The Vrije Universiteit Brussel launches the ‘Brussels Academy of China and European Studies’ – BACES – in Beijing. BACES is a new academic platform in Brussels.This is a collaboration between Renmin University of China, Fudan University Sichuan University, and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The Vice-Premier of China (since 2013), LIU Yandong (responsible for education, sports and culture), and EU Commissioner Androulla VASSILIOU (responsible for education, culture, multilingualism and youth) officially inaugurated BACES, and presented the four rectors with the nameplate on 6 September 2014 in the reputed Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing.
(Photos in the attachments: logo BACES and reception at the Embassy, with VUB Vice-Rector international policy, Jan Cornelis, in the centre, and delegation leader, VUB Rector Paul De Knop, on the right.)
The agreement of BACES had already been signed by four rectors in Brussels on the occasion of the official visit of President Xi Jinping to Brussels in March 2014. BACES is planning a range of joint activities, includingjoint master and PhD programmes, seminars and courses.Research on contemporary China and the China-EU relationship are the central focus of BACES.The VUB is thus building further on, among others, the results of the BICCS research group (Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies) and on the IUTT project dealing with knowledge transfer in the context of international university collaboration with China.
Rector Paul De Knop:“The cooperation with these top Chinese universities is a major step in the knowledge exchange with China, and, for us, confirms the potential of this great and powerful country for Belgium.”

Cultural and social diversity

BACES is fully in line with the initiative that was taken by Mrs. LIU Yandong and Mrs. Androulla VASSILIOU to launch and develop the “High Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD)” between China and the EU.HPPD was, in fact, also extended for a period of two years in a communiqué signed by Liu and Vassiliou during the BACES inauguration ceremony.VUB Professor of International Relations, Gustaaf Geeraerts:
“The HPPD is an initiative that acts as a role model in a world community in which global governance must increasingly take account of the growing cultural and social diversity resulting from the rising influence of the so-called emerging countries.”

Lasting relationship between the EU and China

BACES is a major step to support the HPPD in building a lasting relationship between the EU and China.Vice-Rector Jan Cornelis:“Although the EU and China represent the second most important economic relationship in the world (after the relationship between the USA and Europe), they are very different in culture, historical development and social organisation.This often leads to tensions and misunderstandings. The aim of the BACES institute is to create a solid, yet critical basis for HPPD through scientific research.Through intensive exchanges between the two societies, we hope to contribute to a growing mutual understanding and improved relations between China and Europe in the long term.”
BACES is currently supported by a Chair sponsored by the Chinese multinational Huawei Technologies (Netherlands) B.V. – Belgian branch.Director of International Relations and Mobility, Jacqueline Couder:“Freedom of research is a central aspect, and BACES fully supports VUB’s vision regarding internationalisation, which is very important for VUB as a strategic option.”

Double degree

The VUB delegation in China visited the China Scholarship Council (CSC) in Beijing on Thursday, 4 September.Since 2006, the VUB has been receiving students via CSC, who then follow a four-year PhD at the VUB.The double degree programme in ICT-Multimedia offered by the VUB and the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an will also be supported by ten scholarships from now on.Joint PhDs will also receive additional support through CSC scholarships.Director VUB China Network, TONG Xiaohong:“VUB has recently launched a bilingual English-Chinese VUB-China Network website in which all the relevant information regarding partners and cooperation opportunities is presented to students and staff both internally and externally.”

30 Olympic gold medals

Rector and sports sociologist, Paul De Knop, heads the delegation in China.He found the visit to the Beijing Sports University (BSU) on Friday afternoon, 5 September impressive.It’s the best top-sports university in China.In the last four Olympic Games, professors and students from this university won no less than 30 gold, 16 silver and 9 bronze medals.Rector De Knop:‘It is a magnificent university.It demonstrates in an overwhelming manner that it’s possible to create a foundation for a successful top-sports climate based on science.”Vice-Rector, Jan Cornelis, an engineer himself:”I’m full of admiration for the exceptional instrumentation of the BSU, which is able to measure every aspect of the kinematics and dynamics of athletes in a non-invasive manner.”
Friday was concluded by a walking dinner with VUB partners at the Belgian Embassy in the evening.At the invitation of the VUB, a varied group of rectors, vice-rectors, deans, academics, government policymakers and alumni were received.About 100 Chinese participants and EU officials were welcomed by the Ambassador.According to Ambassador, Michel Malherbe, never before had so many senior academics from various corners of China been brought together at the Embassy.

VUB delegation members:

Paul De Knop, Rector
Jan Cornelis, Vice-Rector international policy
Jacqueline Couder, Director International relations and mobility – IRMO
Gustaaf Geeraerts, Professor international relations – director BICCS and BACES
Zhu Chang, Professor of educational sciences at VUB – director ECHE
Xiahong Tong, Director of the VUB China Network