Demystifying China



Shazeda Ahmed, Xinru Ma, Julien de Troullioud de Lanversin

Date and Time

April 16, 2020 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


RSVP Required.


Virtual Seminar

Livestream: Registration is required and will close 24 hours before the event. Click here to register.

This event is available only to CISAC faculty, fellows, staff, and honors students.


About this Event: Jeopardizing U.S. research enterprises, provoking regional nationalism, and building a technological panopticon to rate every citizen's behavior: these assumptions about China fuel US foreign policy shadow-boxing with misplaced concerns. Our panel challenges prevalent narratives on China, providing informed, nuanced investigations that cut across a range of research methods. Julien de Troullioud's argues that the rise of China in science and technology is not a threat to the US but instead an opportunity to jointly work to solve global issues. Data shows that the current policies to protect the US research enterprise in science is hurting American and international scientific research. Xinru Ma finds that nationalism in China and in Southeast Asia are not necessarily all anti-foreign, and is more of a liability rather than an asset for domestic regimes, according to evidences from formal modeling and social media data. Shazeda Ahmed's interviews with Chinese government officials, tech firm representatives, and legal scholars reveal that the Chinese social credit system is more limited in its data collection and fragmented in its on-the-ground implementation than the dystopic institution its foreign critics presume it to be. Our research presents new data and fresh perspectives for rethinking US-China dynamics.


About the Speakers:

Shazeda Ahmed is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley who researches how tech firms and the Chinese government are collaboratively constructing the country's social credit system. She will be joining CISAC and the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence in Fall 2019 as a pre-doctoral Fellow. Shazeda has worked as a researcher for the Citizen Lab, the Mercator Institute for China Studies, and the Ranking Digital Rights corporate transparency review by New America. In the 2018-19 academic year she was a Fulbright fellow at Peking University's law school.


Xinru Ma is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Political Science and International Relations (POIR) program at University of Southern California, and will join CISAC as a Postdoctoral Fellow for 2019-2020. Originally from China, Xinru is interested in combining formal modeling and computational social science with research on nationalist protests and maritime disputes, with a regional focus on East and Southeast Asia. Her research is informed by extensive field research in Vietnam, Philippines and China, during which she interviewed protestors, think tanks, diplomats, government officials, and foreign business owners that were impacted by nationalist protests. In addition to informing her of the complicated strategic interaction between mass mobilization, government repression and foreign policy-making, the field research further motivated her to focus on the methodological challenges for causal inference that stem from strategic conflict behavior. More broadly, Xinru is interested in public opinion and new methods of measuring it, foreign policy formation, alliance politics, East Asian security dynamics, and the historical relations of East Asia. 


Julien de Troullioud de Lanversin will be joining CISAC as a Stanton Postdoctoral Fellow. Julien is finishing his Ph.D. at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. He is interested in how to verify and reconstruct past fissile material production programs with scientific tools. To that end, he developed innovative methods that use isotopic analysis from nuclear reactors to gain information on their past operation (nuclear archeology) and designed an open source software that can compute the istopic composition of fissile materials from nuclear reactors. His current research looks at the various modalities of the production of plutonium and tritium in production reactors and how transparency on tritium could be used to improve estimates on plutonium stockpiles. Julien also studies security questions related to civil and military nuclear programs in Northeast Asia through the lens of fissile material, with a focus on China and North Korea. Julien visited the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technologies at Tsinghua University for one semester in 2018 to collaborate with Chinese experts on work related to nuclear engineering and arms control. Julien’s work on nuclear archaeology has been published in the Journal of Science and Global Security. He received his Diplôme d’Ingénieur (M.Sc. And B.Sc.Eng.) from Ecole Centrale de Marseille in 2014. The same year he also obtained a M.Sc. in Nuclear Science and Engineering from the University of Tsinghua where he was a recipient of the Chinese Government Scholarship. Julien speaks and uses Chinese in his research and is a native French speaker.