Introducing Dr Nicola Horsburgh

9780198706113_140The global management of nuclear weapons and the ascendancy of China in international affairs pose two of the greatest challenges for international security today. Yet we know relatively little about the nuclear dimension of China’s rise, and the extent to which China has shaped global nuclear politics.

This new book, published in February 2015 by Oxford University Press, offers insight into these issues by offering an empirically rich study of Chinese nuclear weapons behaviour and the impact of this behaviour on global nuclear politics since 1949. In particular, the book advances the argument that, in the 1960s and 1970s, Maoist China –at the time highly critical of superpower attempts to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons– had a greater hand than previously thought in indirectly creating global nuclear order. Since then, China has become a fully-fledged member of global nuclear order, playing a direct and pivotal role in regional and global nuclear politics.

The book also offers theoretical reflections upon nuclear weapons and global order. The concept of global nuclear order is relatively new, but it has become popular among academics and policymakers working in the nuclear field. It is certainly an innovative lens through which to consider China as a nuclear weapons state because it draws attention to the inner workings –institutional and normative—of nuclear politics. It is also timely: the challenges to global nuclear order today are numerous, from Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions to the growing threat of nuclear terrorism. This book considers these challenges from a Chinese perspective, exploring how far Beijing has gone to the aid of nuclear order in addressing these issues.

Dr Nicola Horsburgh

Dr Nicola Horsburgh received an ESRC BICC scholarship to fund an MPhil in Modern Chinese Studies and DPhil in International Relations at Oxford University from 2006 to 2011. She is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford. Dr Horsburgh is also a Stipendiary Lecturer in International Relations at Trinity College, Oxford, a BA Fellow in the Asian Studies Centre at St. Antony’s College and a research associate of the Oxford China Centre

The BICC played an important role in funding the research that lies at the heart of this book. From 2006 to 2011, Nicola was a BICC student (MPhil and DPhil) at the University of Oxford. Through this funding, she was able to conduct extended fieldwork in China and the United States, serving as a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and as a pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, USA.



Introducing Dr Andrew Wormald

Wormald_PhotoMy Ph.D. was completed at the University of Bristol with support from the British Inter-University China Centre’s language based area studies scheme. As such, I was very fortunate to receive a year of language training at Peking University, and further training in reading classical Chinese Buddhist texts with my supervisor, Dr. John Kieschnick, in Bristol. My thesis, entitled ‘Voices of Experience: Modernity and Buddhist Meditation in Republican-era China,’ examines Chinese Buddhism’s response to the intellectual and political reconstructions which took place at the beginning of twentieth century. It looks at the writings of a number of important Buddhist figures from the period, examines the discourse taking place in the then newly emerging Buddhist journals, and compares these findings with current scholarly consensus regarding Buddhism’s adaptation to the modern period. I am currently working on converting this thesis into a monograph, and am preparing a journal article on the prominent reformist monk Shi Yuanying’s presentation of The Awakening of Faith in Mahāyāna. My intention, moreover, is to continue the research developed during my Ph.D., and I am therefore working on a project to investigate the reception of classical Buddhist mediation manuals in Republican era Buddhist journals, and the manner in which Buddhist meditation was secularised and made part of the self-strengthening discourse at this time.

Introducing Holly Snape

HollyI have always had a deep interest in Chinese culture, since as far back as I can remember. This grew to become a strong interest in the country’s language, society, and politics. What the BICC PhD scholarship has given me is an opportunity to develop an academic-based career and a life for myself in China.

Today, working in Beijing for the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau (CCTB) – a bureau directly under the Central Committee of the CPC – I have a job that I find fascinating, that challenges me, and that gives me great room to further develop my understanding of China. I work in a team of exceptionally skilled translators and scholars, and since starting at the Bureau in July 2014, have already had the opportunity to work on the translation of a book by President Xi Jinping and the official translation of the resolution from the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

When asked recently by a friend, inspired by all the talk of the Chinese Dream, “What’s your dream Holly?”, I had to reply that, right now, this career, in the very heart of central Beijing, is what I had dreamt of. The position I am in today is in no small part due to the support of the BICC and its own leading China experts, particularly Professor Robert Bickers who has always offered me his kind advice and encouragement.

It was in 2007 while carrying out research for an MSc at the University of Bristol on Chinese grassroots NGOs that I realized how integral Chinese language would be if I wanted to develop a solid understanding of this almost impenetrably complex but vibrant area of activity in mainland China. My supervisor at that time, Dr Rachel Murphy, was a source of inspiration for me in this respect. The BICC enabled me to devote time to studying language at Peking University, which in turn helped me to secure another opportunity I remain deeply grateful for: to study at Tsinghua University’s NGO Research Center. Here, I was able to learn alongside scholars currently engaged in some of the country’s most cutting edge research on Chinese NGOs, and to gain invaluable guidance from leading expert, Professor Wang Ming, who has always been hugely generous in offering me his time and support.

The empirical work for my PhD thesis, titled “The Chinese Dream of the Good Society: Social & Political Transformation explored through the Quiet Approach of Grassroots NGOs,” led me to work at and research local grassroots NGOs, some of which I continue to work for today. All of this – my position at the CCTB, the academic foundation I draw on in this job, the great teachers I have gained and friends I have made at both Tsinghua and through BICC, the opportunity I have found to work with some truly inspiring NGO practitioners, and ultimately the career and the life I was looking for in China, which I hope in its own small way might contribute to fostering positive relations between Britain and China – all of this was made possible by the support of the BICC.

20 Years After the Aum Subway Attack

aum picture


5:30-7:00 pm , March 18 th,

2015, John Casken Theatre, Martin Harris Centre, The University of Manchester.

March 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Aum Affair, when members of the religious group Aum Shinrikyō released sarin poison gas in Tokyo. The affair had huge repercussions in legal, social, political and cultural terms in Japan and beyond as authorities sought to balance the liberal democratic freedoms with demands for heightened control of potentially “dangerous” groups.

This round-table brings together leading experts on the Aum Affair to discuss the incident and its aftermath, examining such topics as how to strike a balance between religious and political freedom and social safety; what are appropriate legal and social responses to terrorism; how best to commemorate and remember acts of violence; and what wider lessons can be learned from the Japanese experience.


This roundtable takes place as a collaboration and with funding support from the BICC and the White Rose East Asia Centre.



Tatsuya Mori (Documentary filmmaker, TV director and author),

Mark Mullins (Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Auckland),

Mark Pendleton (Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Sheffield),

Ian Reader (Professor of Religious Studies, Lancaster University)

Erica Baffelli (Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Manchester).