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Anna Tan

Anna Tan

  • PhD students

PhD Student

Research subject areas

  • Policy
  • International development
  • International relations

Contact details


Anna is a Doctoral Student, Project Coordinator and PhD Representative at the Lau China Institute at King's College London. Her PhD research focuses on UK-China relations in the Xi Jinping Era, which looks at how in state discourse, British national identity plays a role in securitising China since 2013. She has recently been involved in a project funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and European Union (EU), which investigates China and India's illicit trade activities across Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The project is based at the School of Politics and Economics, led by Dr. Alexander Kupatadze. Anna is also a member of the Global Institutes’ Indo-Pacific Research Group directed by Professor Christophe Jaffrelot.

Prior to joining the Lau for her PhD, Anna graduated from King's in 2020 with her MSc in Global Affairs (Overall Distinction) where she specialised in China, South Asia and Middle Eastern regional studies. Her Master's thesis (later published on Asian Affairs) was based at the Department of War Studies and supervised by Professor Mats Berdal. The project assessed the strengths and limitations of Western human rights diplomacy to Myanmar from 2007 to 2020, in the context of increasing U.S.-China power competition in the region.

During her Master's degree, Anna also worked for The Policy Institute, during which she was mentored by Rt. Hon. Mike Rann, Australia's former High Commissioner to the UK. Prior to King’s, Anna worked for the American Red Cross and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on multi-donor humanitarian aid projects and on matters surrounding youth policy, human rights and peacebuilding from 2016 to 2018. During this time, she was particularly involved with the American Red Cross' aid strategy preparation for the Rohingya Crisis across Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Anna's research has enabled her to engage with senior policymakers and stakeholders from across international organisations, think-tanks and governments, including the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on issues regarding foreign policy and development aid. She is bilingual in English and Burmese, speaks conversational Mandarin and basic French.


Thesis title: ‘China, Identity, and ‘Performance’ in British Foreign Policy (2013-22)'

Anna's PhD project focuses on how British state actors perceive China in the Xi Jinping Era, and how these perceptions influence the UK's foreign and security policymaking. It aims to investigate how British national identity plays a role in how China has been securitised throughout official and unofficial state discourse over the years since 2013. The project uses ontological security theory as the primary conceptual framework, using relationality as a methodological principle as a means to not privilege discourse over materiality (Aradau et al., 2014). The project looks at state discourse through the lens of 'performance', inspired by the work of Professor Ruth Wodak. Her research aims to evaluate how certain social, political and cultural practices unique to different UK government institutions affect the making of British foreign and security policy towards China.


Peer-reviewed series:

Media Articles:

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles:

  • ‘A Critical Assessment of Human Rights Diplomacy by Western States in Myanmar (Burma) from 2007 to 2020.’Tan, A., 18 Aug 2021, In: Asian Affairs (Journal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs), 52(3). DOI:

Policy Briefs:



PhD Supervision

Principal Supervisor: Professor Astrid Nordin

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Konstantinos Tsimonis 

Further Details

See Anna's research profile