IZO Events

"True love or a political marriage of convenience? China-Russia relations in light of the Ukraine war"

As we are approaching the end of the summer semester, the IZO is looking forward to our last event before the summer break: On 19 July, 18.30-19.45 CET,  Marina Rudyak will join Maria Repnikova and Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova to look behind the curtains of the China-Russia partnership, which has been repeatedly celebrated diplomatically over the past months.

The entire online event was recorded and is available on Youtube.


China and Russia have declared a friendship “without limits" and with “no forbidden areas". Chinese official rhetoric appears largely supportive of the Russian legitimisation of the war on Ukraine. But does China really support Russia unconditionally? What can we read between the lines, and how are Russia and the Russian-Ukrainian war discussed in inner-Chinese spaces (in Chinese, not directed at foreigners?) And what role is there to play for Europe?

The IZO is glad to host a virtual conversation on these questions between IZO member Marina Rudyak (Goethe University Frankfurt/Heidelberg University), Maria Repnikova (Georgia State University) and Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova (Riga Stradins University). While observing China-Russia relations from Western Europe, the United States and Eastern Europe, respectively, what all three have in common is that they were born in the former Soviet Union. Their knowledge of both Chinese and Russian political discourses gives them a rare and unique perspective on analysing current China-Russia dynamics.

About the speakers

Maria Repnikova is an Associate Professor in Global Communication at Georgia State University. Her research focuses on China's political communication, Chinese soft power, China-Africa relations and China-Russia comparisons. She is the author of two books, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism (2017) and Chinese Soft Power (2022). Since the eruption of the Russia-Ukraine war, she has been a regular commentator on China-Russia relations.

Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova is a political scientist, China scholar, Head of Riga Stradins University China Studies Centre and Head of the Asia program at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. Her research focuses on PRC political discourse, contemporary Chinese ideology, EU-China relations, as well as Belt and Road and other transcontinental interconnectivity initiatives. She is the author of the book Perfect Imbalance: China and Russia (2022).

Marina Rudyak is an Interim Professor for Chinese Politics at Goethe University Frankfurt and Assistant Professor for Chinese Cultural Studies at Heidelberg University. Her research focuses on China's international development cooperation and the Chinese foreign policy discourse. Her 2020 completed doctoral Dissertation Becoming a Donor traced the formation of China's foreign aid policy. She is the co-creator of the Decoding China Dictionary.


The discussion will take place virtually via Zoom. We kindly ask for registration in advance.

Image credit: Reuters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet in Denpasar, Indonesia (G20, July 5, 2022)

MA Modern East Asian Studies

For further information, please see our website ( or join us on 28 June.

IZO Events

On 19 May 2022, two outstanding voices of the Chinese-language exile community, Yan Geling and Yang Lian, visited Goethe University Frankfurt as part of the event "The Moral Duties of Art - Chinese Literary Exile in Germany" hosted by the IZO.

Moderated by Prof. Dr. Yang Zhiyi, the Berlin-based novelist and screenwriter Yan Geling discussed with the poet Yang Lian, who has already been living in self-imposed exile since 1989. In front of a large audience of over 170 interested guests, including many members of the Chinese diaspora in Germany, both artists explained their break with the Chinese regime and talked about traumatic experiences in their own past and their influence on their respective artistic work.

While Yan was a respected and widely read author in China for many years, her criticism of the Chinese regime led to a de facto ban on her new book after the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. During the event in Frankfurt, Yan described her doubts before publishing the critical article, combined with the fear that her life would change drastically and she would become persona non grata in China. Nevertheless, she ultimately decided to publish the article, which in the end led to a de facto erasure of her person on the Chinese internet.

Following these accounts, both personal and political, Yan and her husband Lawrence Walker read excerpts from Yan Geling's work in the original Chinese and translation. Yang Lian entertained the audience with several of his poems, including one about his adopted home of Berlin and a very topical poem about his current residence in Frankfurt, which questions Theodor Adorno's attitude to poetry after Auschwitz.  Afterwards, the audience had the opportunity to ask the artists questions in German, Chinese and English. The audience was interested in both the artistic activities of the panellists and their assessments of the political and social climate in China.

The complete recording of the event on 19 May 2022 can be found here on Youtube.

Deutsche Welle also reported in detail (in Chinese) about the event. You can find the link here.

Image Credits: Peng Guo

IZO Events

To write or not to write a poem after Auschwitz — that is not the question. The real question is how, so that art avoids falling victim to cultural barbarism. This question is particularly pertinent today to Chinese writers and artists, when the Chinese regime, an authoritarian world power, also styles itself as the custodian and patron of Chinese culture, with a lucrative and growing cultural market at its disposal. In this moderated dialogue, YAN Geling and YANG Lian, two distinguished Chinese authors living in Berlin, will answer questions about art, truth, power, and market. Yan Geling, a writer who consistently explores historical atrocities like the Nanjing Massacre or the Cultural Revolution in her novels, has also seen many of her works adapted into feature films with great commercial success. Through her fiction and essays, she investigates the human nature underlying the behavior of the Chinese regime. Yang Lian, a poet living mostly in self-imposed exile since 1989, whose works having entered the global scene of “World Literature," is also one of the most celebrated poets in mainland China. How do they perceive the moral duties of art? What do they think of literary exiles or those who choose to live in inner banishment? How do their works respond to the crises of our times, in China and beyond? The dialogue will be moderated by Prof. Zhiyi Yang (Sinology). The two authors will also read their works and take questions from the audience. The event is organized by the Interdisciplinary Center for East Asian Studies (IZO).

Date: 19 May 2022

Time: 6.15 – 7.45 p.m., followed by a small reception in the foyer

Place: Goethe University Frankfurt, Casino Building, R. 1811, Nina-Rubinstein-Weg 1

Please register for the talk and reception via e-mail to by 15 May at the latest.

IZO Events

On May 5th, the IZO is organizing a guest lecture on the following topic by Prof. Dr. Marta Hanson: "Understanding is Within One's Grasp, The World Within the Hands in the Classified Canon, 1624".

By the early sixteenth century, some physicians considered the most important medical canon of Han antiquity, the Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon: Basic Questions (Huangdi neijing: suwen, ca. 1st BCE), to be in a state of crisis. Many of their contemporary physicians found it too archaic, inaccessible, and impractical to use. Many self-proclaimed healers favored more recent medical texts that private publishing had made more widely available, easier to read, and more practical for healing. The literati physician Zhang Jiebin 張介賓 (1563–1640) participated in the broader trend “to recover antiquity" (fugu 復古) by reorganizing the original Inner Canon, providing many illustrations, and adding explanations. The resulting Classified Canon, Illustrated with Commentary (Leijing tu yi 類經圖翼, 1624) also used many popularizing genres – diagrams, short essays, versified didactic poems, illustrations, and even the healer's own hand as a mnemonic tool. Dr. Zhang's amply illustrated, often versified, clearly explained, completely reorganized, and even, in part, embodied Classified Canon is best understood as one late-Ming literati physician's response to this perceived crisis. In fact, this Classified Canon was so successful among physicians in China that Jesuits used it as the source text for the first Latin translations of Chinese conceptions of the viscera and channels of the human body published in the Specimen Medicinae Sinicae (A Sample of Chinese Medicine) in 1682 in Frankfurt, Germany. 

Time: 05. 05. 2022 – 18:00

Place: Seminarhaus 0.106


May 2 2022

IZO Fellowship

The IZO welcomes YANG Lian as the new IZO Fellow

In May 2022, the IZO is proud to host YANG Lian 杨炼 as a fellow who will enrich the centre's ongoing work on canonisation and innovation in East Asia. Born in 1955 in Bern, Yang began writing when he was sent to the countryside in the 1970s. In the 1980s, hebecame well-known inside and outside of China as a member of the now canonized “Misty"School of poetry. He was invited to visit Australia
and New Zealand in 1988 and next year, he became a poet in exile and started his globaljourney. Throughout the years, his literary writing, as well as his outspoken voice, has been calledas a highly individual voice in world literature, politics and culture. His poems have been translated into more than twenty languages and have won dozens of international prizes. 

Image Credits: Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 

IZO Events

This online lecture series gives an insight into the diversity of recently published monographs from the international Korean studies and enables direct exchange with authors who are otherwise often considered 'unapproachable'. They will present their own research and are available for questions, comments and discussion after their 45-minute presentation.

02-05-2022 – 16:00 o'clock
'Language and truth in North Korea'
by Sonia Ryang

16-05-2022 – 16:00 o'clock
'Invincible and Righteous Outlaw: The Korean Hero Hong Gildong in Literature, History and Culture'
by Minsoo Kang

30-05-2022 – 16:00 o'clock
'Korean Digital Diaspora'
by Hojeong Lee

13-06-2022 – 14:00 o'clock
'Korean Food, Television and the Korean Nation'
by Jaehyeon Jeong

Please register for Zoom via this link:

MA Modern East Asian Studies

The application period for the MA programme Modern East Asian Studies (MEAS) starts on 1 April. The application deadline is 15 August. If you did your BA abroad, we recommend applying by 15 July at the latest.

If you are interested in applying for the programme, check out the more detailed information about entry requirements, application documents and the application process in the Admissions section of the MEAS website.  Should you have further questions, please contact the MEAS programme coordinator, Mirjam Tröster.

MA Modern East Asian Studies

Mar 25 2022

MEAS Alumni Database

Have you graduated from the master's programme Modern East Asian Studies (MEAS) and would like to stay in touch with your former fellow students?

Alumni can now register for the newly established MEAS Alumni Database! We will then send you emails informing you about activities hosted by the programme and its students that are of potential interest to MEAS alumni.

If you would like to be included in the MEAS Alumni Database, please write an email to Ms Kiradjieva.

MA Modern East Asian Studies

Are you passionate about East Asia and consider to apply for a master's programme that combines both language training and research-orientated lectures and seminars from a broad range of disciplines?

Then check out the new website of IZO's MA programme Modern East Asian Studies (MEAS): There you will find everything you need to know about the programme, including application and admissions.