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Aspiring for Global Health Leadership amid a Shifting World Order — China’s Health Silk Road


As the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world economy, forcing nations to readjust their ways of life, this research project examines how global public health can be enhanced through foreign policy, health diplomacy, knowledge diplomacy and cultural exchange. The proposed project aims to study the deployment and reception of China’s global public health policy in the post-COVID-19 world order.

The research team is composed of area studies and international relations experts specialising in China, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. By comparing health diplomacy providers (China, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States), this project will advance knowledge on China’s health diplomacy and Health Silk Road on global public health.

The Health Silk Road is one major segment of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), a centrepiece of President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. Combined with another facet of the BRI, the Digital Silk Road, the Health Silk Road endeavours to serve the countries along the BRI by facilitating communication to prevent and control infectious diseases, creating a platform for health services and the health industry, supporting medical training and research, supplying healthcare facilities, medical care and treatment, and building Centres for Disease Control. Part and parcel of the BRI and the Health Silk Road is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which China has been promoting worldwide through various public and cultural diplomacy programmes, as well as development aid initiatives. This proposed project will study the reception and adoption of TCM in countries along the BRI.

Although some states have conducted their own health diplomacy bilaterally and/or multilaterally, China’s unique undertaking could potentially bring together the synchronization of other states’ dispersed efforts. This research will (a) investigate the implementation, challenges and opportunities of China’s Health Silk Road, Digital Silk Road and TCM; and (b) assess how they benefit the world, and, how they can potentially treat hundreds of millions of people, particularly those living in countries with deficient healthcare systems.

The anticipated deliverables will advance knowledge for academia and policymakers, as well as engage the general public in thinking about greater solidarity and win-win cooperation for the common good in the post-COVID-19 world.

Required skills

Having studied either international relations, or global health, or development studies, the candidate can read and speak Chinese at native or near native fluency, and is prepared to do fieldwork in China and BRI-countries.

Principal Investigator


Dr. Tran

Dr. Emilie Tran

Assistant Professor, Department of Government and International Studies




Prof. Zoubir

Prof. Yahia Zoubir (External)

Professor, International Relations and International Management, KEDGE Business School