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Look back on past news stories at the Manchester China Institute.

MCI Director meets with PRC Consul General in San Francisco

Lee Kai Hung Chair Professor Peter Gries discusses US-China relations with PRC Consul General in San Francisco

9 January 2019

On Wednesday, 2 January, MCI Director Prof Peter Gries met with PRC Consul General Donghua Wang in San Francisco.

Prof Gries and Mr Wang spent an hour discussing the current state of US-China relations, with a focus on managing the ongoing trade war.

Chinese Ambassador visits the University

The Ambassador, accompanied by Madam Huping Hua, was hosted by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming visits the Manchester China Institute

19 December 2018

His Excellency Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, inspired the next generation of innovators during a keynote speech at the National Graphene Institute, demonstrating the strong bond between the University and China and the benefits of partnership working.

Concluding his tour of the University, Ambassador Liu said it was his third campus visit since 2015, the last time as part of President Xi’s state visit to Manchester. This visit was just as symbolic as it coincided with the 40th anniversary of the opening up of the Chinese economy to international markets.

In his speech, Ambassador Liu stated he was impressed by the University’s discipline and innovative spirit which complemented the UK’s research strengths in science, artificial intelligence, healthcare, ageing and green growth. There is also a link between the University and China’s expertise in urban transformation, engineering, technology, aerospace and nuclear energy. With this, the Ambassador commented he saw potential University-China partnerships around the regeneration of rust belt areas and building green, smart cities of the future.

He said: "I sincerely hope that the University of Manchester will continue to leverage its strengths, deepen cooperation with China on innovation in the spirit of “knowledge, wisdom and humanity”, and enhance exchanges in personnel training and technology. I am sure you will become a leading brand of China-UK cooperation on innovation."

The Ambassador, accompanied by Madam Huping Hua, was hosted by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, the Confucius Institute and the Manchester China Institute.

The Ambassador's full speech can be found on the Embassy website.

MCI Director hosts 11th US-China Diplomatic Dialogue

Diplomatic Dialogue delegates

Prof Peter Gries hosts 11th US-China Diplomatic Dialogue in Washington, DC

19 November 2018

A group of Chinese and American diplomats have met in Washington, DC to discuss US-China relations, security challenges, overseas development, and a host of other bilateral and global issues.

Professor Peter Gries of the Manchester China Institute established the US-China Diplomatic Dialogue in 2007 to generate mutual trust and improve U.S.-China relations. It does this by creating an informal atmosphere in which participating diplomats can establish personal relationships while frankly exchanging their views.

15 diplomats participated in the 11th annual Dialogue. The Americans came from the US State Department, mostly from its China Desk. Three of the Chinese diplomats came from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, one from the Chinese mission to the UN, and one each from the Chinese consulates in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.

As an icebreaker, Director Gries hosted 13 of the diplomats the night before for an informal dinner and a basketball game. The game gave the diplomats a chance to get to know one another before the formal sit down sessions the next day.

Topics covered at the meeting ranged from U.S.– China relations under the Trump and Xi administrations, managing security challenges from the South China Seas to the Taiwan Strait, development assistance in the Third World, including China’s Belt and Road Initiative, mutual perceptions, public diplomacy and academic and cultural exchanges.

Americans and Chinese grow up in very different socio-political environments, and this can result in very different views of the world. In such a context, Chinese and Americans can easily project their worst fears onto one another, increasing the likelihood of conflict.

Dialogues therefore have a vital role in helping each side better understand the others’ views, lessening the likelihood that misperceptions and fear will contribute to war. Because of the working-level, informal, and intimate nature of the US-China Diplomatic Dialogue, it also allows young Chinese and American diplomats to form personal relationships that they can call upon in their future careers.

“The recent escalation of the US-China trade war has contributed to a dramatic deterioration of US-China relations - as a result, the Chinese government has recently cancelled several planned meetings with the US,” said Professor Gries. “I was therefore thrilled that our dialogue took place as scheduled, and that our group discussions were frank but productive.”

Chinese participants were Counsellor Liu Xiaoyan (DC), First Secretary Wang Lixin (DC), Attaché Liu Shuran (DC), Liu Yanming (UN), Yu Miao (New York), Peng Wenlin (San Francisco), Gao Fei (Los Angeles), Liu Yixing (Chicago), Zhang Shaoke (Houston). 

American participants were David Fuller (China Desk), Anna Richey-Allen (Desk Officer), Sona Rameesh (Desk Officer), Ryan Jacobs, Sarah Shabbir, Shailin Ynacay (China Desk).

MCI Director interviewed on US-China trade war by BBCWorld

Peter Gries on BBCWorld

18 September 2018

As the USA escalates its trade war with China, on Tuesday 18th September MCI Director Peter Gries was hosted on Impact-BBCWorld to talk about the potential impact of new tariffs on Chinese exports. 

Peter's argument is that although China does engage in unfair economic practices, Trump’s trade war is a reflection of unilateralist and militarist trends within American conservatism, and the CCP is not likely to give in, as its legitimacy rests on anti-Western nationalism.

He concluded that, with no resolution in sight, US consumers, not the Chinese Government, are likely to pay higher prices for a variety of goods. 

MCI Director interviewed on BBC World Service

MCI Director and Lee Kai Hung Chair Prof Peter Gries has been interviewed on BBC World Service

5 September 2018

Listen to Prof Peter Gries speaking about China's role in Africa's economic development. There is a China model or Beijing consensu for economic development and aid that differs itself from the traditional Washington consensus.

Listen on the BBC from minute 19:00.

Official opening

3 May 2018

Mobike debate launches University's new China institute

Challenging the perception that modern-day technology travels only from West to East, scholars and businesspeople debated Mobike’s experience in the UK at a special event to officially open the Manchester China Institute, based at The University of Manchester.

Dame Nancy Rothwell at the official opening of the Manchester China Institute at its new home in Waterloo Place

Set up with the generous support of Hong Kong businessman, philanthropist and honorary graduate of The University of Manchester, Dr Lee Kai Hung, the Institute will work to improve understanding between the UK and China by promoting world-leading research, community outreach activities, and public lectures in Manchester and China.

The Institute, which is located on Oxford Road in the heart of the University of Manchester campus, was officially opened by Dr Lee Kai Hung and University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell. Also present was Lord Jim O’Neill, honorary professor of economics at the University who coined the term ‘BRIC’ economies predicting that Brazil, Russia, India and China would become future powerhouses of the world economy.

Dr Lee’s gift will also create a new ‘Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery’ at the Manchester Museum, the largest University museum in the UK, displaying artefacts such as ancient bronze sculptures, carved jade and textiles.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

This is the latest in an ever-growing series of links between the City, the University and China. In 2015 we hosted President Xi on campus and I joined the Prime Minister’s delegation to China earlier this year. This opening represents a new stage in that journey as we bring together the widespread expertise on campus to benefit people in Manchester, the UK and internationally.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell / President and Vice-Chancellor

As part of the launch on Wednesday, guests including Dr Lee heard how the bike-sharing company Mobike has successfully expanded to become available in 200 cities around the world, including Manchester, which became the firm’s first UK location in 2017. The panel debated opportunities for China to export technology to the West and how Manchester is becoming an ever more attractive destination for Chinese visitors and businesses.

The debate was introduced by the Lee Kai Hung Chair and Director of the Manchester China Institute, Professor Peter Gries. He said: “Thanks to Dr Lee’s generosity and vision, the Manchester China Institute is now able to bring together the large and extremely talented research community at the University with businesses, policy makers, and the public, both here in the UK and in China.

“Having Mobike as the subject for our first debate is symbolic - it shows how well Chinese and British people can work together to everyone’s benefit.”

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell at the unveiling with Dr Lee Kai Hung and his wife, and Lord Jim O’Neill.
President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell at the unveiling with Dr Lee Kai Hung and his wife, and Lord Jim O’Neill.

The debate panellists were Steve Pyer, Mobike’s European Development Director, Rhys Whalley, Executive Director at Manchester China Forum, and Ismail Ertürk, Senior Lecturer in Banking and Director for Social Responsibility and Engagement at Alliance Manchester Business School. The event was moderated by Dr Andrew James, Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Policy and Management at Alliance Manchester Business School.

Event attendees also viewed an exhibition of Chinese watercolour paintings by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov, and Wang Ying, the Education Counsellor of the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, inspired by China and graphene.

Dr Lee said: “China may be the world’s second largest economy, but the many stories that we read about China on a daily basis are often far from complimentary. The mission of Manchester China Institute is to generate understanding, trust, harmony and peace between the people of China and Great Britain, between our two nations and also between China and other countries.

“I want to extend my sincere thanks to The University of Manchester for bestowing upon me the great honour of allowing this historical Georgian building, the home of the Manchester China Institute, to carry my name in perpetuity and to make me an integral part of not only its past but of its future.”

Phoenix TV reports on MCI official opening

A still from Phoenix TV of the official opening of MCI.

29 May 2018

On Thursday, 3 May 2018, Phoenix TV attended and covered the launch of the Manchester China Institute in its new home in Waterloo Place on Oxford Road. 

The Phoenix TV broadcast captured the official opening and featured interviews with MCI Director Prof. Peter Gries as well as with Dr Lee Kai Hung, the donor who endowed the Institute. 

Find out more

Research film by Dir Elena Barabantseva published

13 May 2018

Research documentary 'Border People' by Dr Elena Barabantseva, senior lecturer in Chinese International Relations and MCI affiliate, has been published in the Journal of Narrative Politics.

Border People (2018, 15 min)

The official version of the Sino-Vietnamese border stresses the memory and legacy of the violent 1979 border war and the warm relations between national leaders. This dominant narrative of the border glosses over long-existing human connections and lifestyles characteristic of the area, which escape the binary analytics of national borders. Using visual anthropology techniques, this film explores the intimate geopolitics of the Sino-Vietnamese border through a personal story of a Yao woman Meihua who unofficially crossed the border from Vietnam to marry a Chinese Yao man Fucai.

The film juxtaposes Meihua's story of married life in China with the stories and Yao ritual practices that the elders pass on to the young generation, on the one hand, and the local state's efforts to revive the Yao as an official ethnic minority in the Chinese multinational nation, on the other. The film ponders questions of how the border enters and shapes family relations and what it means for the Yao to, quite literally, inhabit the border in their daily lives.

The film seeks to enable the Yao to express their versions of their own past and present and searches for the role that the state imagines for the Yao in its ambitious border development plans and ethnic revival strategies.

University takes centre stage with Prime Minister and Chinese business leaders

Prime Minister Theresa May speaking at the China-UK Business Forum, and President and Vice Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (inset).
Prime Minister Theresa May (left) speaking at the China-UK Business Forum, and President and Vice Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (inset).

5 February 2018

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell and Nobel Laureate, Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov of The University of Manchester addressed a group of specially selected business leaders at UK China Business Forum in Shanghai.

Dame Nancy and Sir Kostya shared the stage with two of China’s highest-profile business people – Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group and Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd and Volvo Cars, as well as Theresa May and Liam Fox.

Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister said: "I'm proud to have brought many inspirational women in my business delegation.

"Women like Nancy Rothwell, who spoke to you earlier and whose university, Manchester, has excellent links with Wuhan, the first stop on my visit, as well as across China."

Dame Nancy and Sir Kostya were chosen as part of the current delegation in recognition of Manchester’s position as a global leader in research and innovation for example in the development of advanced materials, such as graphene, in business studies and in health innovation. It also recognises the longstanding role that Manchester and its university play in UK-China relations.

There are more than 4,800 Chinese students studying in Manchester and the University has had a centre in Shanghai since 2008 with more than 1,000 Global MBA students studying in China since it opened.

This relationship was cemented when President Xi visited The University of Manchester and its National Graphene Institute in 2015, where he met Dame Nancy, Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya and saw some of the latest developments and applications for the 2D material graphene.

During the current trip Dame Nancy has visited Manchester’s twin city, Wuhan, alongside the Prime Minister and attended the new UK CEO Council in Beijing which took place in the Great Hall of the People. Dame Nancy is a member of the Council alongside about 20 other UK and 20 Chinese CEOs of major businesses.

This marks a new stage in the Manchester’s relationship with China and follows the recent establishment of the University’s Manchester-China Institute, which was supported by a £5m donation from businessman, philanthropist and honorary graduate, Dr Lee Kai Hung.

The Institute is tasked with improving mutual understanding in UK-China relations, and the donation will also establish a new Chinese culture gallery at the Manchester Museum.

Dame Nancy commented: "Manchester has a vibrant Chinese cultural and business community and the country’s links with the University are growing all of the time.

"It was therefore an honour to be chosen by the Prime Minister for this delegation, to join the UK-China CEO forum and to have the opportunity to speak to fellow universities and some of China's major businesses about ways in which we can work together to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues."

Prof Peter Gries gives talks in Stockholm and Paris

Prof Peter Gries participating in a panel discussion in Stockholm.
Prof Peter Gries (right) participating in a panel discussion in Stockholm.

23 January 2018

In December 2017 and January 2018, Director of the Manchester China Institute, Prof Pete Gries, gave a number of visiting lectures and participated in international panel discussions.

'How Identities and Ideologies Shape French Attitudes towards China'

Director Peter Gries gave a talk at Ecole Militaire in Paris, on Monday, 22 January 2018.

'Xi Jinping's "New Era": What does it mean for China's Role in the World?'

Director Peter Gries participated in a panel discussion at the Swedish Institute for International Studies, on Friday, 8 December 2017.

Prof Peter Gries also gave a talk at the Chinese Academy of Scences.

Director Peter Gries gives talk at the University of Oxford

16 January 2018

On Monday, 15 January 2018, Prof Peter Gries gave a lecture at the University of Oxford's China Centre on the following topic:

Are the US and China destined to fall into a "Thucydides trap" of power transitions leading to great power conflict?

The study explored the psychological processes that underlie US-China relations today. In two randomized online experiments, we manipulated ordinary Americans' perceptions of US-China relations with real CNN video clips that framed a possible US-China power transition as either positive or zero-sum.

Across both experiments, more zero-sum news reports heightened perceptions of US-China competition, increasing intergroup mistrust, anger, and desires for a tougher China policy.

The second study both replicated these findings and revealed that individual differences in nationalism and uncertainty avoidance moderated the effects of media framings on mistrust and anger. These experimental results provide insights into the psychological mechanisms linking structural changes in the balance of power to the individual-level processes that determine great power war and peace.

Visionary gift

14 December 2017

Visionary gift endows new Manchester China Institute

Dame Nancy Rothwell and Dr Lee

A new £5m donation will allow The University of Manchester to establish a major centre for China studies. It will seek to improve mutual understanding in UK-China relations, and establish a new Chinese culture gallery at the Manchester Museum.

The donation, by retired Hong Kong businessman, philanthropist and Honorary Graduate of the University of Manchester, Dr Lee Kai Hung is a major investment which will promote world-leading research, community outreach activities, and public lectures in Manchester and China.

It will also create a new 'Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery' at the Manchester Museum, the largest University museum in the UK, displaying artefacts such as ancient bronze sculptures, carved jade and textiles.

With growing links between Manchester and China, and the global significance of Chinese policies such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy, the Manchester China Institute is set to play a major role in improving understanding between the China and the UK.

The Centre's new Director is Professor of Chinese Politics Peter Gries, who has worked extensively on China's foreign relations.

He said: "The UK and China lie on opposite ends of the Eurasian landmass which is the focus of China's 'One Belt, One Road' policy. Manchester, in particular, has a large Chinese community and historic ties with China which were only strengthened by the visit of President Xi to Manchester and the University in 2015.

"To realise the full potential of UK-China bilateral relations, however, greater mutual trust and understanding are urgently needed. We are therefore extremely grateful to Dr Lee for his generous gift, which is set to put Manchester at the forefront of China studies in the UK."

Dr Lee Kai Hung


The development of China-UK relations is a subject very close to my heart, so I am delighted to be able to help create this Institute at The University of Manchester. China's ties with this city, the University and the many Chinese staff and students make this an ideal place to locate the Institute and the China Gallery.

Dr Lee Kai Hung / retired Hong Kong businessman, philanthropist, University of Manchester Honorary Graduate

As well as research, the Centre will have a particular emphasis on working with the local Chinese community and the thousands of Chinese students in the city. It will also seek to serve local businesses and promote peaceful UK-China relations.

Manchester has more academics engaged in China and China-related studies than almost any other UK university – working on everything from the arts and humanities to health and science.

It also has a Confucius Institute which focuses on teaching Chinese. The new Manchester China Institute will be based in its own listed historic building, which will be named in honour of Dr Lee.

Dr Lee said: "The development of China-UK relations is a subject very close to my heart, so I am delighted to be able to help create this Institute at The University of Manchester. China’s ties with this city, the university and the many Chinese staff and students make this an ideal place to locate the Institute and the China Gallery."

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: "We are very grateful to Dr Lee for this gift, which will greatly increase knowledge in a subject of global significance. Alongside the important research outputs, this gift will enable the greater promotion of understanding between the two countries, not least through the programme of outreach and the new gallery at the Manchester Museum."

Return to the full list of news stories.

MCI Director hosts 10th US-China diplomatic dialogue

Delegates at the Dialogue

4 December 2017

On December 1-2, the Manchester China Institute and the Center for American Studies at Fudan University brought together 17 Chinese and American diplomats in Zhujiajiao, Shanghai for the 10th annual US-China Diplomatic Dialogue.

The Chinese participants came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, while the American participants came from the American Embassy and Consulates in China.

The diplomats exchanged views on:

  • Sino-American relations since the initiation of the Trump administration;
  • opportunities for China-US cooperation in important areas;
  • Sino-American interactions in the Asia-Pacific region;
  • challenges for future Sino-US relations.

The group enjoyed the nightlife of Zhujiajiao ancient town as an ice-breaker.

Chinese participants were:

  • Shi Yuanqiang, Counsellor
  • Li Tao, Second Secretary
  • Wu Shengnan, Third Secretary
  • Li Jianbo, Third Secretary
  • Xing Chunqiu, Third Secretary
  • Li Yinan, Attaché
  • Hu Yiming, Attaché
  • Wang Shengyao, Attaché
  • Li Yao, Attaché

American participants were:

  • Kevin Ellerbrock, US Consulate in Guangzhou, Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer
  • Ivan Kamara, US Consulate in Shenyang, Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer
  • Drew Lebkeucher, US Embassy, Economic Officer
  • Bridget Lines, US Embassy, Political Officer
  • Pilar Quigua, US Embassy, Assistant Information Officer
  • Charles Reynolds, US Consulate in Shanghai, Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Unit Chief
  • Thao Anh Tran, US Consulate in Chengdu, Political Officer
  • Stefan Whitney, US Embassy, Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer