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Department of Political Science Democracy Studies

CIS Workshop

The Dragon after the Pandemic

Reflections on Recent Political Developments in China

Wednesday 15 November 2023
h. 08:30 - 18:00


In a world where the dynamics of global politics are in a state of constant flux, China’s role as a global powerhouse has never been more pivotal. During the Covid-19 pandemic, China adopted an isolationist stance and pursued a stringent and rigorous zero-Covid policy. But as China reopens its doors to the world after several years of pandemic retreat, observers have noted a shift in the nation’s political climate. The CCP’s party-state regime seems more consolidated than ever, with tighter control over public discourse. Recent legislation discussions aimed at expanding state control over society and the economy have left foreign (and domestic) investors feeling uncertain. In addition, China’s post-pandemic economic recovery is marred by a looming crisis in its real estate sector, as well as other significant economic challenges. Meanwhile, global geopolitical tensions have surged. The U.S.-China trade war, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, cross-straits developments regarding Taiwan, and alignment with Russia in the Ukraine conflict have raised concerns worldwide. 

The primary goal of this workshop is to shed light on China’s complex post-pandemic political landscape, highlighting salient issues and important developments. The workshop brings together experts who have conducted extensive research on China’s recent political developments, with both domestic and international implications, offering insights into their broader implications. By fostering interdisciplinarity dialogue and sharing research findings, we aim to facilitate a deeper understanding of this evolving situation, while creating opportunities for further collaboration to navigate this new era of complexities and challenges in researching on China.

The workshop is open to students and researchers from UZH and ETHZ, as well as to members from the wider community interested in the topic.


Wednesday 15th of November 2023

8h30    Welcome and coffee
8h45     Prof. Baogang He, Dr. Michiel Foulon, Prof. Daniel Kübler
               Welcome and Introduction by Workshop Convenors 

Paper Session 1. Chair: Prof. Daniel Kübler

8h50    Prof. Dr. Yves SINTOMER, University of Paris 8 (France)
              Assessing Political Developments in China from the West: Hypotheses and Questions

9h30    Prof. Dr. Baogang HE, Deakin University (Australia) and Department of Political Science, University of Zurich (Switzerland)
               A Critical Reflection of 40 Years Political Reform in China: How does the Absence of Political Reform Constrain its Global Leadership Ambition

10h10 - 10h30  Coffee break

Paper Session 2: Chair: Dr. Michiel Foulon

10h30   Prof. Dr. Su Yun WOO, University of Twente (Netherlands)
               Let the Data Speak: the Role of Big Data in Poverty Alleviation in Rural China

11h10   Dr. Jue WANG, Institute for Area Studies, University of Leiden (Netherlands)
               Flawed Economic Statecraft, Perceived Threat and Deepening Distrust: An Analysis of   China's Challenges in the Global Technology Innovation System

12h00  Dr. Hongyi LAI, University of Nottingham (UK)
              The Politics of Pandemic Response in China 

12h40 - 14h00:             Break in the Programme for Lunch

Paper Session 3: Chair: Prof. Daniel Kübler

14h00   Dr.  Michiel FOULON, ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
              Why US-China Relations Deteriorate: Deterrence, Domestic Politics, and Strategic  Interaction

14h40   Dr. Sara VAN HOEYMISSEN, Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
             The European Union's emerging economic security agenda vis-a-vis China

15h20 - 15h40              Coffee break

Paper Session 4: Chair: Prof. Daniel Kübler

15h40   PD Dr. Simona GRANO, University of Zurich (Switzerland)
             China’s Shadow on the 2024 Elections in Taiwan

16h20  Prof. Dr. Daniel KÜBLER, University of Zurich (Switzerland)
               The Changing Image of the European Union in China: Chinese Public Perceptions of the EU as Revealed in 2010 and 2020 Surveys.

17h00   Roundtable discussion led by Madelaine WIEBALCK, Asia Society Switzerland
               Current Conditions for Conducting Research in China

17h45   Conclusion by the Workshop Convenors 

18h00                           End of the Workshop



Prof. Dr. Daniel KÜBLER
Department of Political Science, University of Zurich

Prof. Dr. Baogang HE
Department of Political Science, University of Zurich (guest professor) and Deakin University, Australia

Dr. Michiel FOULON
Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich


Daniel KÜBLER is Professor of Democracy and Public Governance at the Department of Political Science at the University of Zurich as well as the Head of the Department for General Democracy at the Centre for Democracy in Aarau (ZDA). 
He has held various positions as a lecturer and research fellow at the University of Lausanne, the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne), ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, the University of Applied Science of Northwest Switzerland in Basel (FHNW), the University of Montpellier, the University of Constance, the University of New South Wales, as well as at Sciences Po Paris.
His areas of research cover Urban Politics and Policy, Multi-level Governance and Democracy, Alternative Forms of Citizen Participation, Representative Bureaucracy, and Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation (Social Policy, Health Policy, Spatial Development Policies). 

Baogang HE is Alfred Deakin Professor at Deakin University, and the Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Professor He is widely known for his work in Chinese politics, in particular the deliberative politics in China as well as in regionalism, international relations, federalism, and multiculturalism in Asia. His published books include The Democratisation of ChinaThe Democratic Implications of Civil Society in ChinaRural Democracy in China, and Governing Taiwan and Tibet. His recent co-edited books include Deliberative Democracy in Asia, (with Michael Breen and James Fishkin), Routledge, 2021, and China and North Korea’s Human Rights (with David Hundt, Chengxin Pan), Routledge, 2021, and Comparative Federalism in Asia (with Michael Breen and Laura Reumann, Routledge, 2023). He is also currently a visiting professor at the University of Zurich. 
His research interests include Normative Theories of International Relations, Asian Regionalism, World Citizenship, Global Justice, International Non-governmental Organizations, Federalism in Asia, Village Citizenship, Deliberative Democracy, Chinese Democratization, Chinese Politics, Comparative Politics, and Political Theory.

Michiel FOULON is a Senior Researcher on US grand strategy towards China and European grand strategy at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich. 
Prior to joining the ETH, Michiel worked at the Free University Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), was Assistant Professor in International Relations at Leiden University (Netherlands) and taught at the University of Warwick (UK), where he obtained his PhD. Michiel has been a Fellow with the UK’s Higher Education Academy since 2015, was nominated for the Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence (UK) in 2016. 
Michiel has taught and conducted research on international security, research methods and thesis writing international relations in the Asia-​Pacific, the United States and East Asia, international relations theory, world politics, the global environment of business, and governance, and politics and corporate accountability. His current research focuses on the role of security and trade dynamics in US and European strategy as well as International Relations Theory with a focus on neoclassical realism. Michiel is finalising his book on neoclassical realism and American grand strategy towards China since 1991.

Simona GRANO is Senior Lecturer at the University of Zurich (UZH) and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at UZH. Previously she held research positions and taught China Studies and Taiwan Studies at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, the UZH, and the National Cheng'chi University in Taiwan. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong and is a research fellow of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT) in Tübingen, Germany and a research associate of SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London.
Simona is the author of Environmental Governance in Taiwan: a New Generation of Activists and Stakeholders, Routledge, 2015 and her regional expertise centers on the People's Republic of China as well as on Taiwan and Hong Kong and her areas of interest are Chinese contemporary society, Chinese domestic and international politics, Cross-Strait Relations, Identity Politics in Taiwan, Environmental governance and nuclear issues (China, Taiwan), and Civil Society (China,Taiwan).

Yves SINTOMER is professor of political science at Paris VII University as well as Senior Fellow at the French University Institute, UCL. He has held academic positions at several institutions: Neuchâtel, Lausanne, Basque Country, Harvard, Tsinghua (Beijing), Frankfurt, Madrid, Louvain-la-Neuve, Catania, and the Marc Bloch Center (Berlin). His writings have been published in 18 languages and include Participatory Budgeting in Europe; Democracy and Public Governance (with C. Herzberg and A. Röcke), Ashgate, 2016. His areas of research over the years have included political sociology and philosophy, participatory democracy and deliberative democracy, the drawing of lots in politics, the Republic of Florence, political representation, and a comprehensive approach to democracy.

Su Yun WOO is Assistant Professor of Public Governance and Transformation at the University of Twente. Previously, she completed her doctoral studies at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Zurich (UZH) in 2020. During her doctoral studies, she acquired extensive research expertise and fieldwork experience focusing on local citizen participation (Participatory Budgeting), urban governance and democratic innovations. She did her BA in Political Science at the National University of Singapore, and her MA in International Studies at the Comparative and International Studies program (CIS, ETH Zurich and University of Zurich). Her research areas include citizen participation, democratic innovations, digital governance, with an area focus on China. She is further pursuing a new research agenda of the intersection of technology and governance, still focusing on China, but also in a broader context. 

Jue WANG is Lecturer on Chinese Economy at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) as well as Associate Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs. She gained her PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. 
Jue WANG’s research focuses on China’s political economy, its external economic relationship, and its role in regional and global economic governance. She also has a wide range of research interests in international economic organizations, international cooperation, and the development of emerging economies. She is currently completing a book on China’s evolving role in regional and global economic governance, with a focus on its dynamic interactions with the World Bank, the IMF and the ADB since the 1980s and its recent efforts in establishing and managing the BRICS’ NDB and the AIIB. Her other current research projects focus on origins and implications of China’s recent economic slowdown; revision of market economy in China; Chinese overseas investment under the Belt and Road Initiative; and South-South investment cooperation between Asia and the Gulf in Africa.

Hongyi LAI is Associate Professor at the School of Politics and Political Economy at the University of Nottingham, UK. He has been a programme leader/coordinator for the BA Contemporary Chinese Studies and International Relations and for MSc Global Issues and Contemporary Chinese Studies for years. He teaches modules on government and politics, political economy, and international political economy of China.
Hongyi LAI’s research covers China's domestic political economy (reform strategies, national-local relations, regional development and ethnic areas), international political economy (including energy diplomacy and overseas expansion of the national energy firms), governance (including protests, state-societal relations, institutional development, and transformation and vitality of the regime), and foreign policy (domestic linkage and soft power). His academic publications in English include eight books, over twenty refereed journal articles, and twenty book chapters.

Sara VAN HOEYMISSEN is a researcher in the Economic Security Unit of the Royal Military Academy (RMA) of Belgium and a Guest Professor in the Political Science Department of the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Sara's research interests are in Chinese economic statecraft, EU-China relations, and Africa-China relations. Prior to joining the RMA in October 2022, she was the Coordinator of the Chinese Studies Programme at the University of Botswana. Sara holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from the University of Leuven in Belgium.

Madelaine WIEBALCK is Executive Programs Manager at Asia Society Switzerland, an independent Swiss foundation dedicated to increasing Switzerland's Asia Competence. Previously, she worked for the University of Zurich, where she headed a Master-level program in Business Management with a focus on China. A sinologist by training, she has lived, studied and worked indifferent parts of Asia. She holds an MA in Chinese Studies from the Julius Maximilians University in Wi.irzburg and a BA in Sinology from the University of Zurich.



Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich)
University of Zurich (UZH)
Centre for International and Comparative Studies (CIS)
Doctoral Programme Democracy Studies (DPDS)





University of Zurich
Room KOL-G-217