Matthias Stepan, M.A.

Affiliate Researcher
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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Matthias Stepan is a researcher and project lead at the Institute of East Asian Politics at Ruhr-University Bochum. He serves on the Executive Board of the Horizon Europe project “China Horizons – Dealing with a resurgent China – DWARC” as lead knowledge management.

Matthias is an expert on policymaking and social security in China, in his current research, he focuses on EU-China cooperation in the field of science, technology and (higher) education.

Matthias Stepan has a working record in different sectors. Trained as a comparative public policy scholar at prestigious universities in Germany, the Netherlands, and France, China has been the focus of his work for more than 15 years. He visited China in different capacities: as a researcher, NGO representative, consultant, and trainee in a major German company.

From September 2019 to January 2023, he served as Chief Representative of the Stiftung Mercator to China. Stiftung Mercator is one of the biggest private foundations in Germany, and among those, the only one with a representative office in China. He oversaw multi-annual projects fostering exchange among German / European and Chinese actors, e.g., in the philanthropic sector – The philanthropic leadership platform PLP – China Europe operated by Philea.

From 2014 to 2019, he was a member of the management board at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and the co-director of the research area Politics, Society and Media. Through his work, he contributed to the establishment of MERICS as the key Think Tank on contemporary China in Europe. He published major reports, among those the first mapping of China expertise in Germany. A project that received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education.

Prior to joining MERICS, he worked for four years at the Free University of Amsterdam. He was a visiting scholar at the Renmin University of China and the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy. During 2009-2011, he contributed as a junior expert to the “EU-China Social Security Reform Cooperation Project.”

A Mandarin speaker, Stepan spent more than four years living in China. He has traveled widely in the country.