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The relationship between China and the West is characterized by deepening alienation – just at a time when human minds need to work together to help overcome global challenges. Our panelists will discuss how young and educated Chinese can build bridges.

Following decades of ever-deepening economic, academic and political cooperation and interdependence with China, recent years have been characterized by growing alienation and increasing talk of a new East-West divide. But just as the deepening of ties starting in the 1970s and 1980s was not inevitable, neither is a new Cold War. These large-scale developments always depend on and are shaped by the action of billions of individual people. And there are few demographics as influential as the young and educated generation of Chinese.

In 2020, Xiang Biao, director of the Max Planck institute, published a series of three conversations with Chinese journalist Wu Qi exploring what China was, is, and may become in the future. This book took the country by storm, because it articulated an experience that so many young Chinese shared. Palgrave published the English translation Self as Method last year in Open Access, which has reached over 200,000 readers to date.

To build on this insightful book, we have invited Xiang Biao to a new dialogue with Xifan Yang, China correspondent of German weekly Die Zeit, and Anna Lisa Ahlers, the leader of the Lise-Meitner-Research Group “China in the global academic system”. The panel will be completed by Niels Peter Thomas, President Greater China & Managing Director Books at Springer Nature.

The panelists will explore the role that Chinese students, researchers and intellectuals play in European research institutions and civil society, and how they can navigate the idiosyncrasies of systems and cultures to help mend the divide East and West.

Moderation: Arend Küster, Director Academic Affairs at Springer Nature.

Author event


Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1
60327 Frankfurt am Main

Springer Nature
Free access


Dr. Xiang Biao

Director, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Xifan Yang

Journalist, DIE ZEIT, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, NZZ and other German language media

Dr. Anna Lisa Ahlers

Founder and Head of , Lise Meitner Research Group China in the Global System of Science, MPI History of Science

Dr. Niels Peter Thomas

Greater China & Managing Director Books, Springer Nature

Arend Küster

Director Academic Affairs, Springer Nature