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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.

Abdul Abiad on the US-China trade conflict and its impact on Asia

Growth prospects in developing Asia are dimming. Slowing activity in major advanced economies, the ongoing US-China trade conflict, and a sharp downturn in the global electronics cycle necessitate a reassessment of the region’s outlook. How much will Asia’s growth slow? How might the trade war evolve, and how is it affecting countries in the region? In this episode of our MERICS Experts podcast, Claudia Wessling, Head of Publications at MERICS, talks to Abdul Abiad, Director of the Macroeconomic Research Division of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila. Abiad was in Berlin to present the ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2019 Update.

Gregory Chin: “The AIIB is more than a China-only story“

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) provides financing for public and private infrastructure projects for Asia, but also beyond. When the AIIB was launched in January 2016 with 57 founding members, many observers argued that it will become a Chinese dominated bank instead of a multilateral one: For the first time a new multilateral development bank championed by China – with Beijing sitting at the center of the table, setting the agenda, defining the priorities, making the rules.

Almost five years later, the AIIB has progressed faster than many expected and counts 100 members already. In the latest episode of the MERICS experts podcast, Gregory Chin, a former Canadian diplomat and an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at York University (Canada), talks to Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich about the AIIB, potential new members, and China’s priorities.

MERICS China Dispute: 70th anniversary of PRC - Can the CCP deliver its "China Dream"?

October 1st, 2019

On September 26th, MERICS hosted a China Dispute on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. Leading experts from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Canada discussed if the CCP - after 70 years of rule and facing intensely challenging domestic and international environments - can deliver its “China Dream”, create a more just and equal society, and reestablish the social contract between the leadership and the people?

Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Director of Public Policy and Society at MERICS, moderated the debate featuring Sarah Eaton (Professor for Transregional China Studies in the Institute for Asian and African Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin) Christian Göbel (Professor of Modern China Studies at the University of Vienna), Andreas Møller Mulvad (Assistant Professor, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen and MERICS director Frank N. Pieke.

Before the panel discussion, Shi-Kupfer talked with MERICS research associate Nis Grünberg about the latest MERICS China Monitor on Party-state relations.

Listen to an edited version of the debate in the latest MERICS Experts Podcast!

Adnan Aamir: BRI in Pakistan

25 September 2019

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is often referred to as the flagship project of China' Belt and Road Initiative. However, five years into the project, “change has been nowhere near what was expected,” says Adnan Aamir, founder and editor of the Pakistani online newspaper Balochistan Voices. So far, the Pakistani chapter of the BRI neither solved the energy crisis nor did it create new industries, jobs or opportunities for Pakistani companies. Pakistan's new government, in office since August 2018, is now reviewing some of the far reaching BRI contracts. Claudia Wessling, Head of Publications at MERICS, talked to Adnan Aamir for the latest episode of our MERICS experts podcast.

Helena Legarda: “Military conflict about Taiwan is nobody’s preferred option at the moment”

August 6, 2019

For the first time in four years, China has released a major defense white paper. While much of its content is familiar from previous white papers, the line taken on the United States and Taiwan is markedly more aggressive, says MERICS analyst Helena Legarda, author of the China Global Security Tracker. In the latest MERICS Expert podcast she argues that the overall intention of this white paper is to signal to the outside world that China and its armed forces are responsible, engaged members of the international community.

Yuen Chan on Hong Kong protests and the role of the media

23 July 2019

Since more than seven weeks, people in Hong Kong have taken to the streets in opposition to an extradition law and the continuous loss of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The protesters demand an independent investigation into the use of police violence during earlier demonstrations. On July 21st, the situation escalated, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters following a large rally. For the first time, protests were not only directed at the Hong Kong government but also at Beijing.

Yuen Chan, currently teaching at the City University of London, worked for many years as a journalist, columnist and senior lecturer for journalism in Hong Kong. She talks with MERICS’ Director of Communication, Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich, about the bloody weekend in Hong Kong and the special role of the media. She argues, “I think, for journalists in Hong Kong it is really, really important that they get to frame the narrative, get to tell the Hong Kong story. Don’t let other people tell your story!”

Tom Bayes on Chinese presence in the African tech sector

9 July 2019

China’s engagement in Africa is often reduced to infrastructure and resources. But China is also massively increasing its presence in the African tech sector. Chinese state-owned enterprises and private companies are providing telecommunication lines and consumer electronics, but also surveillance technologies and digital solutions to enhance government control. “It is important that we have a nuanced understanding of what is going on both positive and negative dimensions,” argues China-Africa researcher and former MERICS Visiting Academic Fellow Tom Bayes in the latest episode of the MERICS Experts podcast.

„30 years after Tiananmen: Social movements are less likely in today’s China”

June 13, 2019

On June 3rd, MERICS and the Federal Agency of Civic Education (bpb) jointly organized a panel discussion on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Leading experts from Germany and the US discussed the legacy of June 4th and its consequences for China’s domestic development and civic engagement. The debate was moderated by Kristin Shi-KupferDirector of the Research Area on Public Policy and Society at MERICS.

Perry Link, Emeritus professor for East Asian Studies at Princeton University co-editor of “The Tiananmen Papers,” lived in Beijing at the time of the protests. For Link, the crackdown on protesters on June 4th marks a turning point in Chinese history: “The Communist leaders, seeing that their socialist ideology was now useless, looked elsewhere to bolster their regime and found that unbridled money-making, a narrow kind of nationalism, and meticulous repression of wayward thought were the answers. This toxic mixture has brought the nation to the brink of an abyss.”  

Felix Lee, longtime China correspondent for the German newspapers taz and Zeit-Online, says: “Prosperity in exchange for political freedom – this formula works worse and worse 30 years after Tiananmen. China could soon be facing a watershed again.” 

Professor Sandra Heep, an expert on China’s economy at Bremen University of Applied Sciences, argues that “China achieved immense economic success in the last thirty years. However, economic risks are rising with today’s political repression.” The panelists agreed that social movements are unlikely in China’s near future. “But there is always a possibility that something unpredictable happens,” says  Daniel Leese, Professor of Modern Chinese History and Politics at the University of Freiburg.

You can listen to an edited version of the debate in our latest MERICS Experts Podcast.

Joerg Wuttke on the future of EU-China economic relations

May 29, 2019

Only recently international companies have been allowed to start their own major projects in China. The German car builder BMW is for the first time majority shareholder of a joint venture in Shenyang, whereas chemical company BASF announced the investment of 10 billion dollars into a joint project in Guangdong Province. China opens up its market in areas where it could benefit from prestigious partners, says old China hand Joerg Wuttke, BASF China chief representative and newly elected president of the European Chamber in Beijing. Together with Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich and Frank N. Pieke he discusses the latest cooperation, the US-Chinese trade dispute and the European-China relations. Listen to the live recording of the MERICS event from May 7 in our latest podcast.

Chloé Froissart: “Labor issues are particularly sensitive for the CCP”

April 30, 2019

Over the last year, the Chinese government has been tightening its grip on labor activism across the country. In the southern industrial hub of Shenzhen, factory workers of a welding machinery company were arrested after trying to form their own union in July 2018. Many of them remain in custody until today. But crackdowns on labor activists do not seem to discourage workers and employees. Recent social media protests against excessive working hours in the tech industry show that they are increasingly aware of their rights and actively oppose poor labor conditions. In our special Labor Day issue of MERICS experts, French researcher Chloé Froissart talks to Claudia Wessling about her field work with Chinese workers and explains the dilemma of official trade unions torn between workers’ demands and party loyalty.