SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Forthcoming Events

The China Institute coordinates activities at SOAS, University of London that relate to the study of China.  The events bring together academic staff and students with diverse interests and backgrounds.

For further information contact Li-Sa Whittington at the Institute on


Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained on the website is as accurate as possible. We cannot guarantee, however, that subsequent changes have not been made. 

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  • Why the West's Economic Engagement with China has Failed
  • Stewart Paterson
  • Few people could tell you what happened on 11 December 2001, yet China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will define the geopolitics of the twenty-first century. What were Western leaders thinking at the time?

  • Personal Trust and Stranger Solidarity: Competing Moral Economies of Chinese Organic Farming
  • Dr Anders Sybrandt Hansen (Aarhus University)
  • The widespread phenomenon of unsafe food on the Chinese market has been argued to be both symptomatic of moral disregard for the well-being of strangers, and productive of social distrust. In response to the ongoing food safety crisis some agricultural producers have turned to organic farming, and this seminar discusses the moral reasoning of farmers based on ethnographic fieldwork at one such organic farm in northern China.

  • Nanjing
  • Written and performed by Jude Christian, directed by Elayce Ismail
  • Nanjing is a monologue about identity, flawed heroes, and the consequences of war. Written and performed by Jude Christian, Nanjing is a personal response to the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, frequently referred to as the Rape of Nanking.


  • The roles of local governments in China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Sichuan case study
  • Professor Dominik Mierzejewski (University of Lodz)
  • This seminar discusses the rationale and adoption of the Belt and Road Initiative at the local level in China, by analyzing the evolution of role and the roles of local governments in Chinese foreign policy since the opening up and reform of China after 1978, with special regard to post-2013 Chinese policy.

  • It Won't Be Long Now
  • Dr Bill Aitchison (Artistic Director Bill Aitchison Company / Nanjing University)
  • It Won’t Be Long Now is a solo theatre piece set in 1940s Hong Kong under Japanese occupation. It follows the experiences of Allied prisoners of war incarcerated in the Shamshuipo Prison Camp. It is based on real histories and is a show about survival in a time of hardship. It is a part of the Shamshuipo Heroes series of performances that give voice to diverse histories of this part of Kowloon.



  • Rethinking Chinese Politics
  • Professor Joseph Fewsmith (Boston University)
  • The standard theory of "institutionalization" has been inadequate to understand elite politics. Looking at the tension between a Leninist party structure and the use of balance to maintain stability, this talk explores the leadership dynamics since Deng Xiaoping.



  • Hidden Binomes in Chinese Canonical Texts: Both Transmitted and Excavated
  • Professor Chen Zhi (BNU-HKBU United International College)
  • One of the most important, but still under-investigated, features of the Old Chinese lexicon is its large number of alliterative binomes (i.e., compounds of two characters that regularly appear together with distinctive meaning). Lianmian ci 連綿 詞/聯緜詞 or “binome” (borrowed from the French word binôme) is a sound- correlated (alliterative or rhyming) disyllabic compound that carries meaning only when it is used as a single word.

  • Tetrasyllabic Poetry on Bronze Inscriptions and the Zhou Hymns
  • Professor Chen Zhi (BNU-HKBU United International College)
  • In this presentation Professor Chen Zhi examines formulaic expressions and set phrases that appear both in the received version of the Shijing (Book of Songs), China’s earliest anthology of poetry, and excavated Western Zhou bronze inscriptions (1045-771 BC).



  • The China Debate 2019: Will China’s Rise be Peaceful?
  • The rise of China will have a major impact on the world in the 21st century. Graham Allison may or may not be right in arguing that China and the USA are at serious risk of being caught in a ‘Thucydides Trap’, in which an incumbent hegemonic power feels compelled to respond forcefully to a rising new peer competitor, with potentially dire consequences. In the light of recent developments, the panellists will discuss whether China’s rise will prove peaceful.

  • Maoism: a Global History
  • Prof. Julia Lovell (Birkbeck)
  • After briefly defining “Maoism”, this talk will seek to re-center Mao’s ideas and experiences as major forces that have shaped the world, as well as China, since World War II. The talk will conclude by assessing China’s current partial Maoist revival and its significance for China’s self-positioning in the world.



  • The Meaning and Implications of Tiananmen 1989
  • Various panellists
  • This panel discussion will assess the meaning and implications of the momentous events of Beijing 1989. The panellists, Dr Jiang Shao, a protester in Tiananmen, Kate Adie, a world class journalist whose report on the spot captivated the world and Professor Rowena He, a leading scholar on the subject will reflect on the events, how they affected them and what meaning they draw from having lived through, witnessed or studied this vital historical moment.

  • Governance Reform, Social Inequality and the Changing Public Opinion in China
  • Dr Zhenqing Zheng (Tsinghua University, Beijing)
  • Since China’s reforms in the 1980’s, bureaucratic changes and market forces have reshapened the general public’s lives and opinions. This seminar examines to what degree, social differences in urban-rural divide, social stratification, distributive fairness perceptions, generational gap and so on have impacted people’s attitudes regarding governance reform and performance in China.

  • China’s High-Tech Innovation Drive: Domestic Results, Global Implications
  • Scott Kennedy (Senior Advisor and Director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies)
  • Scott Kennedy, a leading authority on Chinese economic policy will talk about the effect of China's high-tech leadership on its trading partners and global industries.

  • The Belt & Road Initiative: International Responses
  • This conference is designed to examine how this flagship foreign policy initiative of President Xi Jinping is affecting the key regions in the world along both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road, and how countries thus affected are responding.




  • How China engages the world
  • The focus of this one-day Masterclass is one of today’s most pressing global issues. As the process of decoupling between the USA and China proceeds, understanding how China engages with the rest of the world has become more important than ever. The Masterclass will bring together scholars and practitioners whose cumulative expertise offers unique insights into a wide range of issues bearing on the topic. 

  • The China Order: Behind the Rising PRC Power
  • Professor Fei-Ling Wang (Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • This talk outlines the China Order as a long-lasting political tradition and a deeply internalized worldview in the Chinese World.


  • China and the two Koreas: What next?
  • Various panellists
  • What is China’s strategy in the Korean Peninsula?  How do Seoul and Pyongyang see the role of China?  What should we expect of China’s role in helping to bring about peace and development on the Korean Peninsula.

  • Call for YCW London Mentee Applications
  • After the success of our second year in 2018-2019, the London chapter is pleased to launch the mentorship programme for its third year. We are calling for applications from early career young professionals in the YCW London network to participate in the Programme. 

  • Rethinking empires: What is the Mongol Great State, and why do we need it?
  • Timothy Brook (Professor of Chinese and World History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
  • Since the 17th century, commentators on China have adopted the language of "empire" to speak of the Chinese state. The original model was the Roman empire, and that analogy was not misplaced when Europeans first applied it, but it may not help us with formulating a global history that recognizes the multiplicity of historical paths to the present. This presentation explores the possibilities of using the Mongol concept of Great State.


  • Hong Kong on the Edge
  • Jeff Wasserstrom (Chancellor's Professor of History, UC Irvine)
  • This talk will focus on patterns of protest and the tightening of political controls in Hong Kong during the last few decades, paying particular attention to the 2014 Umbrella Movement and of this dramatic events of this year, including the most recent June 4th anniversary vigil.

  • The Fight for China’s Future: Civil Society Vs the Party
  • Dr Willy Lam (Adjunct Professor, Centre for China Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
  • The Fight for China’s Future throws light on the quintessence of 21st century Chinese politics through the prism of the struggle between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China’s vibrant intelligentsia and civil society. This book talk examines Xi Jinping’s 24-hour, multidimensional, AI-enabled police-state apparatus and explores the CCP’s policy towards civil society. 

  • China-Africa and an Economic Transformation - Book discussion
  • Dr Arkebe Oqubay (Editor of the book/SOAS Alum), Prof Carlos Oya (SOAS) and Prof Stephen Chan (SOAS)
  • Authored by leading scholars on Africa, China and China-Africa relations, the book brings together stimulating and thought-provoking perspectives and deeper analysis.


  • How to Be Modern: China's Search for "Good Food"
  • Dr Joy Zhang (University of Kent)
  • This seminar investigates the ongoing social negotiation of ‘good food’ in China. It demonstrates how a non-Western society responds to the twin processes of modernisation and globalisation and provides insights on the varieties of modernity in the making.

  • Area Studies and the Urgent Need for Global Intercultural Dialogue
  • Geir Helgesen (SOAS Centre of Korean Studies/Fudan Development Institute, Shanghai), Chunrong Liu (Fudan Development Institute, Shanghai and NIAS, Copenhagen University), Rachel Harrison (SOAS)
  • In this roundtable discussion we propose that, given the precarious and fragile state of the world, it is essential for Area Studies to play a more important role.

  • Hong Kong - What next?
  • Dr. Tim Pringle (Senior Lecturer in Labour, Social Movements and Development, SOAS; Editor, The China Quarterly) & Prof. Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)
  • Access to Justice: China – UK Dialogues on Criminal Legal Aid and Effective Defence
  • Various speakers
  • This seminar aims to bring together influential scholars on criminal legal aid from both China and England, sharing experiences from the domestic systems and deepening the understanding of the operation of effective defence. There will be comparative themes focusing on the reforms on the criminal legal aid systems and the future of the legal aid scheme in the digital age, which will have a profound impact on the legal assistance.