The panelists will discuss how civil society engagement with China can be constructive and productive in the future. European and Chinese policy-makers have acknowledged on many occasions the importance of extending their relations beyond diplomatic and business interactions and promote regular exchanges between ordinary citizens and civil society organizations (CSO) from both sides. The creation of an EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue in 2012 was a milestone in these efforts.

In recent years, however, civil society exchanges with and in China are facing growing barriers. Administrative restrictions hamper the work of European CSOs and limit their possibilities for interaction with Chinese partners. Many CSOs are worried that the new “Overseas NGO management law” will exacerbate this situation. On the other hand, the Chinese government asserts that European CSOs continue to be welcome in China and that the new law, together with the new Charity Law for Chinese organizations, is meant to improve the management of their activities. The panel will discuss what the current regulatory environment means for China-related activities by European NGOs, foundations or think tanks in the future. It will debate approaches to adapt to recent changes and explore ways to continue constructive and effective civil society cooperation with China in the future.

The panel discussion starts at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a reception.

We invite Isabel Hilton (journalist and author) and Andreas Fulda (Assistant Professor at University of Nottingham)

moderated by Bertram Lang (Research Associate at European China Policy Unit ) to discuss.

Isabel Hilton
Isabel Hilton is a international journalist and broadcaster. She is the author of several books and is founder and editor of, a non-profit, bilingual online publication on the environment and climate change. She studied at Beijing Foreign Language and Culture University and at Fudan University in Shanghai, before taking up a career in written and broadcast journalism working for The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and the BBC. Hilton holds two honorary doctorates and was awarded the OBE for her work in raising environmental awareness in China.

Andreas Fulda
Dr. Andreas Fulda studied political science in Germany, Taiwan and UK. As a trained political scientist Dr Fulda has specialized in the analysis of the interplay between political institutions and civil society in the Greater China region.

Dr. Fulda’s intellectual journey began in the mid-1990s with his interest in Taiwan’s democratisation in the 20th century and the politics of factionalism in Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party. The island’s unique position in the East Asian security architecture compelled Dr. Fulda to learn more about China engagement strategies in general and EU-China relations in particular. In 2000, he began his own China engagement with an internship at the German Embassy in Beijing.

By 2002 Dr. Fulda started his PhD which focused on the promotion of participatory development in China. Between 2002 and 2007 he worked simultaneously on his PhD at Free University Berlin, Germany and as a social development practitioner for German and Chinese development organisations in Beijing, China. He published his thesis as a monograph in October 2008. Dr. Fulda is currently working on his second monograph entitled “Social and Political Activism in China. How Citizen Activists Are Silently Shaping Chinese Democracy” (Routledge, forthcoming).

Dr. Fulda was appointed as a lecturer at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at The University of Nottingham in September 2007. His papers are published in internationally referred journals such as Critical Asian Studies, International Quarterly for Asian Studies, Political Science and Politics, and the Journal of Contemporary China. He has written commentaries and country profiles for the German media, e.g. Das Parlament, F.A.Z.-Institut, and IP Journal of the German Council on Foreign Relations and also regularly publishes opinion editorials for The Conversation, The Guardian, and China Daily.

Bertram Lang
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.

Berlin – Europe-China Civil Society Cooperation: In Search of Ways Forward with Isabel Hilton, Andreas Fulda, Bertram Lang [Isabel Hilton, Andreas Fulda and Bertram Lang]
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