to adopt guidelines for a green financial system and to strengthen Chinese-German multi-stakeholder approaches in fighting climate change.

Isabel Hilton: "Civil society still has an enormous role to play in China"

May 30, 2017

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and independent journalists have played a vital role in raising awareness in China of the dangers of air pollution and other environmental challenges. Yet under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the climate for NGOs has become noticeably chillier, especially with the introduction of a new law earlier this year on overseas organizations. But “civil society still has an enormous role to play,” says Isabel Hilton, editor of China Dialogue, an environmental website that has offices in both London and Beijing. In the new MERICS Experts Podcast, she talks about the spaces for NGOs and the media in today’s China and how to navigate a tricky political environment.

China Dispute: Nationalism and the ideological battle for China’s future

February 28, 2017

China’s official media like to criticize “hostile foreign forces” and “Western values” that purportedly undermine the country. Western institutions are equally singled out for their “inefficiency” in dealing with problems and crises. But do these arguments resonate with the Chinese public? Is there rising anti-Western nationalism in China? Those questions were tackled by three eminent China experts, Susan Shirk, Orville Schell and David Bandurski, on February 22nd at the MERICS “China Dispute” in Berlin. Nationalism was a handy tool for the Chinese government to rally support, they said, but liberal voices had not disappeared – despite stringent controls and strict censorship. You can listen to an edited version of the debate, moderated by MERICS researcher Kristin Shi-Kupfer, in our latest Merics Experts Podcast.