You are here

News from NIAS

New publications by NIAS researchers

Aki Tonami and Stewart Watters have two new publications out now.

Aki Tonami and Watters, Stewart. (2012) Japan's Arctic Policy: The Sum of Many Parts, Arctic Yearbook 2012, pp.93-103.

Stewart Watters and Tonami, Aki. (2012) Singapore: An Emerging Arctic Actor, Arctic Yearbook 2012, pp.104-113.

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Dan Nie, PhD, School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä
Topic: A Cross-Cultural Research on Leader-Member Exchange, Organizational Trust, and Corporate Ethical Values between Finland and China
Wang Jingjing, Postdoc, Soochow University
The Study of Chinese Writer Lu Xun

Freek Jonker New Pubslishing Assistant at NIAS Press

With a background in Public International Law at the University of Amsterdam, a minor in Latin American Studies, currently following my second master in African Studies at the University of Copenhagen and now working as a Publishing Assistant at NIAS to add the Asian side of the globe to the story of my life so far. Particular scholarly focus on the legal implications of land grabbing in Africa, particular private focus on music, football, reading, and recently discovered the joy of baking my own bread!

Over time Freek will take over the duties currently undertaken by Heather Patterson (who has graduated and thus exploring new uses for her undoubted talents). It is our great pleasure to welcome Freed to NIAS Press.

Vera Altmeyer back from 6 months fieldwork

Vera Altmeyer, associated PhD candidate at NIAS, has just returned to Copenhagen after six months of field research in Jakarta, Indonesia. During her time in Jakarta, Vera has spent two visiting fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from May to July and at Freedom Institute from August to October.

For her PhD research she was analyzing the campaigns for the election of Governor and Vice-Governor of Jakarta Province, for which a first round was held in early July and a run-off in late September.  She did intensive participant observation, accompanying the two main candidates and their respective vice-candidates on the campaign trail and regularly observing the work of various other actors involved in the campaign process. Besides, she did a range of interviews with actors from the media, civil society organizations, the election commission, local research institutes, political parties, campaign volunteer organizations, campaign consultant companies and survey institutes, and the candidates themselves. A media content analysis will be done with archive data collected.

Overall Vera’s research aims to investigate how actors and institutions of political communication and political economy determine the outcome of elections and thereby contribute to the shaping of power relations in contemporary Indonesia. A further case study will be conducted in 2013.

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Anni-Elina Kynsilehto, University of Turku
Topic: The Public Diplomacy of Suematsu Kenchō

Fatemeh, University of Bergen, Faculty of psychology
Topic: Women’s financial security which rely on remittances in Tajikistan

Growth: Critical Perspectives from Asia

Thursday, June 13, 2013 to Friday, June 14, 2013

The Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI) is pleased to announce the international conference 'Growth: Critical Perspectives from Asia' to be held at the University of Copenhagen on 13-14 June 2013.

The conference will take place over two days and feature distinguished keynote speakers as well as panels examining the notion of growth from an Asian perspective and from multi-disciplinary vantage points – cultural, economic and social.

'Growth: Critical Perspectives on Asia' is the fifth in a series of annual conferences initiated by ADI in 2008. ADI is a cross-faculty and interdisciplinary effort to meet the current challenges and demands for better knowledge of and deeper insights into Asian matters.

Over the past fifty years we have witnessed phenomenal economic growth in Asia, lifting millions of people out of poverty, and propelling many Asian nations to premier ranks in the global order, but as the social and ecological costs become more apparent, economic and demographic growth looms as both promise and peril. The concept of growth has not only been central to economic theory and ecological critique, but also to social and cultural theories of societal and civilizational transformation that increasingly challenges universalizing Western notions of modernity. This conference critically examines the notion of growth and the ways in which it is shaping social-political landscapes in Asia. We define and question growth in this very broad sense, implying that quantitative changes are inevitably accompanied by qualitative transformations, and paying equal attention to the intricate interconnectedness of naturally occurring growth and human interference as well as to its limitations, stagnation, decline and renewal. Understood in this extended sense, the term and related concepts can be fruitfully used to explore social, economic and cultural processes across time and space within the macro-region of Asia (and beyond) from cross-disciplinary perspectives.

Based on this notion of growth not as an autonomous, self-determined entity but as the outcome of close and constant interaction between nature and purposeful human action, at this conference we propose to rethink and scrutinize this concept from an Asian perspective and from multi-disciplinary vantage points - cultural, economic and social.


15 January 2013 Deadline for submitting abstracts

15 February 2013 Notification of acceptance

27 May 2013  Deadline for submitting paper

Please visit the conference website to read the full call for abstracts Abstracts including title, name and affiliation should be sent to

The conference is organized by the Asian Dynamics Initiative, a cross-faculty and inter-disciplinary research priority area at the University of Copenhagen. 

More information

An interview from 2000 with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping. Translated into Western language for the first time

At the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China to be held in November 2012, China’s Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to be elected as the new Secretary General of the party.

In August 2000, Xi Jinping gave a rare interview to the Chinese magazine Zhonghua Ernü. NIAS, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies hereby issues a translation of the interview in Danish and English. To our knowledge this the first time the interview has been translated into a Western language. The Danish version is a translation of the original interview in Chinese while the English version is translated from the Danish version. The translated interview was published in the Danish newspaper Politiken on Sunday 28 October 2012.

In the interview Xi Jinping tells about his background, his upbringing and his perception of good governance. In a personal and at times riveting way Xi Jinping explains how he during the Cultural Revolution only 15 years old was sent to the countryside for 7 years – 1,000 km away from Beijing – in order to learn from the peasants while his father was under political criticism. Moreover, Xi Jinping talks about the promotion of officials and corruption.

The interview is translated by the sinologists Carsten Boyer Thøgersen and Susanne Posborg. Carsten Boyer Thøgersen is a former Danish diplomat and Consul-General in Shanghai, posted for 20 years in China and now an associate of NIAS. Susanne Posborg, University of Aarhus, is the most often used Danish translator of Chinese novels and literature.

Researchers and news media are welcome to quote from the English translation if NIAS is stated as the source.

Geir Helgesen,
Nordic Institute of Asian Studies,
University of Copenhagen


On the Xi Jinping interview in 2000.                       

By Carsten Boyer Thøgersen and Susanne Posborg
Officially, the interview has never been promoted by the Chinese authorities. Neither in 2000 nor today. The interview is accessible on Chinese web-sites and was in February 2012 once more published in another Chinese commercial magazine, owned by a Xi’an based Chinese shareholding media company. 
If interviewed today, Xi Jinping would probably have phrased himself differently. But the interview was already published 12 years ago, has been available since then and known to an increasingly larger Chinese public. What can the Chinese authorities do? They do nothing and do not comment on the interview.
Xi Jinping was 47 years old and governor of Fujian province when he gave the interview in 2000. At the time he was relatively unknown and not even a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It is not often but neither unusual that a governor of a Chinese province gives a long personal interview to a Chinese magazine. Looking back Xi Jinping gave the interview two years before the party leadership –known for its long-term planning – was to decide on younger candidates to be promoted at the party congress in 2002 and later – at the following party congress in 2007 – to select the possible successor of Hu Jintao in 2012. In 2007 Xi Jinping became a member of standing committee of the Politbureau, indicating he was to become Hu Jintao’s successor in 2012.
Giving the interview back in 2000, the purpose of Xi Jinping was hardly to make himself known as a potential young candidate for promotion. The party itself is fully aware of possible candidates for the party’s top positions and does not welcome reminders. Most likely Xi Jinping wanted to make sure that his background was fully understood, told properly and to stress three things: 1) During the Cultural Revolution he stayed for seven years in the countryside under difficult conditions and only by his own efforts became a member of the party and enrolled at university. That is to say not by political connections and in spite of the fact that his father at the time was under political criticism. 2) In 1982, he chose to give up a comfortable career in Beijing and instead started from the bottom as deputy secretary in a small provincial district. 3) To appear as a person in close contact to ordinary people.
The extraordinary thing about the interview is to hear what China’s new leader said in 2000 in an open and direct conversation. There is nothing unusual in what Xi Jinping said in 2000. Neither read in 2012. But we hear Xi Jinping tell about personal experiences in words he hardly would use today. We hear about his views on good governance, promotion of officials and corruption. The interview gives the reader a more authentic and unfiltered picture of the person to become China’s next leader.


Translators' reply

Xi Jinping: My road into politics.

Interview from the summer of 2000 in the Chinese journal Zhonghua Ernü.

Xi Jinping at the time was 47 years old and governor in the Fujian province.

Yang Xiaohuai was the editor of Zhonghua Ernü.


Copyright © 2000 by中华儿女,北京市朝阳区东三环南路98号韩建丹阳大厦15层,邮编:100021


Xi Jinping: Welcome here.[1] I have previously said no thank you to personal interviews innumerable times. We all have different tasks. If you do not mention everybody, then you are only emphasizing yourself. You can also put it differently: When we are all doing our duty within our respective area of responsibility, then it is the community that creates the results. Therefore it makes no sense mentioning the individual. That is the reason why I have refused giving personal interviews. There are also people who write autobiographies. I do not do that either.

Yang Xiaohuai: I thought so. That kind of thing can easily lead to misunderstandings.

Xi: Particularly if you look at the popular media. You write about a person’s background. Who are his parents? Who is he married to? He is such and such a person. What’s the use of that? That kind of information is not news. It is something everybody knows already. You make a little soup of it. It is immaterial.

Yang: Obviously that kind of publicity is immaterial and superfluous. But as a high-level official you are in the focus of the formation of public opinion. The press and the media can help people better understand your work. That kind of public mention I think is important.

Xi: Of course you can write about leading officials. To a certain extent. But you must preserve the sense of proportions. There is a tendency to write that a leading official is so and so perfect and so and so excellent, but in reality nobody is perfect and consummate. Take a person and describe him as excellent. Nobody will believe it. An individual’s ability to get results on his own is limited. Without the community and without cooperation you will achieve nothing. Therefore I believe that it is better to focus on the community and cooperation.

Yang: You recently took the post as governor of the Fujian province. What new political initiatives did you consider, and what parts of the politics in progress did you wish to continue?

Xi: When I became governor in August last year, the members of the provincial government emphasized two points: Firstly that I was to continue working on the foundations laid by the previous governor. It was my task seeing to it that the plans laid down at the beginning of the year were carried through. In addition I could come with my own plans. When you have just taken over a new job you will also want to set your own agenda in the first year. But it must be on the foundations of your predecessor. It is like a relay race. You have to receive the baton properly and then yourself run it in goal.

SUPRA stipends October

Eleonor Marcussen, PhD, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe”, & Dept. of History, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University
Topic: "Shaken Earth, Stirred People": The Politics of Relief and Reconstruction after the Bihar Earthquake 1934

Sanna Kopra, PhD, University of Tampere
Topic: China’s responsibility in international climate politics: a normative approach
Sumaira Saleem, Faculty if psychology, University of Bergen
Topic: Flood and socio-economic vulnerability: New dynamics in women’s lives in relation to gender in Pakistan

Katrine Herold visiting IIAS in Leiden

NIAS' project coordinator, Katrine Herold, is visiting IIAS (International Institute for Asian Studies) in Leiden this week. The purpose of the visit is to exchange ideas with colleagues in the same field, inspire each other and find new areas for further cooperation in the future.
NIAS and IIAS have previously worked together on several project, and we hope to be able to revitalize this cooperation.
As a part of the revived cooperation between IIAS and NIAS IIAS' Director Phillippe Peycam and Institute Manager Willem Vogelsang will participate in NIAS annual NNC conference which will be held 27-30 November in cooperation with CEMAT at Aalto University in Helsinki.
IIAS has kindly provided Katrine with the director's office, which used to be Queen Beatrix's office while she was a student at Leiden University.

IIAS Annual Lecture 2012 by NIAS Director Geir Helgesen

On 19 September 2012 Geir Helgesen gave the IIAS Annual Lecture.
The lecture was entitled "A Users Manual to North Korea -
Matters and issues that shape relations between them and us"

To se the full lecture, please follow the link