Bringing Europe and China closer together

Encouraging dialogue between China and Europe
18 Jan 2011 14:31:00.000


The University of Nottingham has been awarded €1m to promote dialogue between Europe and China.

A new initiative will bring together experts from 10 organisations to foster cultural exchange and debate on issues such as climate change, social entrepreneurship, freedom of information and environmental health.

The EU-China Civil Society Dialogue on Participatory Public Policy, to be established by The University of Nottingham, will build long-term links between European and Chinese universities, research institutes, non-profit organisations and advocacy groups.

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Funding for the two-year project has been awarded by the European Commission.

The University’s School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, through its thinktank the China Policy Institute (CPI), will foster links in eight policy areas:

- Climate change and corporate social responsibility
- Environmental health
- Labour relations
- Community building and service provision for vulnerable groups
- Social innovation and social entrepreneurship
- Participatory public policy and freedom of information
- Government finance reform
- Civil society and the rule of law

The University has taken a pioneering role in China, as the first overseas academic institution granted permission to set up inside the People's Republic. Since opening in 2004, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, has grown to more than 4,000 students and has received numerous awards and accolades.

Dr Andreas Fulda, Programme Manager in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, said: “We believe that intercultural dialogues are more likely to promote policy change when participants in our eight EU-China Civil Society Dialogues can engage in conference-based learning and apply their new knowledge in follow-up activities.

“Our dialogue program allows European and Chinese participants to identify areas of common interest, followed by the design of joint follow-up activities which improve public participation at one or more phases of the experimentation-based Chinese policy cycle.”

Both sides have a declared an interest in greater dialogue and cultural exchange. According to the European Commission, ‘Europe has a major economic and political interest in supporting China’s sustainable development and successful transition to a stable, prosperous and open country’.

In China’s EU Policy Paper, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic states its objective ‘to expand China-EU cultural and people exchanges under the principle of mutual emulation, common prosperity and complementarity, and promote cultural harmony and progress between the East and West’.

Professor Shujie Yao, Head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at The University of Nottingham, said: “I am pleased that this is one of several large research and network building grants SCCS has won from the EU over the last two years. I am excited that the School and its CPI has emerged to become a leading China Studies centre in the UK and Europe. This and other major EU grants will help the School onto a much higher level in terms of research and impact.”

All partners of the consortium have specific expertise in substantive policy fields and include target groups such as community-based organisations, consumers, disabled, educational organisations, local authorities, migrants, non-governmental organisations, women, and young people in their work. They reach out to final beneficiaries such as reform-minded groups, civil society practitioners, public intellectuals, educators, journalists, lawyers, community residents and rural migrants.

Nottingham is coordinating a 10-member consortium which includes research institutes, universities, and non-profit organisations:

- The China Centre for Comparative Politics and Economics, one of the research institutes affiliated with the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
- The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, the first Sino-Foreign University in China with approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education.
- The Institute for Civil Society at the Sun Yat-sen University, a non-profit organisation engaged in research, experiment and advocacy.
- Shining Stone Community Action, a non-profit civil society organisation dedicated to the promotion of a participatory approach to community governance.
- The World and China Institute, an independent non-government, non-profit research institute dedicated to the mutual understanding of the world and China.
- The NGO Research Center at the School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, the first research center on NGOs in China.
- The School of Contemporary Chinese Studies and its think tank China Policy Institute at The University of Nottingham.
- The Great Britain-China Centre, a non-profit organisation which promotes mutual understanding between the UK and China and aims to build long-term connections between decision-makers in the two countries.
- The Global Links Initiative, a non-profit organisation which aims to foster practical links among social entrepreneurial people around the world.
- The German Asia Foundation which aims to promote a dialogue with Asian countries and Asian people living in Germany.

Expert facilitators from Leadership Inc, a consultancy based in China, will bring the partners together to design and work out realistic initiatives for civil society participation in public policy, tested and implemented in a local area after each of the eight EU-China Civil Society Dialogues.

Wu Baiyi, Professor at the Institute of European Studies (IES) said: “China and EU should add more substance to their political ties. While overcoming institutional and ethical differences, both need to deepen their mutual confidence by building a multi-tier political dialogue to bridge the gaps not only between top leaders, but also among grassroots level officials, non-government activists and the general public.”

Project information will be made available on the website as well as on individual websites of consortium partners.

— Ends — 

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at:

Facts and figures at:

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Andreas Fulda, Programme Manager, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 846 6972,; Professor Shujie Yao, Head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 846 6179
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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