The Brussels Academy for China and European Studies (BACES) is an initiative taken by VUB and three prominent Chinese universities, Renmin University of China, Fudan University and Sichuan University. The presidents of the four universities have signed the MOU setting up BACES on the occasion of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Brussels on 31 March 2014. 

The second Vice-Premier of China, LIU Yandong, and EU Commissioner Androulla VASSILIOU officially inaugurated BACES on 6 September 2014 in the reputed Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing. BACES is fully in line with the initiative that was taken by Liu and Vassiliou to launch and develop the “High Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD)” between China and the EU. As a practical carrier and implementation platform of the High Level People to People Dialogue (HPPD) mechanism, BACES will advance the research level and strengthen the influence of contemporary China studies in Europe. Meanwhile, the European youth will acquire more access to information and academic insight on China issues while participating in the intercultural studies and communications with Chinese scholars and students. It will also provide the Chinese scholars and students in European/EU studies with opportunities to achieve the same goals.

BACES is supported by a Chair sponsored by the Chinese multinational Huawei Technologies (Netherlands) B.V. – Belgian branch for 5 years. Support is granted for educational and research activities and the organisation of international conferences.

Aims of the chair

BACES’ primary aim is to look into the future, building up a feasible and sustainable platform with other partners for academic activities and other practical tasks. BACES will move forward the frontline of China’s academic activities in Europe, and will cultivate and reinforce young people’s interests and research levels on European/EU studies and contemporary China studies. This project will provide first-hand research material and information for Chinese and European researchers, as well as face-to-face communications for European researchers and their Chinese counterparts; it will ensure both sides share the research outcome of the joint programmes. BACES is to promote and deepen the cooperation of higher education organizations between both China and Europe on European/EU studies and contemporary China studies, to upgrade the present cooperation to a higher level, to engage in joint academic projects, to organize joint research teams, and to expand joint consulting activities for both governments and enterprises.



Holder of the chair: Sonja Snacken

Prof. dr Sonja Snacken is Vice Rector International Policy and Professor of Criminology, Penology and Sociology of Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), where she held a ‘Research Fellowship’ (2006-2016). She has master degrees in law and criminology and a PhD in criminology. Her research focuses on penality in Europe, including sentencing and implementation of custodial and non-custodial sanctions and measures. She has been involved in over 40 research projects, at a European and national level, with a special emphasis on the integration of an empirical social scientist approach with human rights concerns. Her interest has recently broadened to other forms of (extreme) institutional dependency.

She participates in several international scientific networks, English and French speaking. She was elected president of the European Society of Criminology (2004-2005) and is member of the Editorial Board of several international scientific journals. She has acted since 1994 as an expert to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and was a member (2001-2012) and President (2006-2012) of the Council for Penological Cooperation of the Council of Europe. She was actively involved in the drafting of Belgian penal legislation (Prison Act 2005; Act on the External Legal Position of Prisoners and Victims’ Rights 2006).

She was Research Fellow at the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice at the New York University School of Law (2010-2011) and is Collaborateur-membre of the Centre International de Criminologie Comparée of the Université de Montréal (since 2010). She was awarded the Belgian Francqui Chair at the Université Catholique de Louvain (2008-2009), the Ernest-John Solvay Prize for Scientific Excellence in the Human and Social Sciences by the National Science Foundation (FWO, 2010) and the European Criminology Award for life-time contribution to European criminology (European Society of Criminology, 2015).