Maaike Okano-Heijmans is a senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute, where she leads the ‘Geopolitics of Technology and Digitalisation’ programme. She is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Leiden, where she has been teaching on ‘Non-Western Diplomacy’ in the MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD) since 2012.
Her main research interests are the geopolitics of technology and digitalisation in EU-Asia relations, with a special focus on China, Japan and the Indo-Pacific. Digital connectivity, economic security and open strategic autonomy in the digital domain, feature large in her publications and outreach.
A key question underlying much of her work is how the fourth industrial revolution reshapes international relations, and what this means for the European Union and its member states – in particular The Netherlands. Recent projects focus on digital autonomy, strategic tech cooperation with India, digital connectivity, digital for development, China’s Digital Silk Road and Europe’s Digital Decade. In addition, since joining Clingendael in 2006, Maaike has worked on issues related to consular affairs and diplomacy – also known as 'citizen security' or 'duty of care'.
Maaike has more than 15 years of experience in (policy-oriented) research and advice for Dutch, EU/European and Asian governments and institutions. Maaike leads Clingendael’s projects on Geopolitics, great powers and global governance for the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, under the multi-annual PROGRESS framework. She is a regularly invited speaker at track 1.5 dialogues, think tanks and universities in Europe and Asia.
From 2016 until the end of the project in July 2020, she was Clingendael’s scientific coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Research and Advice Network (#APRAN), advising the European External Action Service and the European Commission.
Furthermore, Maaike is a board member of the European Japan Advanced Research Network (EJARN) and a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP-EU), the track-two organisation promoting security dialogue in Asia. She is on the editorial board of the Hague Journal of Diplomacy (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers), the Clingendael Spectator (Clingendael's Magazine) and the International Journal of Diplomacy and Economy .
She has lived and studied in the United States (Fulbright Program student), Hong Kong (Nuffic & VSB scholarships), Japan (Monbusho Scholar) and Australia. Prior to joining Clingendael, Maaike worked at the Japanese Embassy in the Hague. From 2008 to 2013 Maaike was a non-resident visiting fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy of the Australian National University in Canberra. She was granted a Canon Foundation Research Fellowship in 2013.
In 2012 Maaike obtained her PhD in Political Science from the University of Antwerp, Belgium after the successful defense of her thesis on Economic Diplomacy and the Balance of National Interests, with a special focus on Japan. She holds two Master's degrees: one in Political Science from the University of Amsterdam (2001) and another in International Relations from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan (2003). Furthermore, she studied the Japanese language at Leiden University, the Netherlands.