My Summer in Beijing
When I told people that I was planning to travel to China for the first time since the pandemic, many strongly warned me against it. Many European academics have become extremely reticent to visit China, as they fear for their personal safety, in the light of new catch-all legislation on espionage. And everyone remembers the unfortunate case of “The Two Michaels”: Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained from December 2018 to September 2021 after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of its founder, in Canada. I must confess that after a while this did get under my skin. But in the end, I went for 16 days in July, to teach my course on the EU and great power politics at the Renmin University of China in Beijing – and I had a most fruitful stay, speaking with dozens of Chinese colleagues in the think-tanks and universities. After an interruption of three years without face-to-face contact, they were incredibly eager to talk. I conclude that we must definitely resume travel, in both directions, or mutual understanding will degrade very fast.
(Photo credit: Aberu Biscop)