MERICS Press releases, China Flash header


Essen, May 24th 2018 – From this summer, the successful work of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) will continue under joint leadership. Research Director and CEO Frank Pieke and Deputy Director Mikko Huotari will take over together with the Chief Financial Officer Bettina Bubnys at the helm of the think tank from 1 August, as announced by Stiftung Mercator and MERICS today. The leadership duo will aim to reinforce the institute’s international reputation over the next few years, expand the network of partner organizations and embark on new cooperative ventures. 

Frank N. Pieke (left), Bettina Bubnys and Mikko Huotari. Image by Joanna Scheffel, copyright: Stiftung Mercator

Following an intensive selection and consultation process, a selection committee headed by Caio Koch-Weser recommended leadership candidates to Stiftung Mercator. “With Frank Pieke and Mikko Huotari, we picked two directors who will enable both advancement and continuity. Frank Pieke is an internationally renowned academic who combines expertise with international experience. In appointing Mikko Huotari as deputy director, we are opting for invaluable experience and continuity, as he has so far done some outstanding work at MERICS”, says Stiftung Mercator Executive Director Michael Schwarz. ”Under the new leadership, MERICS shall continue its  outstanding and independent academic research and build upon its position as  one of the world’s most renowned think tanks in the field of research on today’s China”, adds Schwarz.

Frank Pieke is currently professor of contemporary Chinese studies at Leiden University and executive director of the Leiden Asia Centre. Trained at the University of Amsterdam, Beijing University and the University of California Berkeley, Pieke taught for many years first at Leiden University and subsequently at the University of Oxford. He returned to Leiden in 2010. His fields of research include cultural anthropology, the role of the Communist Party in the rapid rise of China, and migration and cultural diversity in China. As research director at MERICS, he is keen to raise the institute’s European profile.

Mikko Huotari runs the Foreign Relations programme at MERICS. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy, Chinese-European relations and the regional order in Asia. He has published extensively on China’s global investment strategy and economic relations with Europe. Before joining MERICS, Huotari taught at the Department of International Politics at the University of Freiburg. 

The current President of MERICS, Professor Sebastian Heilmann, will be stepping down for personal reasons with effect from 1 September 2018 and returning to his chair at Trier University, though he will also maintain close ties with MERICS. “Within just a few years, Professor Heilmann turned MERICS into one of the world’s leading think tanks on contemporary China. Stiftung Mercator is extremely grateful and obliged to him for his outstanding achievements as the founding director of MERICS”, says Michael Schwarz.

Bettina Bubnys will continue to serve as the Chief Financial Officer of MERICS.

Based in Berlin, the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) is one of the world’s largest institutes of contemporary and practical research into China. Stiftung Mercator founded MERICS in 2013 and has so far provided around 33 million euros to fund the institute’s work. MERICS analyzes the political, economic, social, technological and ecological developments in China, and the corresponding global impacts. It also plays an active role in the public debate on China and in shaping Germany’s relations to the PRC by providing new points of view and suggestions for decision-makers.

Stiftung Mercator is a private and independent foundation. Through its work it strives for a society characterized by openness to the world, solidarity and equal opportunities. In this context it concentrates on strengthening Europe; increasing the educational success of disadvantaged children and young people, especially those of migrant origin; driving forward climate change mitigation and promoting science and the humanities. Stiftung Mercator symbolizes the connection between academic expertise and practical project experience. One of Germany’s leading foundations, it is active both nationally and internationally. Stiftung Mercator feels a strong sense of loyalty to the Ruhr region, the home of the founding family and the foundation’s headquarters. A wide range of projects in the China Programme of the Stiftung Mercator is designed to result in deeper mutual understanding. Exchange programmes are intended to reduce misperceptions and prejudices.



If there are any questions please contact

Claudia Wessling
Director Communication
Tel.: +49 30 3440 999 13

Cathrin Sengpiehl
Press Communication Manager
Stiftung Mercator
Tel: +49 201 245 22-841