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Our research

Our academic staff are dedicated to enhancing an understanding of issues on contemporary China through multidisciplinary research. Our research areas focus broadly on:

  • Chinese international relations, UK-China and EU-China relations
  • China's political economy including the relationship between Chinese businesses and the State
  • Chinese international investments in Europe and international financial policy initiatives
  • Internal migration comparing China and India
  • Special Economic Zones and the movement of policies and models into and out of China
  • Environmental governance in China
  • Chinese real estate and land politics
  • Chinese elite politics, the history and function of the Communist Party in China, and the role of ideology in Chinese politics

We work in partnership with universities in China including Wuhan University, Renmin University, and National Taiwan Chengchi University. We also work with affiliations and associations from across the King’s community to facilitate their research interests within Greater China.

Selected projects

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been the signature foreign policy idea during Xi Jinping's leadership. It has allowed the outside world to better understand what China considers to be its own vision of its role in the wider world.

Our research, funded in-part through the British Academy Small Grants scheme, seeks to better understand the ways in which the BRI has impacted key geographies in Southeast Europe. We seek to gain evidence of the economic and geopolitical implications of this major idea through empirical evidence, and an analytical understanding and interpretation of it.

Chinese overseas direct investment is one of the most significant new global economic developments in the last two decades. Our research examines why and how firms, governments and stakeholders in Europe and beyond have engaged with expanding Chinese international investments and China’s associated international financial policy initiatives. We also look at how outward foreign direct investment from China and other countries promotes the development of the home country from which the investment originates.

Our research explores the politics and institutions of internal migration in China in comparative perspective, most notably with India – an excellent comparator for China because of its similarities in size and development trajectory combined with its differences in political structures and system.

We examine the relationship between migration and documents, including not only China’s household registration (hukou) system and its forebears, but other contemporary documents with an impact on internal migration and migrants’ access to resources. Our research also looks at the causes and impacts of exclusion from urban resources, with a particular focus on education, social welfare, children and family dynamics.

We investigate the movement of policies and "models" into and out of China, looking at the ways that distinctively Chinese patterns of development may be translated into new contexts across the developing world, going beyond the overt policy transfers of the Belt and Road Initiative to more diffuse forms of policy mobility, especially in India.

Our research focuses on the political, social and developmental impacts of introducing Chinese-style Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in India, a process of policy "translation" that includes multiple actors at multiple levels, and produces sometimes unintended consequences, including for migration and urbanisation. We are also interested in the longer genealogies of contemporary Chinese "models" and their international roots in both socialism and empire.

Our research examines the story of Britain’s relations with China from the 17th century to present day, looking at the key documents and studies of this history, dating back to material from the 1550s, to the current archives of the British government, and documents from the era of colonial involvement in Qing China from the 19th century.

While a huge amount has been written about this history - much of it about the period from 1840 onwards, this is the first time since the 1920s that there has been an attempt to put down in one narrative the story of Britains relations with China, and an analysis of why this is so important to global history and the creation of the modern world.

This will be published as 'The Great Reversal: China, Britain, and 400 Years Struggle for Power', by Yale University Press in 2024.


Selected publications


More publications

An overview of our research

An overview of our research can be found in 'China’s 19th Party Congress: Start of a New Era’, published by World Scientific, Singapore, in 2018. This includes chapters by our core staff on corruption in China, environmental issues, geopolitics, the Belt and Road Initiative, and land and property rights.

Chinas 19th party congress book cover

Why does understanding China matter?

In May 2019, Professor Kerry Brown talked at TEDx in Thessaloniki on why China matters in the modern era. This includes China's economic influences, as well as its contribution to the tourism industry. China is also a human story – the story of the rise of a nation after the rough modern history and the aspirations of Chinese people.

Research across the Global Institutes

Our cross-cutting thematic research groups, which bring together members from across the five institutes, bring a diverse approach to some of the most pressing issues facing the world today.


Discover the Lau China Institute

News and events from the King's Global Institutes