Academic Coordinator

Dr. Bertram Lang

Since June 2021, Bertram Lang serves as academic coordinator of the IZO while also coordinating the research project Cultural Entrepreneurship and Digital Transformation in Africa and Asia (CEDITRAA). Prior to that, he was a research associate at the Chair for Political Science with a Focus on Chinese and East Asian Area Studies (Prof. Heike Holbig). His PhD project examines the internationalisation process of Chinesische philanthropy from a perspective of transnational multi-level legitimation strategies. His research interests also include EU-China relations, civil society and sustainable trade policy, as well as the politics of corruption and anti-corruption.

Building on his prior experience as a research associate and policy advisor at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics), Bertram has been working as a China strategy advisor for European policy-makers, NGOs and risk consultancies. His comments have appeared in Internationale Politik Quarterly, the New York Times, FAZ and NZZ, among others.

Professional Experience

Since 11/2023 Georg-August-University Göttingen: Interim Professor for the Economy and Society of China
Since 06/2021 Goethe University Frankfurt/Main: Academic Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Centre for East Asian Studies (IZO)
09/2017 – 05/2021 Goethe University Frankfurt/Main: Lecturer & Doctoral Student in Political Science
PhD topic: Chinese philanthropy internationalisation
12/2015 – 08/2017 Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter / Research Associate in der European China Policy Unit, Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics), Berlin
07/2015 – 11/2015 Hospitant im Zentralbereich (Projektmanagement), Robert Bosch Stiftung, Stuttgart
2010 – 2014 Praktika im Europäischen Parlament (Brüssel/Straßburg), bei der Delegation der Europäischen Union in China (Beijing), bei der NGO Wanra Do (Banikoara, Benin) und bei Transparency International (Lissabon)

Academic Career

09/2014 – 06/2015 College of Europe: Postgraduate Porgramme in „EU International Relations and Diplomacy“, M.A.,  (first honours)
09/2011 – 08/2014 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau and Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence (France): French-German Master's Programme „Applied Political Science“ (M.A.)
09/2013 – 06/2014 Université d'Aix-Marseille (France): „Licence 3“ (~ B.A.) in Sinology („Langue, littérature et civilisation chinoises“)
09/2012 – 02/2013 Nanjing University (China): Advanced Chinese Studies
09/2008 – 08/2011 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau and Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence (France): French-German Bachelor's Programme  „Applied Political Science“ (B.A.) 

Scholarships and Awards

Since 2021 Member of Transparency International's Anti-Corruption Knowledge Hub Expert Network
2015 College of Europe International Relations Department Laureate 2015
2008 – 2015 German Academic Scholarship Foundation: Scholarship for academic excellence
2014 – 2015 College of Europe Scholarship of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
2012 – 2013 Alfried Krupp Stiftung: “China Scholarship Programme" for a one-year stay in China
2008 – 2014 French-German University scholarship (DFH)

Research Areas

Global China, philanthropy and civil society, EU-China relations, anti-corruption und governance

Teaching Experience

Summer Term 2022 Master Seminar The Politics of Corruption and Anti-Corruption in East Asia
Summer Term 2022 MEAS Course Online Databases and Research Tools for Modern East Asian Studies
Winter Term 2021/22 Master Seminar Civil Society and Philanthropy in East Asia
Summer 2021 Master Seminar China and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda
Winter 2020/21 Master Seminar Civil Society and Philanthropy in East Asia
Winter Term 2020/21 Seminar Krisen, Konflikte und Kooperationen in Ostasien
Summer Term 2020 Master Seminar China's International Development Policies
Winter Term 2019/20 Master Seminar "Civil Society and Philanthropy in East Asia"
Winter Term 2019/20 Seminar Politics in East Asia
Winter Term 2019/20 MEAS Core Lecture State-Society Relations in Greater China
Summer Term 2019 Master Seminar Good Governance vs. Win-win cooperation? Western and Chinese development policies in East Asia
Winter Term 2018/19 Master Seminar Political Science Approaches to the Study of Contemporary East Asia
Winter Term 2017/18 Master Seminar Introduction to the Politics of East Asia (M.A. MEAS)
Winter Term 2015/16

Seminar Landeskunde Greater China (Universität Tübingen, mit Franziska Plümmer)


Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

2021 (with H. Holbig) "China's Overseas NGO Law and the Future of International Civil Society: A Scenario Analysis of Rules-in-Form versus Rules-in-Use Dynamics", in: Journal of Contemporary Asia,
2021 "Framing and Localizing Anti-Corruption Norms in Transnational Civil Society Organisations: Transparency International in Portugal", in: Journal of Civil Society, 17:2, 155-178,
2019 "Anpassung, Einhegung, Aneignung: Chinesische Strategien im Umgang mit internationalen Normen und Akteuren der  Zivilgesellschaft" [Adaptation, Domestication, Appropriation: Chinese Strategies Towards International Civil Society Norms and Actors], in: ASIEN, 152/153 (July/October 2019), 24-48.
2018 "Authoritarian Learning in China's Civil Society Regulations: Towards a Multi-Level Framework", in: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 47:3, 147–186.
2018 "China's anti-graft campaign and international anti-corruption norms: Towards a 'new international anti-corruption order'?", in: Crime, Law and Social Change, 70:3, 331–347.

Book Chapters

2022"China's 'Anti-Corruption' Campaign Under Xi Jinping: Framing Catastrophe and Catharsis in a Never-Ending Crisis", in: Jörg Baberowski & Martin Wagner (eds.): Crises in authoritarian regimes, Campus: Frankfurt/New York. [Research material available on OSF]
2022"La participation à la chinoise: Néo-maoïsme, « société civile » et politique étrangère" [Participation with Chinese Characteristics: Neo-Maoism, 'Civil Society' and Foreign Policy], in: Philippe Aldrin & Nathalie Ferré (eds.): La société civile au travail. Le professionnalisme irrésolu de l'action transnationale, Presses Universitaires d'Aix-Marseille, 47-74.

Other Publications

2022 (with Marina Rudyak) "Cooperation with Chinese actors on anti-corruption: Environmental governance as a pilot area". Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2022:2), available online.
2021 "Addressing the Civil Society Blind Spot in European China Policy. From the Overseas NGO Law to the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment", Study for The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, Brussels, 08/12/2021, available online.

“Middle-Power Multilateralism Needed", in: Internationale Politik Quarterly, Fall 2021 Issue: Europe Eyes the Indo-Pacific, Issue #4/2021.

2021 “What Europe Thinks About Dealing with China", in: Internationale Politik Quarterly, Spring 2021 Issue: The EU-US-China Triangle.
2021 (with Marina Rudyak) "Globale öffentliche Güter erfordern Prinzipientreue und Kooperationsbereitschaft in der europäischen Chinapolitik" [Global Public Goods Require Both Principles and Readiness to Cooperation in European China Policy], Bertelsmann Stiftung, publication series Deutschland und Asien, 29/03/2021.
2021 "Shielding Corporate Interests, Europe Leaves NGOs Working in China by the Wayside", ChinaFile, The China NGO Project, 30/03/2021.
2021 "On the Way to the (East) Asian Century", Internationale Politik Quarterly, IP Special, 02-2021, 25-31.
2020 “A Better China Strategy for International Civil Society", China File, 29/01/2020.
2019 “Strengthening the adaptive and collaborative capacity of internationally-operating civil society organisations (ICSOs) related to the rise of China", Civil Society Sector Guide #1, ed. by International Civil Society Centre, Berlin, November 2019.
2019 "China and global integrity-building: Challenges and prospects for engagement", U4 Issue 2019/7, ed. by David Jackson, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen (Norway);
2018 “Risk Report. Political Risk Scenarios for China", ed. by CONIAS Risk Intelligence and Funk Stiftung, Serie Risk Reports 2018, July 2018,


(with Heike Holbig) “Civil Society Work in China: Trade-Offs and Opportunities for European NGOs", GIGA Focus Asia, 6/2018,
2018 (with Mareike Ohlberg, Shazeda Ahmed) “Central Planning, Local Experiments. The Complex Implementation of China's Social Credit System", MERICS China Monitor 43, Mercator Institute for China Studies.
2018 “Analysis: Why Has the Chinese Foreign NGO Law Become a Non-Issue in Europe?", The China NGO Project, ChinaFile,  03/01/2018
2017 “What Macron could mean for European China policy", MERICS Blog, 15/06/2017
2017 (with Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlberg, Simon Lang) “Ideas and Ideologies Competing for China's Political Future. How online pluralism challenges official orthodoxy", MERICS Paper on China N° 5, Mercator Institute for China Studies, October 2017, Berlin.
2017 “Engaging China in the fight against transnational bribery: 'Operation Skynet' as a new opportunity for OECD countries", OECD ResearchEdge Series, March 2017, Paris.
2017 “After Trump, French presidential candidates vow to protect workers from global trade - and China", MERICS Blog, 16/02/2017.
2017 (with Thomas Eder, Moritz Rudolf) “China's Global Law Enforcement Drive: The Need for a European Response", MERICS China Monitor 36, January 2017.
2016 (with Jan Gaspers) “Germany and the 'Belt and Road' Initiative", in: Frans-Paul v.d. Putten et al. (eds.): Europe and China's New Silk Roads. A Report by the European Think-tank Network on China, December 2016, 24-29.
2016 “EU struggles to build up ASEAN as a counterweight to China", MERICS Blog, 28/10/2016.
2016 (with Jasmin Gong, Kristin Shi-Kupfer) “Questioning not the EU, but the 'Western system': European crises through the lens of Chinese media", MERICS China Monitor 33, July 2016.
2016 “Western NGOs in China: not trusted, but still needed", MERICS Blog, 06/05/2016.
2016 (with Jan Gaspers) “China and EU Strategic Thinking on Asia: Towards a Strategic Slim Down", in: Olivia Gippner (ed.): Changing waters. Towards a new EU Asia Strategy, LSE Special Report 21, April 2016, 38-48.
2016 “China's new Charity Law, a 'Made in China 2025' strategy for philanthropy", MERICS Blog, 18/03/2016.
2015 “Taiwanese Lobbying in the European Union: 'Workable Diplomacy' and its Limitations", in: EU Diplomacy Papers, 8/2015.
2015 “The Prospective EU-China Bilateral Investment Treaty: Wider Regional Implications in East and Southeast Asia", in: EU-China Observer, 3/2015, 11-15.
2015 (with Chen Yunnan) “East meets West: Why a coordinated EU policy for the 'One Belt One Road' initiative is much needed", in: MERICS Insights – Young European Perspectives on China, Mercator Institute for China Studies, Berlin, 35-37.
2014 “La genèse d'un « militantisme académique » contre la corruption. Conditions de possibilité et stratégies de l'implantation locale de Transparency International au Portugal", Master's Thesis, Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence, September 2014.
2012 Chinas interne und externe Entwicklungspolitik: Auf der Suche nach einem ‚chinesischen Entwicklungsparadigma' [China's Internal and External Development Policy: In Search of a 'Chinese Development Paradigm'], Munich: GRIN Verlag.


Academic Conferences and Workshops

Mar 2021 “Asienwissenschaften in der Relevanzfalle? Wege zu größerer gesellschaftlicher Wirksamkeit", Panel at the 2021 DGA Conference, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, co-hosted with Marina Rudyak, 12/03/2021.
Jan 2021  “Text-Mining Xi's 'Anti-Corruption' Campaign", Presentation at Princeton-Humboldt University Workshop on Crises in Authoritarian Regimes (Jörg Baberowski & Martin Wagner), 28/01/2021.
Dec 2018 “Restraining, Replacing, Reorienting? The Contested Role of International Non-Profit Organisations in China" (约束,取代,还是重新定位?国际公益组织在中国的具有争议性的角色), Sino-German Conference Good Life, State and Society, Freie Universität Berlin, 08/12/2018 (withHeike Holbig).
Dec 2018 “The party leads, the people follow? Understanding the internationalisation of China's non-profit sector", International Workshop “Voices of East Asia 2.0", Ruhr-Universität Bochum,06/12/2018
Sep 2018 “China's Foreign Policy and Civil Society Spaces Abroad", Congress of the German Political Science Association (GPSA) 2018, Frankfurt, 27/09/2018.
Aug 2018 “China's new civil society regulations: gauging the role of authoritarian diffusion and international versus domestic learning", European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference, Hamburg, 24/08/2018.
Jun 2017 “China's anti-graft campaign and international norms: Towards a ‚new international anti-corruption order'?", International Corruption Research Forum, Paris, 15/06/2017.
Feb 2017 “The ideological battle for China's future. The role of 'the West' in official and unofficial political debates", Merics International Academic Workshop on Chinese Ideology, Berlin, 23/02/2017 (with Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlberg, Simon Lang).
Jun 2016 „Offene Konflikte als ‚neue Normalität' in den EU-China-Beziehungen?“, Tübingen University, 30/06/2016.
Jun 2016 “Le militantisme académique contre la corruption. Nouvelles dynamiques de l'engagement", Congrès annuel de l'Association française de Science Politique, Aix-en-Provence, 06/2015.
Aug 2015 “Lobbying regulation: beyond trading in influence and conflict of interest", Annual Conference on Corruption and Political Misconduct, University of Sussex, Brighton, 08/2015 (with Luís de Sousa und Susana Coroado).
Sep 2014 “The social psychology of corruption and its implications for law-making", Workshop The Economics of Corruption 2014: Seeking the Nudges for Reform an der Universität Passau, 09/2014.

Public Outreach

Dec 2021 Webinar on Civil Society in EU China Policy in the Context of the EU China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, with Reinhard Bütikofer, MEP, and Christina Sadeler, Brussels, 08/12/2021, available online.
Mar 2021 “Konflikt und Kooperation: Zur Zukunft zivilgesellschaftlicher Arbeit in und mit China", Online Talk, University Trier / Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, 11/03/2021.
Dec 2020 “Exploring cooperation with Chinese actors on transparency and accountability in the pilot area of environmental governance", U4 Workshop for Chinese/European development professionals, co-hosted with Marina Rudyak, 09/12/2020.
Jan 2020  “China's global impact on civil society", Bosch Alumni Centre, Berlin, 16/01/2020.
Oct 2019  “Strengthening civil society cooperation between China and Europe", EU-China NGO Twinning Programme, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Berlin, 18/10/2019.
Sep 2019 “社会影响"需求对NGO的挑战与机遇 —— 来自欧洲的经验"  (Social Impact Requirements as Challenge and Opportunity for NGOs - Lessons from Europe), China Global Philanthropy Institute, Shenzhen, 24/09/2019.
Jun 2019 “Mapping the entry-points for engaging China in developing countries", U4 Development Partner Forum, Bergen, 17/06/2019.
Jun 2019 Lead researcher, NGO Conference “International civil society and global China", International Civil Society Centre, Hong Kong, 11-13/06/2019.
Dec 2018 “The international implications of China's social credit ratings", European Parliament, S&D Digital Europe Working Group Conference on Digital Human Rights in China, Brussels, 05/12/2018.
Oct 2018 “China and Global Integrity-building: Prospects for Engagement?", International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), Copenhagen, 23/10/2018.
Oct 2018 “Shrinking Civic Space: How It Plays Out in Asia and How We Should Deal with It", GIGA Berlin Talk with Patrick Köllner, Berlin, 04/10/2018.
Sep 2018 “欧洲公益慈善文化差异对社会合作的影响" [Different philanthropic cultures in Europe and their implications for civil society cooperation within the EU], China Global Philanthropy Institute, Beijing, 12/09/2018.
Sep 2017 “计划、测定、改善社会影响 – 社会公益团体所面临的要求和挑战" [Planning, Measuring, Improving Social Impact], Jingshi Philanthropy Lecture, China Philanthropy Research Institute, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 15/09/2017.
Sep 2017 “Assessing Philanthropy's Impact? Some reflections on the necessity and limitations of evaluating charitable activities and advocacy work", Vortrag beim Philanthropic Leadership Platform – China-Europe, China Global Philanthropy Institute, Stiftung Mercator & European Foundation Centre, Beijing, 13/09/2017.
Apr 2017 “Europe-China Civil Society Cooperation. In Search of Ways Forward", host of a panel discussion with Isabel Hilton (CEO, ChinaDialogue) and Andreas Fulda (University of Nottingham), Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, Berlin, 27/04/2017.
Mar 2017 “China's 'Operation Skynet' and the need for a European response", 2017 OECD Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum, Paris, 31/03/2017.
Jul 2016 “European Crises through the Lens of Chinese Media". Vortrag am EastWest Institute, Brussels, 12/07/2016, with Jo Leinen (MEP), Amb. Fleischer, Kristin Shi-Kupfer and Jasmin Gong.

Media Appearances

Jan 2020 “Bertram Lang on International Civil Society Organizations and China", interview with Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich, Merics Experts Podcast, Berlin, 16/01/2020.
Aug 2017 „ASEAN wird 50. EU bleibt Vorbild“, Radiointerview, SWR 2 Journal.
Mar 2017 „China zähmt die NGOs: Gefahr für die Einparteienherrschaft“, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 07/03/2017, p.10.
Mar 2017 “Overseas NGOs in China: Left in Legal Limbo", The Diplomat, 04/03/2017 (with Kristin Shi-Kupfer)
Jan 2017 “The Pitfalls of Law Enforcement Cooperation With China", The Diplomat (with Thomas Eder), 21.01.2017.
Jan 2017 “专访:北京要让本土非政府组织取代国外NGO", TV interview, DW News, 02/01/2017.
Sep 2016 “How to Counter China's Global Propaganda Offensive", New York Times, 21/09/2016 (with Mareike Ohlberg).
May 2016 „Fremde Federn: Bertram Lang. Kulturelle Soft Power aus China?“, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 07.05.2016, p.8.


Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Campus Bockenheim

Neue Mensa, R. 305, PO 20

Bockenheimer Landstr. 133

D-60325 Frankfurt am Main

Tel. +49(0)69 798 23284

Email: b.lang[at]

Office hours upon appointment.