Individual Research Projects · Individuelle Forschungsprojekte

Research

  • IN-EAST’s academics conduct numerous individual research projects and, in addition to participating in the Institute’s two large coordinated research programs, are involved in various joint research projects with other institutions.
  • Many of the projects are organised or funded by third parties and are subject to peer review. Current projects are outlined below. Information on completed projects can be found in past issues of the Institute Report.
Birgit Apitzsch

(mit Jun.-Prof. Dr. Maximiliane Wilkesmann und Dr. Caroline Ruiner, TU Dortmund)

Kollektive Individualisierung – individuelle Kollektivierung? Zur Aushandlung von Arbeitsbedingungen im Bereich der hochqualifizierten Solo-Selbstständigen

MERCUR (Stiftung Mercator / Mercator Research Center Ruhr), 03/2015–06/2017

Flemming Christiansen

China’s Urbanisation Processes and the Emergence of New Political and Social Structures in China

Current research

Explorations of how new-style communities (shequ, i. e. local-level residential areas of public-policy provisioning) emerge in a medium-sized city in central China. The empirical research examines, in the first instance, how communities cater for the social transitions of peri-urban rural people relocated into urban settings and also seeks to capture the broad variety of interests, purposes and administrative logics that determine their structure and path of development. This research topic is driven by an interest in explaining how social developments in China reflect coherent systemic logics.

Broader research interests include the Chinese in the global economy, whereby the ethnic Chinese workers overseas are regarded as part of the same “supply chains” as migrant workers in China. This research seeks to understand how forms of social and ethnic exclusion are framed in different contexts, reflecting pressures from the global economy.

Flemming Christiansen

The Frontier of Industrialization in Continental North-East Asia

Current research

The research focuses on the frontier between “empires” in Norteast Asia as the site of indistrialization processes since the 1890 up till today. The project is a joint effort with colleagues working in Sociology and History to develop common themes for possible third party funding.

Flemming Christiansen

Ideology and China

Current research

The research applies theories of ideology to an understanding of the political sociology of China as well as to non-Chinese views of Chinese civilization.

Winfried Flüchter

The Territorialisation of the Sea: Maritime Boundary Conflicts in East Asia – Powers, Interests and National Identities

Current project

Since 1994, the juridical guidelines of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are applied for making use of the biggest “land seizure” of the sea in history. Particularly the impact of the establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone upon the oceans has been immense. Instead of res nullius (“nobody’s object“), large parts of the ocean space and its resources (approximately one third) have been “nationalized”, i.e. brought under coastal state jurisdiction (however not state sovereignty). With regard to East Asian Waters this research project focusses on the open conflicts the abutting nations (China, Japan, Russia, South Korea) are faced with each other in terms of

(1) the national belonging of whatever tiny, putatively unimportant islands, lumps of rock or coral reefs and, based on their existence, the establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone

(2) the struggle for islands between China and Japan (Diaoyu/Senkaku), between Japan and South Korea (Takeshima/Dokdo) and between Japan and Russia (southern Kuriles) in the context of UNCLOS’ maritime boundary guidelines and of history

(3) hyper-nationalism as part of territorial disputes: Reasons and risks for military escalation. Why nationalism is so much entwined territorially?

(4) paradigm shift back to traditional geopolitics? Learning from history?

(5) managing and resolving territorial disputes in East Asia based on a combination of different values of international relations theories (particularly constructivism and liberalism).

Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert (University of Tübingen)

Local Governance in China:
The Interaction of two Strategic Groups – Local Cadres and Private Entrepreneurs

Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, 2010 – October 2016

This project was part of the competence network Governance in China: Prerequisites, Constraints and Potentials for Political Adaption and Innovation Capacity in the 21st Century funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and in cooperation with Prof. Björn Alpermann (Würzburg) and Prof. Heike Holbig (Frankfurt and Hamburg).

Since 2014, the focus of the sub-project conducted by Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert has been shifted to the interaction between private entrepreneurs and local governments, and the organizational behavior and policy impact of entrepreneurs as a “strategic group”. Working at the lower tiers of the Chinese state, i.e., foremost at county, township and village level, we have found it most useful in our efforts to understand the local policy process, or ‘how things are getting done’ in China, to adhere to the concept of local developmentalism. We combine this, however, with ‘strategic group’ analysis to grasp the internal dynamics of the local developmental state, most notably the interaction between local governments and private entrepreneurs since the early 2000s and, particularly, in the aftermath of the 2008 outbreak of the global financial crisis. Based on preliminary fieldwork conducted in 14 cities or county-level entities in the provinces of Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hubei, Jilin, Hainan, Beijing and Guangdong respectively, this project has three objectives, i.e.,

– to investigate to what extent the local developmental state of today differs from its early counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s, most importantly the local corporatist state, a specific variant of the developmental type, so aptly described in the work of Jean Oi and others;

– to investigate if state-business relations in today’s local state show signs of change when compared to the findings of the earlier literature on the ‘corporatist’, ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘clientelist’ or ‘predatory’ state observed in the 1990s;

– to investigate the interaction between leading local cadres at county and township level and private entrepreneurs.

We argued that the relationship between local governments and private entrepreneurs has evolved over the past decade or so to become more horizontal than it has been in the early days of local developmentalism, meaning that private entrepreneurs have arguably gained more autonomy from local governments as market competition has increased and market institutions have matured. Local governments not only face rising difficulties in securing sound private sector development in times of global financial stress and structural change in the Chinese economy, but also in steering private entrepreneurship the way they did in former times. ‘Traditional’ local state corporatism and entrepreneurialism have given way to ‘service-oriented government’, with local governments in the more developed parts of China becoming ‘inhibited’ developmental states in the sense that they are increasingly bound to private entrepreneurs in a relationship of mutual dependency to make ends meet. The latter, for their part, are in a state of flux, slowly accumulating strategic power to keep the local state at bay and exert pressure on local governments. Though not yet recognizable, private entrepreneurs in China are a strategic group ‘in the making’, i.e., a potential strategic group. Even if they act collectively only in an uncoordinated way, their overarching interests and rational behavior gradually change the dynamics of local politics in contemporary China, resulting in a realignment of local government-business relations that may become the hallmark of a new era of ‘Chinese capitalism’ and, arguably, strengthen the political system’s adaptive capacity.

Thomas Heberer

(New) Political Representative Claims: A Global View – France, Germany, Brazil, China, India

A French-German Joint ­Cooperation Project sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the French L’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), 2016–2019.

The leading scientists in this research endeavor are Prof. Dr. Thomas Heberer (University of Duisburg-Essen) and Prof. Dr. Brigitte Geissel (Goethe University Frankfurt), as well as Prof. Yves Sintomer (Centre de Recherches Sociologiques et Politiques de Paris, CRESPPA) and Prof. Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal (Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, CNRS-EHESS, ­Paris).

Europe currently experiences a crisis of established forms of political representation, visible for example in increasing political distrust. Various claims to renew political representation are emerging all over the world. However, most contemporary research on representation focuses on electoral/mandate representation within single countries. As a result, we lack a comparative, global analysis of (new) representative claims developed outside the representative political system; and dynamics developing in the Global South, including non-democratic entities, are neglected by Western scholars. Our research intends to address these gaps by putting into perspective representative claims in France and Germany – two leading democracies in Europe actively experimenting with new concepts of representation –, and in three BRICS states: Brazil – the largest democracy in Latin America with innovative participatory devices including competing representative claims –, India – the world’s largest democracy and a pioneer in electoral quotas (as a claim for descriptive representation) –, and China – an authoritarian regime engaged in a huge transformation with specific representative claims.

Building on German and French political theories, our conceptual framework departs from standard ways of considering political representation in the context of electoral and mandate claims (e.g. Pitkin). We argue that while mandate representation remains important, it fails to account for crucial contemporary developments. Our premise is that political representation is increasingly related to the (re)emergence of new representative claims, i.e. situations in which an actor claims to speak/act in the name of others. Such claims are most often based on the denunciation of misrepresentation, which they pretend to correct. However, in spite of the increasing variety of representative claims around the world, a comprehensive conceptual framework and a typology allowing a deeper understanding of these claims are missing and we will address this conceptual gap.

In the five countries under scrutiny, we will identify different situations in which (seemingly) new representative claims are raised, criticized or justified. Proceeding through a carefully designed common methodological framework, our research will pursue the objective of analyzing developments of representative claims from a global, transnational perspective. To reach this objective we focus on two research fields. We analyze: (i) representative claims at the national level (national parliaments and media) raised during three national debates in each country; (ii) representative claims raised in three participatory devices at the subnational level in each country. At both levels representative claims are justified with alleged misrepresentation of certain groups/individuals within the given representative bodies. We will rest on qualitative methods for data collection and apply the adjusted Representative Claim Analysis for data analyses. To scale up our findings, we will follow the “case-thinking” approach, identify patterns of representative claims, develop a typology which can be applied for “terminological, classificatory and heuristic means’ (Weber 1921), and theorize the findings in the context of modern democratic theory.

The Duisburg team is responsible of the sub-project on China. It focuses on the following policy fields: (a) formal and informal patterns of representation and representative claims of private entrepreneurs, business organizations and formal and informal entrepreneurial networks; (b) formal and informal patterns of representation and representative claims in urban neighborhood communities; (c) new patterns of representation and representative claims by means of the Internet; (d) Chinese discourses, e. g. the “mass line” concept and patterns of “symbolic representation”.

Post-doctoral Research Fellow in this project is Dr. Anna Shpakovskaya.

Timo Heinrich

(with Felix S. Bethke)

Kulturelle Unterschiede bei Risikopräferenzen und Wahrnehmung außenpolitischer Ereignisse

Gefördert vom Profilschwerpunkt Wandel von Gegenwartsgesellschaften, Universität Duisburg-Essen, 09/2016–08/2017

Das geplante interdisziplinäre Forschungsvorhaben befasst sich mit experimenteller Grundlagenforschung zu kulturellen Unterschieden bei individuellen Risikopräferenzen und der Wahrnehmung von politischen Ereignissen. Kulturelle Unterschiede sind in diesem Kontext vor allem durch zwei Aspekte relevant. Erstens unterscheiden sich Individuen aus unterschiedlichen Kulturkreisen u.U. in ihrer Bereitschaft Risiken einzugehen und in der Bewertung von Entscheidungsalternativen als risikobehaftet oder risikoarm. Zweitens besteht zwischen Individuen unterschiedlicher Kulturkreise u.U. kein einheitliches Verständnis über die Bedeutung von Situationen und Ereignissen, auf deren Grundlage Präferenzen gebildet und letztlich Entscheidungen getroffen werden.

Ziel des geplanten Forschungsvorhabens ist die empirische Überprüfung von kulturellen Unterschieden bei Risikopräferenzen und Ereigniswahrnehmung mittels experimenteller Online-Umfragen in China und den USA. Die zwei zentralen Forschungsfragen sind dementsprechend, ob sich Individuen in China und den USA hinsichtlich ihrer Risikopräferenzen und/oder Ereigniswahrnehmung unterscheiden. Darüber hinaus soll auch der Einfluss von Risikopräferenzen auf Ereigniswahrnehmung analysiert werden.

Yuan Li

The Impact of New Silk Road Railways on Local Economic Development

Current research

One of the main focuses of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by the Chinese government is connecting East Asia and Europe through multimodal transportation corridors. For the land route of the Belt and Road Initiative, the connection is mainly realized by railroads, especially through the China-Europe Express Railways which currently link 16 Chinese cities with 12 cities in Europe and Asia. According to a recent development plan these railway lines will triple in the next few years. The paper tries to understand the implications of the prospect for a European city to open up a new railway link with China. The project tries to study the effects of the railway links on local economic development: including business, industry, FDI, tourism, and infrastructure.

Tao Liu

Principle Investigator

Kooperationsforschung zum chinesisch-deutschen Katastrophenrisikomanagement in der Landwirtschaft

Funded by the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE), 2016–2018

This project aims to compare the catastrophe management mechanisms in the agriculture of Germany and China through connecting with the theory of risk society and social protection. Furthermore, this project seeks to undertake explorative study to investigate to what extent the German experiences of the agricultural catastrophe management are able to be transferred to China.

Beate Löffler

(with Carola Hein, TU Delft, architecture, Jan van Gemert, TU Delft, computer science, Victor de Boer, VU Amsterdam, computer science, Dirk Schubert, HCU Hamburg, architecture)

ArchiMediaL. Developing Post-Colonial Interpretations of Built Form through Heterogeneous Linked Digital Media

Funded by Volkswagen-Stiftung, 2017–2020

The availability of extensive digital media creates important new challenges. The World Wide Web offers huge amounts of image material, that opens up new avenues for innovative investigation, including in the field of post-colonial and global studies. However, between repositories, big data, Wikipedia or Flickr, the connections between materials are getting lost. Metadata have to be added painstakingly and manually into the system – otherwise numerous sources will remain unexplored and closed to research. This is where the Dutch-German project starts: In cooperation between historians of architecture and urban form and computer scientists the project aims to develop new tools for automatic building recognition of architectures and their parts as available in inherently diverse digital media (plans, photos, models, etc.) and on the web. The computer side includes image recognition, deep learning, computer vision research, actual 3d datasets. Three interconnected pilot studies will be carried out: Global Ports and Waterfronts; Colonial Architecture; Japanese Architecture.

Nele Noesselt

Configurations of Governance and Development Paths in the Studies of Chinese Political Scientists

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 2014–2017

The internal policy debates of closed systems, such as the China (PRC), and the interplay between political leaders and political scientists are still an underresearched domain of Chinese politics. The analysis of Chinese politics is often restricted to the visible dimension of political actions and speech acts. The underlying considerations and reflections that shape the political decision-making process and guide political action are often neglected. The research project tries to overcome these lacunae by conducting a systematic analysis of Chinese political science debates on modes of governing and development paths of the PRC. Given the interrelation of political science and politics in the PRC, one could expect that these debates, first of all, fulfill a legitimating, confirmative function. However, a closer look at the current constellations shows that the Chinese political elites are well aware that reforms are necessary for the persistence and restabilization of the political system. Encouraged by the political authorities, Chinese political scientists have started to develop abstract ideas of political governance and economic development, which aim at a re-organization and (!) restabilization of one-party rule. They eclectically combine elements of Chinese traditions, observations of other political regimes and strategic calculations. Currently, the field of political science in China reminds one of hundred contending schools, it is no longer dominated by one single unified ideologically inspired research approach.The time frame under research can be subdivided into two periods: 2002–2012 (period in office of Hu Jintao) and 2012–2015 (the first years of the new administration). The project will identify the central themes and ideas that prevail in Chinese political science debates. Furthermore, it will investigate the factors and channels which catalyze the integration of these ideas into policymaking. Following a nested-design approach (Liebermann 2005), the analytical frame integrates elements of qualitative and quantitative analysis, process tracing and comparative approaches (Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis).The research project contributes to the basic understanding of modern Chinese political philosophy, the mechanisms of politics in contemporary China and learning processes of authoritarian regimes. It initiates a dialogue between Modern Chinese Studies and Political Science. The project has also implications for the sector of policy advice and political consultation: It outlines the central ideas of the political science debates that might guide and determine Chinese politics in the years to come.

http://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/ 238920157

Werner Pascha

(with Frank Rövekamp)

Regional Financial Safety Nets in East Asia and Europe

2014–2017; funded by Bank of Korea during 2014–2015

The East Asia Institute of the Ludwigshafen University of Applied Sciences (Prof. Dr. Frank Rövekamp), in cooperation with the IN-EAST of University of Duisburg-Essen (Prof. Dr. Werner Pascha), is engaged in a research project on behalf of the Bank of Korea, the South Korean central bank, on institutional mechanisms to secure international financial safety. On a global level, the International Monetary Fund, based in Washington D.C., has the mandate to handle such issues. However, the recent financial crisis in the Euro area and the Asian financial crisis of 1997/98 have shown that there is a demand for regional safety mechanisms as well. In the EU, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) has emerged on this background, whereas East Asian economies have created the so-called Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI). The collaborative project with the Bank of Korea has the goal of developing ideas to improve the structure and processes of such regional initiatives further. The project shall lead to one or two joint publications with Frank Rövekamp.

Werner Pascha

Current Issues of the Political Economies of Japan and Korea: Comparative Research

Funded by the Bertelsmann Foundation, 2009–2018

Werner Pascha is contributing to projects of the Bertelsmann Foundation that promise stringent comparisons between various countries, based on a rigorous and detailed analytical framework. As for Japan, the framework is given by the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project. It analyzes and compares the need for reform in OECD member countries, as well as their ability to respond to current social and political challenges. The project is designed to create a comprehensive data pool on government-related activities in the world’s developed, free-market democracies. With respect to South Korea, the framework is the Comparative Crisis Management project of Bertelsmann Foundation which intends to evaluate the capacities and abilities of the political management in selected developing and transition countries in response to the global financial and economic crisis. In 2014 it was agreed to continue with SGI reports until the 2018 report. Moreover, Werner Pascha was asked to contribute another report for the INCRA (International Non-Profit Credit Rating Agency) project of the Bertelsmann Foundation, Washington Office.

Helmut Schneider

Environmental Conflicts in Southeast Asia

Current research

In this research environmental conflicts are defined as conflicts in which environment or single natural elements (e.  g. water, land) play a crucial role. That does not necessarily mean, that such conflicts are also caused by e.g. environmental degradation (although sometimes this might be the case). It is assumed that environmental conflicts, as conflicts in general, can only be understood and solved, when their (social, cultural, economic and political) context is considered properly. A basic hypothesis is that environment and natural elements, as a rule, are functioning as threat multipliers rather than single causes of conflicts. And they do so in very different ways. Due to the already noticeable, more so the predicted effects of climate change and a growing interest of financial investors for natural resources it is assumed, that environmental conflicts in Southeast Asia will increase in the future in terms of numbers as well as degree.

Helmut Schneider

Spatial Aspects of Vietnamese-Chinese Links and Relations in Past and Present

Current research

Vietnam and China have a long history of political, socioeconomic and cultural influence and interference as well as competition. This is true until the present day. Space is a medium through which these relations work (e.g. borders, frontiers, transborder cultural spaces, territoral claims). And those relations also have a spatial impact. The research aims at clarifying the role of space in Sino-Vietnamese relations in past and present.

Karen Shire

Principle Investigator

Cross-Border Temporary Agency Work: The Construction of Markets and Transnational Regulation in International Comparison

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG SH/82/5-1, 2013–2016

In the months of the project at the end of 2016 and thereafter activities focussed on publication preparations and conference presentation. Together with colleagues from the research group on cross-border labour markets in the Institute of Sociology, Karen Shire edited a book on the topic, and contributed a paper from this specific project. Together with colleagues in Sociology, and partners at the Ruhr University Bochum, the participants developed a new collaborative research proposal about transnational labour, which they anticipate submitting for funding in the next academic year.

The project team led by Karen Shire included researchers Dr. Chih-Chieh Wang, Hannelore Mottweiler, Markus Tünte, and in Japan, Associate Professor Dr. Jun Imai, Hokkaido Unviersity and Dr. Steffen Heinrich, DIJ Tokyo.

www.uni-due.de/cross-temps/

Karen Shire

Study Group convened by Clemence Ledoux (Université de Nantes)

The Politics of Fiscal Welfare Markets

Funded by Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, 2016–2018

This study group, convened by Clemence Ledoux (Nantes) and funded by the HWK gathers leading European scholars on welfare state transformations. In addition to exchanging research, the group aims to develop a joint research project by 2018 on the role of tax credits and other fiscal mechanisms in shaping the “hidden welfare state” in Europe. See http://www.h-w-k.de/en/study-groups/the-politics-of-fiscal-welfare.html. The group presented their work at the Conference of Europeanists in Glasgow, July 2017.

Karen Shire

(with Prof. Rainer Schnell)

SOEP Innovation Panel Module on Household Use of Personal and Household Services

2015–2017

A module about household employment practices in relation to the outsourcing personal and household services was accepted and included for the 2015 Innovation Panel of Socio-Economic Panel. In 2016 the data became available, and two publications are currently under submission. The results were presented in research groups at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in February 2017 and at the Conference of Europeanists in Glasgow in July 2017.

Karen Shire

Collaboration, Principle Investigator Prof. Mari Osawa, Director, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo

Gendering the Resilience to Disasters and Crises – Japan and Germany in Comparison

JSPS Grants-in-aid for Basic Research (A), 2016–2018

The participants presented preliminary research at the European Association of Japanese Studies meetings in Lisbon, August 29 – September 2, 2017.

Karen Shire

Collaboration, Principle Investigator Prof. Ursula Mense-Petermann and Prof. Thomas Welskopp, University of Bielefeld

In Search of Global Labour

Funded by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), University of Bielefeld, 2017–2018

In 2016 the joint proposal with contributions from Karen Shire was accepted for funding by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF). In 2017 activities included preparations of five workshops planned during 2017–2018 and joint publications. During the next year, Karen Shire will be funded to spend several weeks every quarter at the ZiF to collaborate with the research group.

Markus Taube

The Institutional Foundations of Innovation in China

Current research

In recent years, innovation research has clearly shown that innovation-driven economic development relies on a broad foundation of benign cultural, social, political, and economic framework conditions. Institutions based in various social regimes must incentivize innovation creating behavior as well as the acceptance and diffusion of these very innovations in society. There exists no “one-fits-all” institutional set-up outlining the preconditions for successful innovation-driven development. Cultural idiosyncrasies, variations in the availability and costs of specific resources and competencies, specific goals of ruling elites etc. all lead to specific manifestations and combinations of institutions that in their totality promote innovation in varying intensity and on differing social and technological trajectories.

Against this background, China constitutes a highly interesting case study for the analysis of the institutional requirements as well as evolutionary genesis of innovation-driven economic development in a large non-Western society. After three decades of highly successful catching-up economic development based on the emulation of foreign institutions, business models and technologies, the Chinese economy has now reached a stage where it needs to foster more endogenous innovation in order to evade (relative) stagnation in what has become known as the “middle income trap”. This requires substantial alterations not only in the structural set-up and incentive systems governing the Chinese economy, but also in the fabric and underlying norms and values structuring society as well as the self-understanding of the political elite and its organization of political processes.

The Chinese business sector is already responding to the need for more endogenous innovation in all sectors and segments of the economy. By doing so, it is exerting pressure for changes in the social fabric. At the same time Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party appear to be highly committed to transforming the economic system and promoting an innovation-friendly institutional set-up – while upholding an unwavering claim to power. The Hayekian postulate according to which only free (democratic and market-based) societies can feature dynamic, innovation-driven development dynamics instantly comes to one’s mind as a “belief” of Western institutionalism and “Ordnungspolitik” that needs to be reflected upon in the Chinese context.

Markus Taube

The Chinese State-Business Nexus

Current research

When China joined the WTO in December 2001, it agreed that other countries, notably the European Union (EU) could continue to treat it as a “non-market economy” for the purposes of trade defense measures. The background to this special arrangement lay in the fact that at the turn of the century the Chinese economy was still in transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy based on scarcity prices and free competition. There neither existed a comprehensive set of institutions that could support comprehensive market exchanges in the economy, nor was the government willing and give up its claim to directly steer economic development of the economy, its sectors as well as its major firms.

In expectation of substantial progress of China’s transition towards a full-fledged market economy in the coming years, the Protocol of Accession of China to the WTO outlined that 15 years after its accession China’s status might be upgraded to a “market economy”. While China interpreted the wording of these paragraphs as guaranteeing it an automatic transition to “market economy” status, the EU upheld the position that China would have to demonstrate that it complies with the five criteria defining the “market economy” status. With all economic observers agreeing, that China did not fulfil these criteria (by a wide margin) at the end of 2016, the dispute focused on juridical exchanges on the existence of a guarantee or not. Eventually, the dispute was solved with some diplomatic genius that neither awarded China the status of a “market economy”, nor inflicted a massive loss of face to one of Europe’s most import trade partners and thereby might have provoked an open trade war. The solution found is to completely give up the differentiation between “market” and “non-market” economies – not only with regard to China, but all economies. Instead, for all trade defense measures the normal reference value will be the domestic prices. However, if significant distortions (e.g. caused by state interferences) affecting domestic prices can be shown to prevail, international benchmark prices can be used instead. In order to make this new mechanism operational, the European Commission is going to publish specific reports identifying such distortions in on an economy-wide or specific sector level. EU manufacturers can then refer to these reports in order to determine the basis for complaints and to calculate what the normal reference prices should be.

Research is being conducted in order to assess the degree to which Chinese industries are operating according to competition-based market standards or are subjected to market-distorting governmental interventions.

Markus Taube

Economic implications of the “Belt and Road Initiative”

Current research

A major impulse for economic development in the Eurasian continent as well as a restructuring of the global division of labour might be created with the unfolding of what has become known as the “One Belt, One Road” or “Belt and Road” initiative. Proposed by Chinese government in 2013 the initiative aims at creating a comprehensive network of transport corridors and an integrated industrial fabric spanning from China via the Middle East and Central Asia to Europe. In the course of this multilateral industrialization programme new regional and multilateral institutions that complement or compete with existing regional/global governance systems can be expected to evolve. Their shape as well as the concrete impact of the potentially emerging new regional value chains on global goods flows, investment activity, local as well as international labour markets, local and supra-national institution building, however, remains undetermined. The disruptive changes brought up by the “Belt and Road” initiative cannot result in a win-win for all parties, but will entail some a reorganization of absolute and relative wealth, income generation possibilities and economic as well as political power projection capacity. New research initiatives are required to better understand the parameters at play and identify potential local/regional/global development patterns.

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