Mareike Ohlberg, Research Associate, Mercator Institute for China Studies; former An Wang Post-Doctoral Fellow, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Head of Research on Politics, Society, and the Media, Mercator Institute for China Studies
Unlike any other Chinese leader since the beginning of the reform era, Xi Jinping has worked on crafting a unified national ideology with the aim to strengthen the ties between China’s citizens and the Communist Party of China (CCP). The Xi leadership tries to rally support around the “China Dream,” the vision of China as a global player, and it promotes the “China Path” as an alternative to market economies and liberal democracies.
Although partially successful, the propaganda offensive has so far not yielded the desired result: a broad-based societal consensus on China’s future course. A new publication by the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) shows widely differing views within Chinese society on China’s developmental model and its global role.
For their report, “Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s future,” Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlberg, Simon Lang and Bertram Lang analyzed debates in Chinese social media and conducted a survey among predominantly urban Chinese netizens. Even though party-state propaganda played a dominant role, debates in online chat groups such as Weibo or Tianya Net displayed a wide range of opinions despite censorship and repression of dissent.
Dr. Kristin Shi-Kupfer
Kristin Shi-Kupfer heads research on politics, society and the media at the Mercator Institute for China Studies. She is an expert on media policy, civil society, religious policy and ideology in China. She previously worked as a research associate at the University of Freiburg’s Institute for Sinology. She earned her PhD from Ruhr University Bochum with a thesis on spiritual and religious groups in China after 1978. From 2007 to 2011 she was the China correspondent for the Austrian news magazine Profil, the German Protestant Press Agency epd, and Südwest Presse in Beijing. She also worked as a freelance contributor for other media like ZEIT Online, tageszeitung (taz), and Deutsche Welle in China. In May 2017, Shi-Kupfer was appointed member of the expert committee of the German-Chinese platform on innovation under the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Dr. Mareike Ohlberg
Mareike Ohlberg is a research associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, where she focuses on China’s subnational politics, official media policy as well as developments in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ohlberg holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from the University of Heidelberg and an MA from Columbia University. In her thesis, she analyzed changes in China’s global propaganda outreach since 1978. Prior to joining MERICS, Ohlberg spent a year as an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and another year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Cheng Shewo Institute for Chinese Journalism at Shih Hsin University in Taipei.