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Area studies to boost China's detailed policies

By Zhang Zhouxiang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-18 14:21

The vice president of German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) has confirmed area studies, as an emerging field of research, could help China to better make detailed policies when dealing with each of its partners in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Patrick Koellner said area studies specifically meant research on topics, which are meaningful beyond a particular world region, and are relevant both in academia and policy-making.

"It is also a huge opportunity for specialists of the research field to make greater contributions to the country in its efforts of gaining global influence," he said.

"Especially, area studies of particular countries could help promote bilateral mutual understanding".

Koellner's comments were made at a joint academic workshop, held between the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) and GIGA, in Beijing on Saturday. The title of the workshop was Area Studies: From Academic Knowledge Production to Policy Relevance. It was co-sponsored by the university's Young Faculty Research Fund and GIGA, and designed to promote discussions in the role area studies could play in policy-making and how it could help China to gain more global influence.

Being located in Hamburg, GIGA has been known for its studies of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as cross-regional and global topics.

Koellner also added area studies meant studying each of the world's regions, namely its culture, history and characteristics of its people.

Wu Jiang, associate professor at the German Department of BFSU, who hosted the meeting, said the meaning of area studies for the Belt and Road Initiative could never be overestimated.

"We need a deeper understanding, not only of the world as a whole but also of the nations' we hope to co-work with," she said.

She was echoed by Jia Wenjian, vice president of BFSU, who added area studies helped to promote the mutual understanding of multiple cultures.

"Area studies are really important for promoting the mutual understanding of multiple cultures," he said at the workshop.

"That's why we take area studies as one of our top priorities in BFSU."

Zhou Hong, Deputy Chair of the Academic Division for International Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said area studies played a major role in China's reform and opening-up policy. Having retrospect in the 1980s, she added how Chinese scholars made thorough studies of European countries, one by one, when establishing diplomatic relationships with them.

zhangzhouxiang@chinadaily.com.cn

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