Faces of Clingendael: Xiaoxue Martin
03 Aug 2023 - 14:02
Source: ©Clingendael

Who are our hard-working researchers and trainers and what drives them? You might have seen them in the media, explaining geopolitical topics or putting them on the agenda. We offer you a peek behind the scenes in our new series Faces of Clingendael. Today with Clingendael Researcher Xiaoxue Martin.


What is your role?

I am a researcher at the Clingendael China Centre. I research the EU-China relationship, as well as topics such as Taiwan, China's influence in European ports, and dependence  on China.

What motivates you to do this work?

The debate about China needs nuance, and at Clingendael, I have the opportunity to contribute to that through my research and the media and public speaking appearances.

What nuance is lacking in the China debate?

The debate is highly emotional and often leans towards extremes. The answer to questions like 'should we continue to cooperate with China?'  is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It is not in our own interest or realistic to completely decouple from China. There are areas where we need to cooperate. However, we should be well aware of risks, especially in strategic sectors . These need a tailormade approach to establish safe and effective collaborations.

What are your interests outside of work?

I love traveling. There are still many places in China I would like to visit, such as the Sichuan province. They have an amazing cuisine there. For example, they have Sichuan peppercorn. Due to its high spiciness, the dining experience is often referred to as "mouth numbing."

What advice do you have for young people aspiring to work in your field?

Make sure you can conduct thorough research, but also work on your skills to communicate effectively about what you do. As a student you can practice this by talking about your thesis to friends or family that are not familiar with the topic. Try to convey your research in a way that, for example,  teenagers can understand. After all, you would like your research to land with wide audiences. 

The previous guest in this series - Isabel Albers from the Clingendael Academy - has a question for you: According to you, what is an underemphasized point in the China debate?

It is not always clear that not everyone thinks like we do in Europe. China has a very different world view, that is supported in other parts of the world.  If the Europe wants to pull countries out of China's sphere of influence, then it also needs to understand the concerns of these countries and why China is an attractive partner for them to address those concerns.

The next guest in this series is Maaike Aans, Clingendael Academy Fellow. What would you like to ask her?

Since she is involved in intercultural communication training, I would love to hear her favourite  example of international politics or diplomacy where intercultural communication caused significant problems.


Could you be Xiaoxue's new colleague? We are looking for a Senior Research Fellow China.