Re: Germany’s contentious China debate

In his measured post, Heiner Roetz wrote "However, the 'researchers' think they can outsmart the Chinese side through 'tactical compromises' and 'mimicry'. It is probably in the nature of things if it is not specified what such 'compromises' look like."
I repeatedly responded to such criticism that we do, of course, discuss the conditions of our fieldwork in China, including necessary compromises, in our published work. Here is my essay, just published in the 'Made in China Journal', which does just that, for anyone who is interested in a proper debate:

Re: Germany’s contentious China debate

My commentary "Researching China: How Germany tackles the issues" has just been published on the blog of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

It can be accessed here:

What follows is a short summary.

In Germany a public debate about the current state of China studies has erupted.

Rivalling op-eds appeared in Germany's flagship centrist newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Re: Germany’s contentious China debate

Dear Professor Goldin,

I wholeheartedly agree with you that the topic of the Chinese Communist Party's autocratic power, researcher positionality, and academic freedom is of key importance. It deserves to be discussed critically, constructively, and with civility. Here in the UK I have learned that one can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

Re: Germany’s contentious China debate

If the participants in this debate insist on perpetuating it on H-ASIA, perhaps they could be persuaded to continue in German? Perhaps then I might understand what they are saying. As it stands, the back-and-forth, with barrages of quotations taken out of context and increasingly uncivil personal attacks, is incomprehensible to outsiders. The rhetoric is regrettable, because the issues seem important, but they are being obscured by an impenetrable fog of invective. This is no way to conduct an academic debate.

Paul R. Goldin
University of Pennsylvania

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