Member Spotlight: Ekaterina Serbina

Ekaterina Serbina is a PhD student at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russian Federation, Moscow). She joined the AAS in February 2020.

What is your discipline and country (or countries) of interest?

My research field concerns Chinese “policy” banks—such as the Agricultural Development Bank of China, Export-Import Bank of China, and China Development Bank—and their strategy abroad.

Why did you join AAS, and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues?

Since I began my PhD studies in September 2019 I have been trying to develop connections with foreign Asian Studies institutes and associations. I think it is important for any researcher to be familiar with other experts and their projects, especially in related disciplines.

I would recommend AAS because it provides unique opportunities. One can acquire information about new books and access archived articles concerning Asian Studies in a variety of fields including economics, politics, philosophy, and history. My research is mainly about the Chinese banking system; however, I strongly believe that for conducting any research in Asian Studies knowledge of the literature, language, history, and economy of a country as a whole is required for precise and objective analyses. I am also highly appreciative of the conferences organized by AAS, which enable scientific [scholarly] exchanges. I am eager to attend the next one in Seattle in 2021.

How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Studies?

My mother was born near the border between China and Russia (Khabarovsk Krai). She speaks Chinese (Mandarin) and encouraged me to learn it. In Taiwan, I obtained a masters degree in Chinese language and literature, as well as an MBA degree. The MA enhanced my linguistic ability and knowledge of Chinese culture. The MBA provided a unique experience of the business process in Asia, helping me to develop my financial skills.

What do you enjoy most, or what were your most rewarding experiences involving your work in Asian Studies?

I enjoy my research every single day because the Asian market is developing rapidly and the banking world is increasingly focusing on it. I am interested in the way Chinese banks study international banking strategy to help them create their own.

Tell us about your current or past research.

I selected the topic of Chinese banks’ strategy abroad because China is the world’s second largest economy and has been conducting vigorous international trade with local banks since “Openness” (kaifang) and “Go Out” (zouchuqu) policies were announced in 1978 and 1999, respectively. Not only has there been constant growth in international trade, but also the Chinese banking system has been transforming. The PRC government selected several banks to focus on international projects (“policy” banks). Such banks provide strong financial support for the Belt and Road Initiative. My special focus is on Chinese bank activity in Russia. Bilateral trade grows year by year, and it reached USD 110 billion in 2019. My article about Chinese banks’ strategy in Russia has been accepted for publication in the International Finance Review.

What advice or recommendation do you have for students interested in a career in Asian Studies?

Be patient and listen. Other cultures have their own advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion all experts in Asian studies should visit Asia to study (short or long term).

Outside of Asian Studies, tell us some interesting facts about yourself.

I enjoy traveling abroad, and I am lucky to have friends in various countries (including the USA and UK). I feel at home when I visit them. I also like art, especially Chinese classical painting and European impressionism. My favorite sport is swimming.