Thematic focus

The Think Tank is – together with the MC Journal – the academic heart of Mapping China. In as of now six categories – three primarily domestic ones, three international ones – students can publish their own work as part of our working paper series (kindly note that working papers for other topics are also accepted as the specification of the categories is an on-going process). If you are unsure which category suits your working paper best get in touch with Julia. Also, kindly refer to our working paper submission guidelines before handing in any work. For any German-reading students the (as of now) four introductions in all categories are a helpful tool. For all English readers, kindly refer to the short summaries here:

China in Regional Integration Processes
This category is dedicated to all work on China’s regionalization efforts around the globe. Both processes of integration as well as disintegration are open for submission. Working Papers can focus on both formal and informal processes of integration processes. While there is no regional restriction, work has so far mostly focused on Asia, but theoretical discussions on regional integration are also encouraged.
Read more in German here.
Further Readings:

  • Acharya, Amitav (2009) Whose Ideas Matter? Agency and Power in Asian Regionalism. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
  • Beeson, Mark (2007) Regionalism and Globalization in East Asia. Politics, Security and Economic Development. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.
  • Dent, Christopher M. (2006) East Asian Regionalism. Routledge, Oxon.
  • Hettne, Björn; Söderbaum, Fredrik (1998) The New Regionalism Approach. Politeia, Vol 17, No 3, pp. 6-21.
  • Jiang, Yang (2013) China’s Policymaking for Regional Economic Cooperation. Palgrave Macmillan, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.
  • Katzenstein, Peter (2005) A World of Regions: Asia and Europe in the American Imperium. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
  • Söderbaum, Fredrik; Shaw, Timothy M. (2003) Theories of New Regionalism. A Palgrave Reader. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.


China – EU
China and the EU are two relatively new actors in international relations, but have nonetheless gained a lot of influence in a short time. Both China and the EU are complex and non-unitary actors who have demonstrated engagement in improving bilateral relations on several points, but are still facing problems due to trade barriers, human rights, arms sales and market entry. In a time of financial and legitimacy crises in EU and China and with an unsure US policy directions, the category asks the question of what connects and divides China and the EU – in politics, economics but also with regards to their civil societies.
Read more in German here.
Further Readings on China-EU relations:

  • Men Jing (2014) “Is There A Strategic Partnership between the EU and China?” European Foreign Affairs Review 19, Special Issue: pp.5-18.
  • Liu Lirong “The Evolution of China’s EU Policy: From Mao’s Intermediate Zone to a Strategic Partnership Based on Non-Shared Values.” Journal of European Integration History 18, no.1 (2012): 11-23.
  • Smith, Micheal E. (2016) “EU Diplomacy and the EU – China strategic relationship: framing,negotiation and management“, 7571 (May); abrufbar unter http://doi.org/10.1080/09557571.2015.1118999.

Further Readings on China’s Foreign Policy:

  • Jacobson, Linda and Knox, Dean (2010) New Foreign Policy Actors in China, Policy Paper no.26., Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Stockholm; aufrufbar unter: http://books.sipri.org/files/PP/SIPRIPP26.pdf.
  • Wang Feiling (2005), “Preservation, Prosperity and Power: What Motivates China’s Foreign Policy?” Journal of Contemporary China 14, no.45 669-694.
  • Wang Jisi (März-April 2011), “China’s Search for a Grand Strategy: a Rising Great Power Finds Its Way” in: Foreign Affairs

Further Readings on EU’s Foreign Policy:

  • Smith, Michael E. (2011) “A Liberal Grand Strategy in a Realist World? Power, Purpose and the EU’s Changing Global Role.” Journal of European Public Policy 18, no.2 144-163.
  • Murdoch, Zuzana (2012) “Negotiating the European External Action Service (EEAS): Analyzing the External Effects of Internal (Dis)Agreement.” Journal of Common Market Studies 50, no. 6: 1011–1027.

China in Africa
China in Africa has quickly become one of the most hyped research sub-disciplines. Research work on the topic has mostly involved economic analysis, work on labor and aid as well as discussion on a supposed neo-exploitative model of China. While the category is not dedicated in those research topics, authors are encouraged to reflect the colonial legacy of European Powers and discuss other aspects of Chinese-African relations, e.g. from a civil society perspective. Contributions in this category should reflect that Chinese actors in Africa are not unitary. Also, work that treats “Africa” as one big country cannot be accepted.
Read more in German here.
Further Readings:

  • Alden, Chris (2007). China in Africa. Zed Books, London.
  • Dent, Christopher M. (2011). China and Africa Development Relations. Routledge, London.
  • French, Howard W. (2015). China’s second continent: How a million migrants are building a new empire in Africa. Vintage Books, New York.
  • Manji, Firoze; Marks, Stephen (2007). African Perspectives on China in Africa. Fahamu, Cape Town, Nairobi, Oxford.
  • Taylor, Ian (2010). China’s new role in Africa. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder.
  • Zhao, Suisheng (2014). A Neo-Colonialist Predator or Development Partner? China’s
    engagement and rebalance in Africa. Journal of Contemporary China, 23: 90, pp. 1033-1052.

Political Participation
While China is an authoritarian state with a top-down disciplined party, spaces for political participation of both formal actors and civil society have opened up in China in recent years. Due to an ongoing economic liberalization, individualism has gained traction within Chinese society and has  fostered  change  in relations between the state and society . Nonetheless, marketization has not resulted in democratization and is unlikely to do so in the case of China. The category wants to analyze both institutionalized and un-institutionalized modes of political participation.
Further Readings:

  • Béja, Jean-Philippe (2006), “The changing aspects of civil society in China.” Social Research: An International Quarterly 73 (1), 53-74.
  • Hu, Zongze (2008), “Power to the People? Villagers’ self-rule in a North China village from the locals’ point of view.” Journal of Contemporary China 17 (57), 611-631.
  • Shaw, Victor N. (1996) “Mainland China’s Political Development: is the CCP’s version of democracy relevant?” Issues & Studies 32 (7), 59 – 82.
  • Yongshun Cai (2009), “Social Conflicts and Modes of Action in China”, The China Journal, No. 59, 89-109.
  • Wei Pan (2003), “Toward a Consultative Rule of Law Regime in China”, Journal of Contemporary China, 12 (34), 3-43.

Actors and Institutions
China is not a unitary state and Chinese political actors and institutions are complex. The purpose of the category is to lay out various perspectives by analyzing important actors and institutions that from and influence modern Chinese politics. Institutional change and change in actors due to inner-party fights or anti-corruption efforts of the Party are also analyzed in this category.
Read more in German here.
Further Readings:

  • Heberer, Thomas (2013), „Das politische System der VR China im Prozess des Wandels“, in: Derichs, Claudia/ Heberer, Thomas (Hrsg.), Die politischen Systeme Ostasiens, Eine Einführung, 3. Auflage, Wiesbaden.
  • Heilmann, Sebastian (2016), Das politische System der Volksrepublik China, 3. Auflage, Wiesbaden.
  • Lawrence, Susan V./ Martin, Michael F. (2013), Understanding China’s Political System, 20. März, http://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R41007.pdf, letzter Zugriff: 06. Mai 2016.
  • Saich, Tony (2011), Governance and Politics of China, 3. Auflage, Basingstoke.

Gender in China
China has long had a dual tradition of restricting women’s rights as well as matrimonial lines of heritage, especially prominent in the case of the Mosuo in Yunnan. Nowadays, more women live in China than men but no women rule alongside men in the highest levels of the party. Just 24 % of seats in parliament are held by women in China. Younger generations of women in China increasingly feel that demands made on them by families or societies do not reflect their own goals and aspirations. The category intends to provide contribution on China from a gender perspective both for formal institutions as well as for informal ways of living. Doing gender is therefore analyzed on more than one level.