Statecraft for transferring business knowledge from Europe to China

While we are on the topic of Europe-China higher education linkages this week, the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai announced, on 30 November, that it was receiving €10.1 million from the European Union (EU) to support a “Europe-China Business Management Training Project”. The Shanghai Municipal Government is also providing “substantial funding in support of this project”. In its broadest sense the initiative “will bring a number of new developments to CEIBS, focusing on the central goal of transferring high level, practically-oriented business knowledge from the EU to China”.

CEIBS was established in 1994 at the height of the rapid changes in Shanghai’s economic landscape, and concurrent changes in the development of the EU’s relations with East Asia, especially China. CEIBS is now regarded as one of ‘Asia’s’ leading business schools, though it is actually a not-for-profit joint venture established by the European Commission and the PRC Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC), with funding and other forms of contributions from the Shanghai Municipal Government, the EU, Shanghai Jiaotong University, and the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). Further details on CEIBS are available here.

euasia.jpgThis funding announcement has to be viewed in the context of the European Commission’s Asia Regional Strategy (2007-2013), which focuses on three “priority areas:

1) Support to Regional Integration, the key dialogue partners for the EU being Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN regional forum (ARF) and South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC).

2) Policy and Know-How based Cooperation in:
(i) Environment, Energy and Climate Change, through Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP-Asia) and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme;
(ii) Higher Education and Support to Research Institutes;
(iii) Cross-border Cooperation in Animal and Human Health;

3) Support to Uprooted People.

The EU notes that €5.187 billion has been dedicated to fund this strategy for the 2007-2013 period.

A country-specific strategy (EU-China: Closer partners, growing responsibilities) for China is even more relevant with respect to this particular funding announcement. As the November 2006 strategy document puts it:

  • Education has been an area of particular success, with 170 000 Chinese students studying in the EU in 2005. We should continue to build on existing co-operation through programmes run by individual Member States and through the China-specific strand of the Erasmus Mundus programme. There have been positive examples of work to set up joint degree courses and joint campuses. We should also implement specific projects such as a European Law School. Both sides will continue to encourage EU students to study in China. To strengthen language capability, the Commission will support a specific programme to train Chinese language teachers to teach in Europe.
  • Academic expertise in the EU on China needs to be improved and co-ordinated more effectively. Action is needed by both sides to support effective interaction between European and Chinese academia. The Commission should continue to support an academic network on China, drawing together academic expertise to inform EU policy and coordinating information-sharing within the academic community; and there should be a small number of prestigious professorships on Chinese studies created and made available to European universities. There should be a permanent regular dialogue between European and Chinese think tanks.

This strategy then needs to be linked to key events such as the 10th China-EU Summit (held on 28 November 2007).

This is yet another example of the articulation of state agendas regarding higher education as ‘soft power’, ‘capacity builder’, and development mechanism. Through initiatives like this inter-regional networks are being built with the aim of propelling multi-scalar development processes. One can detect, however, that it is the amorphous regional (in Europe) and the more specific skilled labour/Shanghai/national (in China) scales that are being differentially prioritized.

Kris Olds