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Heads of Programmes

Heads of Programmes

Mikko Huotari

Head of Programme Foreign Relations

Mikko Huotari heads the programme on China’s foreign relations. His research focuses on China’s foreign policy, China-Europe relations as well as regional order in Asia. He has published extensively on China’s global investment strategy and economic relations with Europe as well as on geopolitical issues such as tensions in the South China Sea. 

Before joining MERICS, he taught International Political Economy and Chinese Foreign Policy at the University of Freiburg. During his studies of International Politics and International Law in Freiburg, Nanjing and Shanghai he gained experience in policy-oriented China research at the German-Chinese Law Institute in Nanjing, the German Embassy in Beijing and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin.




Kristin Shi-Kupfer

Director of the Research Area on Public Policy and Society   

Kristin Shi-Kupfer heads MERICS’ research on politics, society and the media. She is an expert on media policy, civil society, religious policy and ideology in China. 

She previously worked as a research associate at the University of Freiburg’s Institute for Sinology. She earned her PhD from Ruhr University Bochum with a thesis on spiritual and religious groups in China after 1978. From 2007 to 2011 she was the China correspondent for the Austrian news magazine Profil, the German Protestant Press Agency epd, and Südwest Presse in Beijing. She also worked as a freelance contributor for other media like ZEIT Online, tageszeitung (taz), and Deutsche Welle in China. 




Mirjam Meissner

Head of Programme Economy & Technology

Mirjam Meissner’s research focuses on industrial and innovation policy, infrastructure policy and renewable energy in China. She previously worked as a research associate with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), where she was responsible for establishing and overseeing Stiftung Mercator’s dialogue program for Chinese-German young professionals. Meissner studied Sinology, Politics and Economics in Berlin and Wuhan. During her studies she gained experience in scientific policy advice through internships at GPPi and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).




Matthias Stepan

Head of Programme Domestic Politics  

Matthias Stepan is the head of the research programme on Chinese domestic politics. He is an expert on policy-making processes and China’s state-party nexus. His research focuses on the changing role of government, multi-level governance, better regulation, and the transformation of China’s social security system.

Prior to joining MERICS, he worked as a researcher and junior lecturer at the VU University Amsterdam. In 2008-2010, he was affiliated with the Beijing based EU-China Social Security Reform Cooperation Project, where he supported the preparation of policy advice to Chinese central government ministries. Stepan is actively engaged in the academic exchange among leading European and Chinese experts in the field of public policy, especially social policy.




Jost Wübbeke

Head of Programme Economy & Technology

Jost Wübbeke focuses on China’s innovation policy, digital economy as well as its policy on energy and natural resources and product safety. He published on industrial policy, smart manufacturing and the internet of things in China. Wübbeke wrote his PhD thesis on the Chinese raw materials and rare earth industry at the Environmental Policy Centre of the Free University Berlin. During his studies of International Relations and East Asian Studies, he interned at the German Embassy in Beijing and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He was a visiting researcher at Tsinghua University and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, an environmental research institute in Norway.




Jan Gaspers

Head of the European China Policy Unit (ECPU)

Jan Gaspers’s research focuses on Europe-China security relations, transatlantic China policy and cyber diplomacy. He previously worked as a political analyst for the RAND corporation, where he was responsible for managing a wide range of research projects on European and transatlantic foreign and security policy issues for European governments and EU institutions. Gaspers also held research and management positions with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE, the EU Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna, the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Centre for Development Policy Management. He earned an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge as well as BA degrees in European Studies from the University of Maastricht and in International Relations and Politics from the University of Sussex.




  • Stiftung Mercator