I am a sinologist, art historian, and foreign policy analyst. I graduated in Chinese Studies with Japanese from the University of Durham, UK, and earned my M.A. from SOAS, University of London, whereupon I joined Christie’s as an expert for Chinese porcelain and works of art, as well as an auctioneer. I studied and worked extensively in China over three decades, and have co-founded and managed multiple start-up companies and projects. While living in Bogota, I began lecturing on the modern history, politics and economy of China and East Asia at several universities, including CESA Business School and Los Andes University. I embarked on a PhD in political studies and completed the degree in late 2015 with a dissertation on China’s foreign policy towards Latin America, under the supervision of Qin Yaqing (China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing) and Matt Ferchen (Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, Beijing). After a short stint as advisor to the International Relations Department of the Mayor of Bogota, I took up the position of Postdoctoral Fellow for China-U.S.-Latin American Affairs at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, before moving over to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
In early 2020, I was privileged to travel and teach aboard the MV World Odyssey as CY Tung Faculty Scholar for Semester at Sea. I now reside in my native Germany where I continue my research on Chinese foreign policy, and teach an online course on Chinese politics at Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Peru.
In my research, I concentrate on political and cultural aspects of China’s relationship with the countries of Latin America. As a case study in international relations in the 21st century, it illustrates the role a rising global power can play through its multidimensional diplomacy and its foreign policy, as well as the impact of non-state actors, especially corporations. My work is informed by having lived both in China and in Latin America for the greater part of the past three decades, and as a sinologist, historian, and political scientist, I bring a varied toolbox to the study of that relationship. Three themes run through my work: (1) the analysis of China's foreign policy towards Latin America, in its discursive and long-term strategic dimensions, (2) the evolution of China’s diplomatic strategy, and (3) the significance of discourse and meaning in Beijing's foreign policy.
China’s relations with Latin America have emerged as a highly dynamic growth area, and economic analyses on the relationship abound. But there is more to this transpacific exchange than goods and money: it also offers new perspectives and opportunities. Inasmuch as the countries of Latin America face the challenges of rising inequality, inadequate physical integration, low education and skills levels, and environmental degradation, Chinese experience and strategic interests have the potential to either exacerbate or mitigate these issues.
But does China’s multidimensional diplomacy and its emphasis on facilitating knowledge transfer and the provision of public goods present a genuine and viable alternative to the Western approach to development? What lessons can China’s own experience of strong infrastructure growth and high educational and economic achievement offer to the region? What do these efforts emanating from a highly state-centric economy mean for traditional actors such as local elites and other foreign stakeholders, such as the United States or the European Union? These and related questions guide my work.