China-Europe research centre opening in Copenhagen

The collaborative centre is hoped to allow European and Chinese researchers a better opportunity to study each other’s cultures

A unique Sino-European research centre, a collaboration between China’s Fudan University (FU) and the University of Copenhagen (KU), will open its doors on April 16.

The Fudan-Europe Center for Modern and Comparative China Studies, which will open in KU’s Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), will provide European and Chinese researchers with a better opportunity to study each others' social, political and economic systems.

“The University of Copenhagen has strategically invested in research on Asia over many years,” KU's rector, Ralf Hemmingsen, stated in a press release. “The new centre will considerably strengthen the university’s research and give us a prominent position in Europe within this broad and important field.”

While research collaborations between Europe and China has traditionally focused on the natural sciences, the Fudan Centre will instead focus on political and social issues.

FU's rector, Yang Yuliang, argues that this humanities-based collaborative research may provide Chinese and European researchers with new and novel insights.

“We hope that the centre will function as both a bridge and a platform for the exchange of views between European and Chinese researchers,” Yang stated in a press release.

The centre will have two directors: Geir Helgesen, who was appointed by KU, and Liu Chunrong, who was appointed by FU.

According to Helgesen, China is particularly interested in the Nordic welfare model.

“China has been studying our collective welfare systems in the Nordics for a long time, but now China is also looking more broadly at the classic Nordic social institutions, not least the underlying political culture,” Helgesen said.

The higher education minister, Morten Østergaard (Radikale), welcomed the centre, saying that it will also help develop Danish business interests.

“Our knowledge about China and the Chinese culture is important both for Danish knowledge and learning environments and Danish businesses and exports,” Østergaard stated in a press release. “That’s why it is really great that our researchers and students are given the opportunity to closely follow China. It is also positive that China develops a better understanding for European culture.”

According to Politiken newspaper, this marks only the second time that a Chinese university has established a centre abroad.