BCCDS-WG / KULeuven Campus Brussel lecture, October 2018:                                       "Chinese Media in a New Era of Disruption"

Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels, Hermes building, Room 6306

Date: 25 October 2018, 7-9 pm    

Sinologist, journalist and writer Catherine Vuylsteke in dialogue with David Bandurski, co-Director of the China Media Project, University of Hong Kong

As China set off on the path of economic reform in the late 1970s, one important aspect of the reform spirit was a rethink of the role of the press and its devastating complicity in the totalitarian politics of Mao Zedong and the cult of personality. During the first three decades of reform in China, journalists and others worked actively to reshape the relationship between media, society and the government. Since 2012, however, the Chinese Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping, has sought to reassert its dominance over information, in part using the very digital tools many thought could lead to greater freedom of information. In this interview, conducted by journalist Catherine Vuylsteke, the development of the Chinese media landscape provides the background for a dialogue with investigative journalist and researcher David Bandurski about key issues in Chinese media and politics today.

David L. Bandurski is co-director of the China Media Project, a research program in partnership with the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong specializing in media development and policy in the People’s Republic of China. He is the author of Dragons in Diamond Village (2016), a book of reportage on the plight of rural communities in China’s booming cities, and co-author of Investigative Journalism in China (2010).

Catherine Vuylsteke is writer, journalist, lecturer, filmmaker and China-expert. She authored several books about China, such as the Volksrepubliek van Verlangen (2007) and directed the documentary Silent Stories, shown on the Belgian TV channel Canvas (2011) and at international film festivals. Other publications, demonstrating her socio-political engagement, are Onder Mannen, het Verzwegen Leven van Marokkaanse Homo's (2008) en Vroeger is een Ander Land. Acht Aangespoelde Jonge Levens (2011).

Free of charge 


BCCDS-WG / KULeuven Campus Brussel lecture, May 2017:

"The Historical Development of Taiwanization of Buddhism after 1945: the Politics of Religion"

Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels, Hermes building, Room 6303

Date: May 18, 2017, 6:30-8pm    

Guest speaker:  dr. Cheming Yang, Associate Prof. Cheng Kung University, Taiwan; Taiwan Studies Chair, Fac. Soc. Sciences, KULeuven 

In this lecture, Prof. Yang will discuss the different types of Buddhism as practiced on the ROC (Taiwan). He traces the path of Japanese familial Buddhism, the rise of Chinese Mahayana Buddhist convention among Taiwanese Buddhist communities and the development of hybridized folk religion, based on Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. A focal point will be the role of discourse in the politics of promoting a particular brand of Buddhism, through the development and consolidation of Buddhist monasteries (i.e. Fokuangshan, Dharma Drum, Chung-tai, and Tsu Chi), against the backdrop of the emerging quasi-Buddhist denominations such as I-Kuan Tao, Ching-Hai or Falungong.  

This lecture is free of charge.



BCCDS-WG / KULeuven Campus Brussel lecture, June 2015: 

'The Asian Paradox: Cultures of Trade and Politics"


Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels, Hermes building, Room 6303

Date: June 25, 2015, 7-9 pm    

Guest speaker:  dr. Wolfgang Pape, Research Fellow Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) 

In this lecture, dr. Pape, former Principal Administrator for Asia-Policy, at EU Commission, DG RELEX-H1, will discuss the apparent paradox between the economic interdependence of the growth economies in Northeast Asia (China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan) and the tendency to preserve their national cultural identities.

The ‘Asian Paradox’ appears to be particularly evident in the North East of that continent if seen through European eyes. While one of the tightest networks of intra-regional trade binds the economies of China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, their political leaders hardly ever connect with each other in substantive exchanges. The media these days serve us permanently cold images of frozen faces and of an ‘icy lady’ that seem to contrast with the warm embraces, which their businesspeople frequently enjoy after successful deals over political borders.

However, is this the view only in the eyes of the European beholder, who is used to the myriad of regular institutionalised meetings at all political and bureaucratic levels of the EU? Northeast Asia comprises two of the three biggest national economies in the world and on the basis of their interdependence economically flourishes -- exception for Japan -- with GDP growth-rates above OECD average. At the same time, in view of unresolved historical legacies their leading politicians still feel forced to keep frozen faces for the mass media because of voters’ gazes of self-instilled nationalisms back home. Homogeneous cultures of Confucianism and shame rather than guilt, notably on the islands and the peninsula, maintain a very high level of national identity, in spite of a growing awareness of economic interdependence and globalization. Even conservative schoolbooks and dominant mainstream media cannot refute these trends anymore. Rather, human relations beyond ‘per-sona-lities’ but by ‘ningen’ through ‘guanxi’ bind business deals overcoming artificial national rivalries. While not through the ideal of ‘com-petition’ of Western markets, East-Asian economies traditionally exchange goods and services more by establishing their common commercial interests. The proposed presentation will explore the above issues with concrete evidence and examples, notwithstanding the author’s perspective as an outside observer from Europe.

The lecture is free of charge. 



BCCDS-WG / KULeuven Campus Brussel lecture, December 2014: 

'A Critical Study of Chinese Political Discourse: the Case of Taiwanese Presidential Speeches'


Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels, Hermes building, Room 6303

Date: December 04, 7-9 pm    

Guest speakers:  Prof.dr. Wei-lun Lu, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic; Prof.dr. Lutgard Lams, KULeuven Campus Brussels

The lecture is free of charge. 

In the first lecture, Wei-lun Lu will discuss how Cognitive Linguistics, as a linguistic sub-discipline that gives special focus on how language is used to create a construal, is applied to critically investigate Chinese Political Discourse. The first part of the talk lays the theoretical groundwork, where dr. Lu will introduce the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor. In the second part, he will discuss how CMT can be applied to investigating Taiwanese presidential speeches.

The second lecture deals with the dynamics of meaning generation in the ROC/Taiwan nation-building process against the background of regionalization and globalization tendencies. Based on the insights of Language Pragmatics, Lutgard Lams will trace ideological processes of ‘Taiwanization’ and ‘Sinicization’ in Taiwanese presidential speeches.


BCCDS-WG, KULeuven Campus Brussels, in collaboration with EEAS (European External Action Service, EU Commission), November 2014: 

Seminar: Totalitarian/authoritarian discourse across time and space

Venue: Berlaymont building (EU Commission), Salle Cinéma, Wetstraat/                                  Rue de la Loi, 200, 1000 Brussels

Date: 13 November, 16:30-18:30 pm    

Guest speakers:   Lutgard Lams, Rüta Petrauskaité, Ko Ko Thett

Registration necessary: please, send a message to by 06/11/2014

Totalitarian/authoritarian discourse contains an explicit emphasis on the Party's or Leader's monopoly on truth and aims at creating a collective identity directed towards a common enemy. Such is one of the findings of a recent study about common traits of the totalitarian discourse across cultures, geographical areas and historical periods, which is detailed in the book “Totalitarian/authoritarian discourses; a global and timeless phenomenon?" edited by Lutgard Lams, Geert Crauwels, and Henrieta Serban and recently published by Peter Lang Publ. 

At this seminar, also open to EU officials, three contributors to the volume will present their views on totalitarian/authoritarian discourse in China, Myanmar, and the former Soviet Union, addressing the following questions. What are the common characteristics and main functions of totalitarian/authoritarian discourse? In what form does totalitarian/authoritarian discourse survive after democratization and to what extent can it impede democratization? Why is deciphering discourse important for policy-makers?

Registration necessary: please, send a message to by 06/11/2014

Short bios

Lutgard Lams is Professor in the Department of Languages and Literature, Faculty of Arts at the KU Leuven Campus Brussel, where she teaches Pragmatics, Media Discourse Analysis and Intercultural Communication. Her research interests include political communication and the dynamics of language and ideology in media discourse. Given her extensive teaching experience in East-Asia, she focuses on discourses in and about the greater Chinese region.

Rüta Petrauskaité is Professor at two departments of Vytautas Magnus University: the Department of Lithuanian Language, Faculty of Humanities, and the Department of Public Communications, Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy. She is also Chair of the Committee of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Research Council of Lithuania. She studied and worked at the university in Vilnius in the Soviet times. Her research interest comprise a range of topics from lexical semantics, computational linguistics, to text and discourse analysis.

Ko Ko Thett is a Burma/Myanmar researcher, poet and literary translator. Ko Ko Thett grew up in Burma. He left the country in 1997 after a brief detention for his role in the 1996 December student uprising in Yangon. Currently he is a post-graduate student of Cultures and Development Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leuven.


BCCDS-WG / HUB Lecture, 2014: 

'Discourse of the China Dream: what, why and how?' 


Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels (HUB), Hermes building, Room 6303

Date: April 24, 7-9 pm    

Guest speaker:  Prof.dr. Tao Xie, School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University

The lecture is free of charge. It is organized in collaboration with the Vereniging België-China (VBC), Brussels

The Chinese people have dreams too, just like other peoples around the world. But the China Dream has never been as powerfully and eloquently articulated as the American dream, until President Xi Jinping came into power in 2012. In this talk, Prof. Xie will examine the China Dream in the broad context of rhetorical campaigns by Chinese leaders since Deng Xiaoping. From Jiang Zeming's Three Represents to Hu Jintao's Harmonious Society to the most recent China Dream, each rhetorical campaign represents not only the top leader's attempts to distinguish his tenure from his predecessors, but also different governance challenges faced by each top leader. The talk will analyze in particular the instruments of communication that have been employed by the Chinese government to promote the China dream, as well as foreign and domestic perceptions of the China Dream.


More info:


BCCDS-WG / HUB Lecture, 2013: 

'Different Perspectives on Intellectual Property Rights in China-EU Trade Talks' 

Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels (HUB), Hermes building, Room 6303

Date: December 05, 6-8 pm

Guest speaker:  Mr Benoît Lory, EU Commission D-G for Trade, Policy Officer and Trade Negotiator responsible for intellectual property issues with China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Mongolia

The lecture is free of charge

In today’s world policy makers in charge of intellectual property (IP) protection are faced with two major challenges: (1) creating an IP framework which adapts and keeps pace with the rapid changes in technology and markets and (2) get policy right on protection and enforcement of IP rights not only in the EU but equally in countries outside the EU. Moreover, in a globalized economy and with businesses increasingly relying on global supply chains, lack of proper IP protection in some jurisdictions can dramatically affect their business.

China is the EU’s first trading partner. The EU exported goods worth € 144 Bn in 2012, while goods exported to the EU by China are worth € 291 Bn. China has made significant efforts over the last years to improve its IPR rules and regulations; nevertheless, from a European perspective, China remains an important challenge in the area of intellectual property rights. 65% of all counterfeit goods seized at European borders in 2012 came from China. Seven in ten European businesses operating in China say that they have been the victim of IPR violations.

The aim of the conference is to clarify the European perspective on the development in the Chinese system. Are there any differences in perspectives on the concept of IP? How is the EU cooperating with China on IP issues and how does that benefit the European companies?

More info:


BCCDS-WG / HUB Lecture, 2013: 'Diversity underlying surface similarity: a debate of values - Case study: Changing Asian values of Shanghai and Beijing managers?'

Venue: KULeuven Campus Brussels (HUB), Hermes building, Room 6303

Date: November 07, 6-8 pm

Guest speaker: Prof. dr. Thomas Herdin, University of Salzburg,  Austria

The lecture is free of charge


Trends increasingly get an international character. Lifestyles and behavioral patterns are more and more copied across cultural groups. And yet, this apparent similarity masks underlying diversity.  At the surface, values are different from those at a deeper level.

Prof.dr. Thomas Herdin conducted surveys in two Chinese mega-cities (Beijing and Shanghai) and asked local managers about their identity, lifestyle, communication style in their working environment as well as private life.  Upon invitation by the Brussels Center for Chinese Discourse Studies, Thomas Herdin will discuss findings of his recent study on changing Asian values. He will propose a framework for intercultural communication, which serves as an applicable instrument and allows addressing the important questions of cultural understanding and intercultural competence in the context of globalization.     


More info:


BCCDS-WG / HUB Lecture, 2013: 'Progress of Cross-Strait Integration betweenChina and Taiwan: Are Models of European Integration Relevant?'

Guest speaker: Prof.dr. David Huang, Academia Sinica, Taipei; National Taiwan University (Graduate Institute of National Development Studies), Taipei


Venue: HUB, Hermesbuilding, Room 6303

Date: July 02, 6-8 pm

*The lecture is free of charge, but, please, confirm your attendance by June 27 (

This lecture assesses the current progress of cross-strait integration (between China/Taiwan) in light of various models of European integration. It will highlight implementation shortfalls and asymmetrical impacts of various cross-strait integration schemes on average Taiwanese citizens and will demonstrate two conflicting trends of institution and identity building in Taiwan. Institutionally speaking, cross-strait integration consolidates the distinction of administrative jurisdiction between China and Taiwan, while it ‘de-sovereignizes’ Taiwan as a state in international affairs. Attitudinally speaking, cross-strait integration has an unintended effect on average people by strengthening their own Taiwan identity, while anticipating the inevitability of unification with China. The lecture will conclude by asking whether European experiences can help to explain the above conflicting trends of integration across the Taiwan Strait.



BCCDS-WG / HUB Lecture, 2012: ‘The Renminbi as New Top World Currency?', Guest Speaker: Prof.dr. Em. Sylvain Plasschaert, University of Antwerp, Catholic University of Louvain


Venue: HUB, Hermesbuilding, Room 6303

Date: Dec. 05, 5:30-7 pm

*The lecture is free of charge. We are particularly grateful for the encouraging collaboration with the Faculty of Economics & Management, HUB


The lecture will be chaired by Prof. Lutgard Lams (HUB, BCCDS-WG Convener)


In this lecture, Prof.dr. Emeritus Sylvain Plasschaert, long-time scholar of the Chinese economy will shed some light on the likelihood of the Chinese Renminbi becoming a top world currency. Indeed, the use of the Renminbi outside China itself spreads rapidly. This phenomenon is linked to China's burgeoning international trade.  Yet, 'internationalization' (of a currency) occurs in several guises and degrees. The emergence of offshore markets for the Renminbi, principally in Hong Kong, is striking, the more that the Chinese currency is not convertible on capital account.  In due time, the Renminbi  may become a major reserve currency in a revamped multipolar international monetary system.





BCCDS-WG /HUB Lecture, 2012: 'Perception and Functioning of IPR in China', Guest speaker: Dr. Li Yi, School of Public Affairs, University of Science and Technology of China
Venue: HUB, Hermesbuilding, Room 8120
Date    : March 12, 4-5:30 pm
                      *The lecture is free of charge. We are particularly grateful for the encouraging collaboration with the CIR-KU Leuven.
Further to the discussion at the exploratory workshop, the 1st BCCDS-Contact Forum in 2010, the existing gap between the implementation, functioning and discourses on IPR issues in China remains considerably large. European and Chinese legal scholars and IPR lawyers who follow BCCDS-WG's research interests recognize the fact there is a constant and slow convergence on IPR concepts between China and the West. However, more endeavors for bridging such a gap are also deemed necessary among concerned parties in the "glocalization" context. In this regard, BCCDS-WG devoted one of its lectures in 2012 to a further exploration of the question about "Perception and Functioning of IPR in China".
The lecture will be co-chaired by Prof. Frank Gotzen (Centrum voor Intellectuele Rechten -CIR / KU Leuven) and Prof. Lutgard Lams (HUB, BCCDS-WG Convener).
BCCDS-WG / HUB Lecture, 2011:  "Legal reform in China, Bird in a cage? "

Guest Speaker: Prof. Brian J. Yao, Beijing Normal University (Zhuhai)/Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

Venue: HUB, Hermes 4109

Date: 24 May 2011, 10:30-12:00

After more than thirty years of legal reform in China, it seems the reform has been slowing down in recent years. In March 2011, Chinese National Congress Standing Committee’s Chairman Wu Bangguo announced that China already established (as planned) a legal system with Chinese socialist characteristics. Does that mean that China does no longer need legal reform? Some people even think there is less motivation for Chinese to continue legal reform. What is the major concern for legal reform in China now? By analyzing the aims of legal reform in China, its achievements and challenges, and the current social and political situation, we may draw some possible answers for the future’s legal reform in China. Among them one answer is clear that legal reform in China is at a new cross road. If China takes the right direction, the new legal reform may help Chinese society enter another level of development and may help the developing world find a new way to reform. Otherwise, it will make China stop its development or even worse. How to find its new aim and make a new agreement among the whole society is the key issue.

 Brian J. Yao, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University Law School, Partner, Dacheng Law Office (Guangzhou), Adjunctive Professor,  Beijing Normal University (Zhuhai) and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.  Co-Founder and first Executive Director, Constitutional law and Human Rights Law Committee of Guangdong Bar Association.  LL. M, Peking University Law School, LL.B, Heilongjiang University Law School.