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Scott Kennedy
Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New research center is at the crossroads between Chinese business and politics


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- At a time when stories about recalls of Chinese products such as toys, toothpaste and food are making headlines, a new research center has been established at Indiana University to help scholars and business professionals better understand the complexity of China's rapidly expanding economy and evolving political system.

IU's interdisciplinary Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business includes nearly a dozen faculty members from the Indianapolis and Bloomington campuses. They come from IU's College of Arts and Sciences, Kelley School of Business, School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the IU School of Law-Indianapolis.

Guosheng Deng, from Tsinghua University -- who directs the leading organization dedicated to the study of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society in China -- is the center's first visiting scholar. He and the IU center's director, Scott Kennedy, are jointly studying business lobbying in China. Junmin Wang, who received her doctorate in sociology from New York University for her research on China's evolving state-owned sector, is the center's first postdoctoral fellow.

Kennedy, who also is an associate professor in IU's East Asian languages and cultures and political science departments, said the new center is dedicated to bringing more attention to research issues at the crossroads between politics and business in China.

That includes foreign investment and trade with China, how its economic changes are affecting the political system there and how its regulatory system will change as a result of its role as a global supply-chain provider.

"All one has to do is look at questions about toys and food and other items to know that China's regulatory systems are being challenged severely by being a part of the global economy," Kennedy said.

In addition to organizing lectures and faculty roundtables and conferences, the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business is planning an outreach initiative to business professionals and internationalists in Indiana and the Midwest.

"We'll have some events in Indianapolis, Chicago and also in Beijing," Kennedy said.

Earlier this month, the center co-organized public events in Indianapolis and Bloomington to present Robert Kapp, the former president of the U.S.-China Business Council. He sits on the center's 10-member advisory board.

"China is one of the fastest growing export markets for products from Indiana, whether it's agricultural or manufacturing," Kennedy said. "But at the same time, it could grow faster and we could adopt policies that also help Indiana businesses adjust to cooperating and competing with China.

"The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is quite interested in helping companies from Indiana do business with and in China. They're not only helping to promote trade with China, but they're also trying to attract investment from China in Indiana," he added. "It's easier said than done. In addition to knowing the economics of your industry, you also have to know how to deal with a country of 1.3 billion people with very different cultural and political backgrounds.

"We hope to be able to engage with businesses at the most basic levels that everyone should know, as well as at a very high level with companies that are already doing a lot of business with China but need to keep up with market and political intelligence that might affect their investment."

More information about the center is available online at its Web site at or by calling 812-856-0451.