Looking back on the launch

The LeidenAsiaCentre was officially launched on 27 January. The attendees were welcomed by executive director Prof. Frank Pieke who gave a short presentation about the aims, activities and approach of the Centre. This was followed by two inspired speeches by prof. Sebastian Heilmann, Director of the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin (MERCIS) and professor Political Economy of China at the University of Trier, and Dr Ben Knapen, member of the Dutch Senate, respectively.

About the LeidenAsiaCentre

Frank Pieke started by showing a motion graphic (1 min) about the LeidenAsiaCentre, after which he went on to talk about the Centre’s ambitions and activities in more detail.


Ben Knapen

The speakers reflected on the role and necessity of think tanks and knowledge sharing beyond academia from their respective area of expertise. An increasing importance is attached to area studies outside the academic world. 

Sebastian Heilmann (right) Frank Pieke (left)

Non-academic partners are in need of independent scientific research about regions such as Asia. Think tanks and institutions such as the LeidenAsiaCentre can offer solutions to this need, and are equally important in order to help raise the level of awareness and lower the level of prejudice.

Book presentation

Eric JanZürcher (right) Mr. Gan Tek (left)

The third speaker was Prof. Erik Jan Zürcher who presented the new book “Het Verre Oosten. Oog in Oog met het China van Mao”. This book documents the letters and experiences of his late father Professor Erik Zürcher about communist China in the sixties. After the presentation prof. Zürcher handed the book to Mr Gan Tek, who accompanied his father in China in the sixties.


The LeidenAsiaCentre is the Netherlands’ expertise centre for socially relevant and applicable knowledge on modern East Asia, including Singapore.

Societal partners

The LeidenAsiaCentre works together with societal partners in the Netherlands to identify relevant research topics and to formulate the most appropriate – in some cases supplementary – research questions. This will create knowledge that responds to a direct societal need. The Centre itself will be responsible for the research, which will be carried out by independent researchers and other experts and consultants both within and outside the Netherlands. We also collaborate actively with our partners in disseminating the results of this research.

Research mission and research themes

In what ways is Asia important for the Netherlands, and what does the Netherlands mean for Asia?

Our research will contribute to strengthening and improving the relations and understanding between people, organisations and governments in Asia and the Netherlands. As the expertise centre for modern Asia in the Netherlands, the LeidenAsiaCentre focuses primarily on East Asia: China (including Taiwan), Japan, Korea and Singapore. At a later stage we will expand our activities, first to South East Asia and in particular Indonesia, and in the longer term to other Asiatic regions.

Structured research

In selecting and further developing our research we focus on those aspects that are specifically relevant for the Netherlands and ultimately for Europe. The emphasis is on the nature and consequences of globalisation that are leading to ever greater interconnectivity between Asia and Europe. This encompasses the broadest range of relations between the Netherlands and Asia, including the economy, politics and diplomacy, as well as society and culture. We have structured our research and other activities under three broad themes. A theme determines the direction and goals for prolonged deployment of our resources and is given concrete form by means of a number of specific projects. Each project is relatively short-term (between one and one-and-a-half years), seeks insights on concrete questions and is developed and implemented in discussion with specific partners in society.


If you are interested in the research of the LeidenAsiaCentre or in a possible partnership, please contact us via info@leidenasiacentre.nl or by telephone: 071-527 2541.

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Published On: February, 2016