Strong transcultural partnerships need robust ecosystems to flourish – CONSTELLATIONS builds a Sino-European community to connect and enable mutual learning. The Open China Lab saw experts and professionals in the Sino-European sphere congregate to discuss contemporary topics in Chinese civil society, politics, education, economics and culture at the CONSTELLATIONS studio.

The Open China Lab was opened by a panel consisting of Thomas Wimmer, Deputy Head of East Asia Division in the Federal Foreign Office, QIN Liwen, the Founder and CEO of Trends Eurasia and Jaquelines Yves, Research Associate at MERICS on China Innovation and Industry Politics. Moderated by Dr. Jing Bartz and Katja Hellkötter of CONSTELLATIONS, the panel traced current trends and outlooks on Sino-German cooperation in 2017.

Over Chinese dinner and shortly before the beginning of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster, participants got to choose what topic they wanted to dive deeper into. Different table owners facilitated discussions and harvested results. Jacqueline Ives from MERICS offered a round table on how Germany can benefit from innovations in China and Vera Phillips, Director East Asia at the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad, asked what the future of Sino-Economic relations will look like and what strategies to win in the long-run exist.

Qin Liwen from Trends Eurasia complemented the economic input by focusing on Chinese companies in Germany, tackling how German partners can embrace opportunities and how especially the German “Mittelstand” can benefit. Tarek Mohamed Hassan, ASApreneurs fellow at CONSTELLATIONS, opened a discussion on the start-up ecosystems in Germany and China, pondering how (social) entrepreneurs can be connected and empowered.

Shifting to the public sector, Dr. Sigrun Abels, head of the TU Berlin China-Center, focused on education cooperation and the future of joint Sino-German and cross-sectorial learning. Also in the sphere of education,  Dr. Ines Eben von Racknitz, Associate Professor at the Department of History at Nanjing University, offered insights on Europe’s and China’s history and its impact on today’s relations. Dr. von Racknitz urged to think about blind spots in Sino-European cooperation that are opportunities to be exploited.

A final table was hosted by Caspar Wellbergen, Head of the China Office at Stiftung Mercator. Elaborating on civil society relations, attention was given to the new NGO law that is still to be analyzed regarding specific constraints and opportunities. The table laid out different scenarios of how the NGO might affect Sino-International cooperation and the need for resilience in the face of uncertainty.

Bringing together a dedicated peer group of China enthusiasts led to in-depth and cross-disciplinary inputs, embracing the diversity of all attendees opened up new perspectives. The Open China Lab took place in the framework of the LEAD China Lab, a joint program of LEAD Academy Berlin and CONSTELLATIONS International that helps organization develop their China strategy through extensive case work and peer learning.