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Nabil Alsabah

Research Associate

Nabil Alsabah’s research focuses on China’s internet governance and cybersecurity and the Chinese military (PLA reform and the PLA’s external activities). He holds a master’s degree in computer science from the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences as well as a PhD in psychology with a special focus on modern Chinese politics. As a computer scientist he conducted research at the University of Würzburg’s Chair of Artificial Intelligence. Later, he spent four years doing PhD research at Peking University, National University of Taiwan, National University of Singapore and Stanford University. He has also been engaged in voluntary work for the German Atlantic Association as well as the Clausewitz Association. 




Johannes Buckow

Research Associate

Johannes Buckow’s research focus is on China's internal security and Taiwan. Before joining MERICS, he was a research fellow at the Department of Politics at the University of Trier and a contributor to the research network “Governance in China”. He holds a master’s degree in Politics and Modern Chinese Studies. During his studies he gained professional experience at the Federal Foreign Office and the Armed Forces Staff Academy.




George G. Chen

Research Associate

George G. Chen is an expert on China’s judicial system and legal policies. He is the author of Copyright and International Negotiations: An Engine of Free Expression in China?, a monograph published by the Cambridge University Press (forthcoming). He has advised the Chinese and European governments on a variety of legal projects within the framework of the Sino-EU-Dialogue on the State of Rule of Law. Chen has a PhD in law from the University of Göttingen. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law (CIPIL), and the Wolfson College of the University of Cambridge. He was a Visiting Academic of the PCMLP based at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies of the University of Oxford and a research fellow and Konrad Adenauer scholar at the University of Göttingen.




Thomas S. Eder

Research Associate

Thomas Eder’s research focuses on Eurasian geopolitics, EU-China relations and transnational security, and the international legal order. Prior to joining MERICS, he analysed Sino-Russian relations and Chinese energy security, as well as China’s relations with international courts and tribunals. While he studied for his PhD in international law, he worked as a Research Associate at the Universities of Vienna and Hong Kong and a guest scholar at New York University. He also gained professional experience as a Junior Officer at the Austrian Foreign Ministry.




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.




Marie Hoffmann

Executive Assistant to the President and Coordinator of the Fellowship Programme 

Marie Hoffmann is Executive Assistant to the President and coordinator of the Fellowship Programme. Her research focus is on Chinese outbound tourism. Prior to joining MERICS, she worked at the Berlin branch of the Goethe Institute, where she was responsible for customer relationship management and international project coordination. She studied Sinology, Chinese language and business in Berlin, Paris and Shanghai. She also worked in several Chinese companies and gathered experience in multilateral collaboration.




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.




Jaqueline Ives

Research Associate

Jaqueline Ives focuses on industrial policy and digitisation in China. Prior to joining MERICS, she worked as a research associate at the Institute for China Business and Economics in Würzburg. She studied Asian Studies, Chinese, Economics and China’s economy in Bonn, Shanghai and Würzburg. During her studies, Ives gained professional experience in the German automobile industry in Wolfsburg and international textile trade in Hong Kong. In her master thesis, she analysed the relevance of tax havens for Chinese companies.




Bertram Lang

Research Associate, European China Policy Unit (ECPU)

Bertram Lang’s research focuses on society relations between Europe and China, as well as civil society organisations and anti-corruption campaigns in China. Prior to joining MERICS he assisted project planning at the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Stuttgart as a graduate trainee. Bertram studied Political Science and Chinese at the University of Freiburg in Germany, the Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence in France and Nanjing University in China. He further specialised in EU-China relations during a postgraduate programme at the College of Europe in Bruges in 2014/15. During his studies, he gained work experience in the European Parliament, the Delegation of the European Union in Beijing and with Transparency International in Lisbon.




Simon Lang

Research Associate

Simon Lang’s research focuses on social conflicts and protests, education policy and lifestyle, consumption and gender issues in China as well as the social impacts of urbanisation. Before joining MERICS he conducted fieldwork in Chongqing, analysing identity formation, gender issues and youth culture. During his studies in social sciences at the University of Amsterdam he conducted research on NGOs in Taiwan and was a guest lecturer for global history at the National Central University. Lang has a bachelor’s degree in China studies from Freie Universität Berlin and studied Chinese language at Chongqing University. 




Helena Legarda

Research Associate

Helena Legarda’s research focuses on China’s foreign and security policies, including their domestic sources and drivers, and their geopolitical impact. Prior to joining MERICS she gained professional experience at the Delegation of the European Union to China and at research and advisory firm China Policy in Beijing. Legarda holds a Master in Public Policy degree with a focus on International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a BA in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford. She also studied Chinese language at Peking University.




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).




Sabine Mokry

Research Associate

Sabine Mokry’s research focuses on the domestic sources of China’s foreign and security policy as well as on Chinese activities on the African continent. She also supports the Vice President Research in coordinating the institute’s research activities. Before joining MERICS, she conducted research on China-India relations and the role of emerging powers in the global order at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg. At Berlin’s Free University, she participated in research projects on Chinese foundations and on relations between China and Latin America. She studied International Relations and China Studies in Berlin and Passau with semesters abroad in Oxford and Geneva. She published one master thesis on the International Relations discipline in China and another one on the role of sources in foreign reporting about China. She spent a year at Nanjing University and after that gained practical experiences working at the Beijing Civil Society Development Research Center. 




Mareike Ohlberg

Research Associate

Mareike Ohlberg focuses on China’s subnational politics, official media policy as well as developments in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ohlberg holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from the University of Heidelberg and an MA from Columbia University. In her thesis, she analysed changes in China’s global propaganda outreach since 1978. Prior to joining MERICS, Ohlberg spent a year as an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and another year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Cheng Shewo Institute for Chinese Journalism at Shih Hsin University in Taipei.




Lea Shih

Research Associate

Lea Shih’s research focuses on China’s political leadership and state institutions.  Prior to joining MERICS she worked as a doctoral researcher at the Department of Politics at the University of Trier. During her research work within the “Governance in China” research network, she completed her doctoral thesis “Chinese Industry Policy, 1978 - 2013”. Shih earned a master’s degree in political science and media science in Trier and a bachelor’s degree in German Language and literature studies in Beijing. 




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.




Max J. Zenglein

Research Associate

Max J. Zenglein’s research focuses on China’s sector-specific and macroeconomic development, Chinese-German economic relations and China’s labour market and employment. Prior to joining MERICS he worked as an economic analyst in the Beijing and Shenzhen offices of the German Chamber of Commerce Greater China, where he monitored macroeconomic conditions in the Greater China region and surveyed German companies in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2015 he completed his Ph.D. in political economy. He studied at the University of New York at Buffalo, the Berlin School of Economics and Law, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Kassel. 




Zhu Yi

Research Associate
Currently on sabbatical

Zhu Yi focuses on China’s media policy (especially social media), social change and new social actors. Prior to joining MERICS she was Head of Programmes at the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Beijing office, where she was responsible for the entire China portfolio, bringing together prominent German and Chinese figures from politics and civil society to discuss and analyse current developments in China. She edited the book Wie China debattiert (How China Debates), a collection of essays by Chinese intellectuals. Zhu also worked as PR Manager for the German development agency GIZ in China. She studied German and Media Studies at the University of Trier. 




  • Stiftung Mercator