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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?

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.

China and the WHO: “Global Health is an issue of international cooperation”

May 18, 2020

The World Health Organization is an indispensable institution in the fight against pandemics. In dealing with the ongoing COVID 19 crisis the WHO and its director general Tedros Adhanom have provided and disseminated important and critical information for dealing with the virus, but were also criticized – not least by US president Donald Trump – for acting to slowly in the early stage of the crisis and being too close to China.

MERICS Senior Policy Fellow Hanns Maull and Junior Analyst Thomas des Garets Geddes look at the relationship of the WHO and China, how it has affected the response to COVID-19 and how Taiwan complicates this picture even further.  

Matt Ferchen: "In many developing countries, China is the only option available"

March 24, 2020

China’s engagement as a development actor is seen as controversial, especially in the West. While the Chinese leadership portrays development as a solution to almost all problems both domestic and foreign, some Western observers see China as a bad actor in developing nations.

How does the Chinese concept of development differ from ideas in the West? What are the aims of it and what are – often unintended – outcomes? And what can recipient nations do to shape Chinese engagement in a way that really profits their country?

MERICS expert and Head of Global China Research Matt Ferchen joined us in the studio to discuss these and other questions. In his view, Europe can play a bigger role in offering sustainable development options as an alternative to China.

Noah Barkin on the implications of the US-China tech war for Europe

February 25, 2020

Europe is increasingly being put in a tight spot between its biggest trading partners China and the US. Especially in view of the upcoming 5G network expansion, the latter has put pressure on the EU and European countries to exclude the Chinese tech-company Huawei from European networks. China, on the other hand, has hinted at economic consequences should Chinese companies be banned.

While this dispute remains unresolved, new conflicts are already on the horizon as the US gears up to sanction the export of sensitive technological equipment to China. The MERICS experts podcast looks at how the US puts pressure on the EU, what areas are affected, and what options the EU has in balancing the demands of China and the US?

These and other questions are tackled by Noah Barkin, journalist and former Visiting Academic Fellow at MERICS. In his view, the EU and European member states should take a careful look at countries already engaged in the difficult act of balancing both superpowers. The conversation was led by Johannes Heller, Communications Manager at MERICS.

Victor Shih on the Coronavirus Crisis

February 19, 2020

“It’s all about confidence: If people lose confidence you will have defection where regime insiders stop helping the regime.”

Victor Shih

Since several weeks, China is struggling with a severe coronavirus outbreak. China’s regime and its leader Xi Jinping are facing huge criticism in handling the crisis – both internally and internationally. Given this situation, questions arise on how an authoritarian state deals with such a crisis. Can China control an epidemic from the top down? What are the political and economic impacts? Where are potential pathways to instability? And what are currently the most important factors for stability in China? Which measures has the CCP taken so far and do they demonstrate strength or weakness of the system? How much time is left if it doesn’t want to fall from power? And what is at stake for Xi Jinping?

In this episode of our MERICS Experts podcast, Victor Shih, one of the leading experts for elite politics in China, Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego, and editor of the recently published book “Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability”, discusses these and other questions at stake with Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich, Director of Communications at MERICS.

Pradeep Taneja: "We need more information sharing on activities in the Indian Ocean"

February 17, 2020

China is increasingly active in the Indian Ocean – be it through trade, port calls or research activities. This development is watched closely by the countries in the region and beyond. How do these states respond to this shift? How does this activity impact China’s relationship to India? And should it concern the European Union?

To answer these and more questions I was joined by Pradeep Taneja, former visiting academic fellow at MERICS and fellow of the Australia India Institute and an Associate of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, both at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

The conversation was led by Johannes Heller, communications manager at MERICS.

Shen Dingli and Jagannath Panda on China-India relations

January 27, 2020

The relationship between India and China is traditionally fraught with difficulty. But tensions seem to have relaxed after a low point in 2017, when Chinese and Indian forces faced each other in a border standoff. Since then, China’s President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi have met twice for informal meetings. In 2020, both countries celebrate 70 years of official diplomatic relations.

In our latest podcast Dr. Jagannath Panda, Research Fellow and Centre Coordinator for East Asia at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in New Delhi, and Professor Shen Dingli, former Executive Dean at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University and Vice President of the Chinese Association of South Asia Studies, discuss the current and past relationship between China and India and look at opportunities and challenges in the coming years. Johannes Heller, Communication Manager at MERICS, asked the questions.

This podcast was recorded on the sidelines of the MERICS China-India Conference titled: “India-China Dynamics: Reappraising the significance for Europe”.

Bertram Lang on International Civil Society Organizations and China


What are the implications of China’s growing global influence for the future work of International Civil Society Organizations (ICSOs)? How can organizations – such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the Children or Transparency International – deal with China, Chinese partners and the Chinese Communist Party?

In this episode of our MERICS Experts podcast, Bertram Lang, author of the recently released “Sector Guide” on China that was written on behalf of the International Civil Society Centre, is discussing these and other aspects of ICSOs and their relationship to China with Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich, Director of Communications at MERICS.

MERICS Lunch Talk on the future of Hong Kong

December 20, 2019

With no end in sight to nearly seven months of political tension, Hong Kong’s role as a financial hub crucial for the prosperity of China’s economy is being put to the test. The special administrative region’s economy has suffered as travelers avoid the city and locals cut back on retail spending. Yet the financial sector appears to remain relatively unaffected. But the protests have led to a stricter political environment. Economic liberties that once gave the city its special standing are increasingly at risk of being undermined.  

Listen to a panel discussion recorded just after the Hong Kong District Council elections with Hong Kong Legislative Councilor Hon. Charles Mok, Hong Kong based economist Alicia Garcia-Herrero, MERICS expert Max J. Zenglein and MERICS CEO Frank N. Pieke. The event was moderated by Claudia Wessling, head of publications at MERICS.

China as a major actor in climate policy – Preview

December 12, 2019

The international community is currently holding its 25th Conference of Parties in Madrid to negotiate climate protection targets and measures. As the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China is a major player in the discussions on how to achieve effective action for climate protection. One day before the China Renewable Energy Outlook 2019 was presented in Madrid on December 12, China’s role in climate policy was the topic at a MERICS Lunch talk.

The panel included Carolin Schenuit (Team Leader for System and Market Integration of Renewable Energies at the German Energy Agency, dena) and Lars Møllenbach Bregnbæk, partner at Ea Energy Analyses (Ea). Both were also involved in drafting the outlook together with the Chinese think tank China National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC). Nis Grünberg, analyst at MERICS and an expert on state-owned-enterprise reform in the energy sector, completed the panel. They discussed the challenges faced by China in its energy transition and ways in which China can meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

The discussion was prefaced by a presentation of the China Renewable Energy Outlook 2019 by Carolin Schenuit. Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich, Director of Communications at MERICS, moderated the event. Listen to an edited version of the discussion in the MERICS experts podcast

Rui Ma on China’s fast-changing internet industry

November 22, 2019

China leads the world in the number of unicorn startups, many of which are e-commerce and other Internet-based businesses. New e-commerce platforms are emerging alongside established players, such as Pinduoduo, the group buying platform that trails only Alibaba in number of users and has become one of China’s five most valuable Internet companies. TikTok owner Bytedance recently revised its revenue target for 2019 to 120 billion RMB, from an earlier goal set late last year of 100 billion. At the same time, the US-China trade dispute is putting relations between China and Silicon Valley under strain.

Angel investor and entrepreneur Rui Ma shared her insights into the fast-changing ecosystem of China’s Internet at a MERICS Lunch Talk in November. She talked about the companies to watch, the biggest trends, including the rise of rural users and live e-commerce, among other topics with MERICS experts Kristin Shi-Kupfer and Rebecca Arcesati.

Listen to an edited version of the discussion in the MERICS experts podcast.