Panel 10 (Gerstl)

Sustainable Academic Engagement with China: Challenges, Trends, and Opportunities – The View from Central and Eastern Europe

Panel organizer

Mag. Dr. Alfred Gerstl, MIR (Palacky University Olomouc)


Rumena Filipova (Institute for Global Analytics, Bulgaria): Bulgaria’s Embrace of Chinese Academia:
Seeking Opportunity, Overlooking Danger

Ani Kintsurashvili (Civic Idea, Georgia):
The PRC’s Academic Engagement in Georgia

Alfred Gerstl (Palacky University Olomouc) and Martin Mandl (University of Vienna):
Austria’s academic relations with China: Just one partner among many


Panel abstract

We live in an interdependent and interconnected world where people, goods, and ideas are as mobile as never before. This international mobility also includes scientists and their research. In the last few years, China invested massively in research and technology, and as a consequence many Chinese universities are now ranked among the global top-100. However, as China is an authoritarian governed country, the academic mobility and interconnectedness with China is increasingly questioned by the general public as well as economic and political actors in Europe. Fears of a know-how and technology transfer to an authoritarian country exist.

Moreover, there are concerns that sensitive European know-how can be used by Chinese actors for military purposes, without the knowledge or explicit consent of the European partner. In light of China’s rising economic and military power and the systemic conflict between China and the United States, risks and threats arising from an academic engagement with China are increasingly questioned also in Europe. Germany has only recently seen a public discussion of how its actors should position themselves in this changing environment. The DGA has likewise issued a positioning statement.

In this panel, we ask how sustainable the current Sino-European academic engagement is for both sides and how its sustainability can be improved. The panel will map the current state of the cooperation between China and Central- and Eastern European academic institutions and analyze the guidelines on the EU and national levels for involvement in such interactions. The panelists will provide evidence collected across Central and Eastern Europe to help better understand the origins, specific circumstances and patterns of academic relations with Chinese entities in individual European countries. Specific case studies will further highlight positive and negative aspects as well as the risks of academic cooperation with China.

The results presented here do so without reverting to undifferentiated, normative perceptions of good vs. evil and instead challenge all parties involved to exercise diligence and openness to sustain levels of academic exchange and dialogue that reflect the plurality of topics, opinions, and opportunities researchers have gained from interconnection and mobility. This panel ultimately helps fostering our understanding of the nature, volume and transparency of Europe’s current scientific cooperation with China. It maps the challenges, trends, and opportunities arising from this cooperation in Central- and Eastern Europe. This understanding is vital to a sustainable academic engagement with China in the years to come.

Paper submission

If you want to participate in this panel, please submit your paper proposal here.

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