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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.

The MERICS Experts Podcast is produced by Ruth Kirchner.

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.


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.

James Kynge: The New Silk Road and the "China Dream"

February 22, 2017

The "New Silk Road" or "One Belt One Road Initiative" launched by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013 is unprecedented in scope and reach. China wants to spend some $900bn on infrastructure projects connecting the Middle Kingdom to other parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. This, Beijing hopes, will create new markets for Chinese products and provide contracts for Chinese companies. But some projects have turned into “red elephants”, others have clear strategic and military dimensions, says James Kynge, seasoned China-watcher and former FT bureau chief in Beijing. OBOR, he argues, is much more than Chinese-style globalization. Listen to James Kynge talking about China’s ambitions and the risks and opportunities of OBOR in the new Merics Experts Podcast.

Kevin Rudd: China’s nascent strategy for a new global order

October 12, 2016

What does China really want with its foreign policy? Is there a grand strategy for Xi Jinping’s new multilateralism? And is China’s „One Belt, One Road“ initiative maybe less about geopolitics and more of an encounter with the complex realities in some of the most unstable countries in the world? Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has met Xi Jinping several times and last week shared his observations with MERICS. The experienced diplomat, politician and fluent Mandarin speaker gave a lecture at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and talked to MERICS Director Sebastian Heilmann. Listen to an edited version of the event in our new MERICS Experts podcast.

Zhang Jieping: "There’s a huge appetite for independent journalism"

October 5, 2016

These are tough times for independent media in China: Censorship and controls have increased considerably in recent years. The pressure is also felt in Hongkong despite the territory’s greater freedoms. Still, several media start-ups have sprung up in Hongkong recently. One of the biggest is the online platform “Initium”. Within a year it has attracted more than two million regular readers although the site quickly got blocked on the mainland. Chief Editor Zhang Jieping says there’s a huge appetite for independent journalism. In the new Merics Experts podcast she talks about how to survive in a challenging political environment while sticking to her journalistic principles.

Richard McGregor: China's authoritarian future

August 4, 2016

For all its problems, China is an incredibly successful country and still has a lot of growth potential, says Richard McGregor, visiting fellow at George Washington University. All gloomy scenarios about economic or political collapse have proved wrong so far. So, what if Xi Jinping succeeds in restructuring the economy and strengthening the Communist Party? China would emerge as a much more powerful country, says McGregor. However, there’s nothing in the party’s DNA that suggests China would be more accommodating internationally or more liberal domestically. That’s Richard McGregor in the latest Merics Experts podcast.