1st Meeting of the European National Scientists' Networks in China

On 20 September, the day after the Forum on the Mobility of European Researchers in China, EURAXESS China in cooperation with EURAXESS European Network (TOP IV), used the opportunity having all these China based European researchers in Beijing at the same time and held the First Meeting of the European National Scientists' Networks in China.

The meeting brought together for the first-time representatives of different national networks of European scientists in China to share experience. The event also invited a wider audience from the European research community in China and the goal was to explore the possibility of the establishment of a formal network of European Researchers in China.

The event was held at the main room of the north wing of the Delegation of the European Delegation in Beijing and attracted a full room of researchers and other network representatives. Before starting the formal meeting, the participants met for a pre-meeting lunch at the nearby Greek restaurant Athena forging new inter-European connections within the research community in China.

Halldor Berg from EURAXESS China and Isser Peer from EURAXESS European Network opened the formal session of the meeting followed by a thorough introduction of EURAXESS and EURAXESS China delivered by Halldor Berg [see Presentation (7.42 MB) ]. The first session of the meeting consisted of representatives from different networks introducing their activities and taking questions.

  • Dr Odette Paramor, a professor at Nottingham Ningbo University, member of ENRICH and former member of the EU funded Dragon Star Plus project, introduced the Guide for EU Researchers in China written by her for the Dragon Star Plus Project in January 2018. The guide can be found here. Dr Paramor also raised the possibility that ENRICH could support the writing of another edition of this kind of guide in cooperation with a possible network of European Researchers.
  • Dr Francesco Silvestri, an adjunct professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University and a board member of the Association of Italian Scholars in China (AAIIC) introduce the association to the participants. The AAIIC was the first national network of European researchers established in China in 2016 and has been a strategic partner of EURAXESS from the beginning. Francesco introduced how the network is a formally established association in Italy and how it has been active in organizing events and activities with different partners in China, in particular the Italian embassy and consulates in China. He also introduced the organizational structure of the network, the networking benefits of the network and the main ways they operate. They have a Wechat group with over 100 members.
  • Dr Jose Pastor-Pareja, professor at Tsinghua University and the head of Association of Spanish Researchers in China (RICE), introduced the RICE network to the participants. The network was initiated a few years ago after an inquiry of the Spanish Embassy in Beijing to EURAXESS China and has grown from around 10 researchers to around 70 members today. The association is formally established in Spain and has a legal residence at the embassy in Beijing. It is formally linked to other Spanish Scientific Diaspora networks around the world and has grown to become a lot of work and more complicated the more members are involved. They have organized events, for example a forum with the Cervantes institute in March and the Southern China chapter held a Spanish speaking research day in Shenzhen in June. The network also welcomes other Spanish speaking people, including researchers from Latin America. They run a Wechat group with 130 members.
  • Mr Cédric Guillerme, Deputy Counsellor for Science and Technology at the French Embassy in Beijing, introduced the activity for French researchers in China lead by the embassy of France in Beijing. They have an annual French researchers' day organized by the embassy and they also run a Wechat group with around 150 French researchers in China. The embassy is in charge of these activities which is different from how it is in some other countries, like Japan, where the French researchers themselves run associations.
  • Mr Jens Hofmann, Science and Technology Counsellor of the Embassy of Germany in Beijing, introduced the activities for German researchers in China. In cooperation with EURAXESS China a group of over 100 German researchers were identified and in November 2018 a German Scientists Day was held at the German embassy in Beijing where more than 60 German scientists from all over China were invited to participate. A similar event was held in Shanghai in June 2019. These activities have been mostly organized by the DAAD German Academic Exchange Center with support from the embassy. Through an initiative of EURAXESS China a Wechat group for German scientists was organized that now has around 90 members.
  • Mr Taake Manning, The Science & Technology Counsellor of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Beijing, joined the meeting to introduce the Holland Science Network in China. It is an initiative of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Beijing and the consulate in Shanghai and also includes Chinese "alumnis" that have strong connection to the Netherlands. They have so far organized two annual forums in Shanghai. The first one took place in April 2018 in Shanghai and the second one was held recently. They have a WeChat group for the members of the network that has between 80-90 people.
  • Mr Jonas Thürig, Deputy Head of Science, Technology and Education Section of the Swiss Embassy in Beijing, introduced Swissnex. They are focused on technology collaboration and have 5 hubs around the world. They are not strictly speaking network for Swiss researchers, but they have many different activities for Swiss researchers in China. This includes networking events, thematic days, funding of exchange of researchers between Swiss and China, newsletter where China based Swiss researchers are introduced, match making and alumni events.
  • Ms Anne Kari Johansen, the Science and Technology Counsellor of the Norwegian embassy in Beijing. The Norwegian embassy is involved in organizing the NORALUMNI network that connects and organizes events for Norwegian researchers in China. Like the Holland Science Network this is an alumni network and includes also Chinese researchers that have connection with Norway as well as peoples from other fields such as students and experts. The network is excellent at connecting China and Norway and the members can serve as great bridges between these two countries. They have around 800 members all over China. It was discussed how smaller countries can get a lot of use from such network but might need to keep them wider than just strictly for scientists.

The first session was finished with a presentation from Dr Isser Pier, the representative of the EURAXESS European Network. He introduced the global picture of European Scientific Networks around the world. In addition to the activities there is a strong history of network activities in North America and EURAXESS European Network will soon be visiting Brazil to discuss the same topic. He outlined how if there were strong Scientists networks in China, North America and other places they could connect with each and make each other stronger. To underline the benefit of Scientists Diaspora Networks he also introduced and described the case study of Israeli Scientists Networks around the world. See his presentation here:Presentation (698.92 KB)

The second session of the meeting was a round-table and open conversation amongst the participants about the feasibility of establishing a network of European researchers in China and what kind of format that should take. The main take-away was that such a network was very welcome by the participants who were all interested in supporting it's formation.

The meeting came to the conclusion that the next steps would be the following:

  1. Make sure to do a report and circulate a report on the outcomes of the meeting so the whole community is on board and aware of these talks.
  2. Form 3 different type discussion groups on Wechat.
    1. One for the wide community of European researchers in China
    2. One for a big group of interested researchers that want to support the formation of this network.
    3. A small working group of main stakeholders (representatives of networks etc)
  3. Make sure that there exists a comprehensive list of all networks and stakeholders that should be included
  4. Choose an acting preparation committee - make a detailed concept note for such a network and introduce to the European Delegation and other potential future partners

The meeting finished at 17:00 and the group of participating researchers were invited to go to the nearby rooftop bar Arrow Factory for further networking and continuing the conversation.

See more photos at our Facebook gallery.