SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Lili Liu

BA International Politics (BLCU, Beijing) MSc Comparative Politics (LSE), PhD (SOAS)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research


Lili Liu
Department of Politics and International Studies

Teaching Fellow

Dr Lili Liu
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Thursdays 11:00-12:00 am


Lili holds a PhD degree in Politics from the Department of Politics and International Studies from SOAS, University of London. The majority of her research focuses on explaining the exercise of power in agenda setting and policy process under complex state and society interactions, with further interests in Chinese politics, environmental politics and social legal studies.

Her current research examines conditions and the process by which policy changes in authoritarian China under the logic of “expanding the sphere of conflict”. Through case studies in Yunnan, Shenzhen and Xiamen, she takes an in-depth look at why some environmental conflicts expand to attract a lot of attention and participation, while others generate little interest or action. This research draws on the “forensics of policy change”—the intermediate stages of policymaking as the amount of attention, mobilization and conflict surrounding a policy problem affect whether it gets on agendas and how it is resolved. Three main points are identified to explain the “fertile ground” of policy change in China: actors, institutions and issues. She is currently working on her first book manuscript to show how social actors exploit these institutions and overcome constraints in a critical part of policy process in China.


  • "Accommodating the Greening Participation: China's Local Environmental Governance", 111th American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA. September, 2015.
  • "State and Youth Social Advocacy in Contemporary China", European Associations of Chinese Studies (EACS) 20th Conference, Coimbra, Portugal. July 2014


She is the member of American Political Science Association (APSA), the member of European Associations of Chinese Studies (EACS)


  • State and Society in the Chinese Political Process
  • China and International Politics
  • International Relations of East Asia


Environmental politics; China Politics; Political Participation; Democracy and Democratization; Taiwan politics

PhD Research

Thesis Title: Accommodating the Greening Participation: China's Local Environmental Governance

This research examines the fundamental issue of how authoritarian regime accommodates itself with the citizen’s participation in policy making process by studying the green activities and authority's response in urban China. In authoritarian and transitional systems, the authority generally restricts citizen engagement to public sphere, although some have gradually loosed control over the emergence of civil society. But as we look at the actual data in China's environmental politics, there is a spectrum of ways environmental activisms organize, attitudes of local governments' response, and interactions between these two actors. The wide variation among the decentralized local governments challenges the authoritarian regime's primary targets of development and stability. What account for the variations? She conducted the fieldwork in three cities: Shenzhen, Kunming and Xiamen during 2014-2015. She found that embedded strength of the environmental activists and the degree of autonomy and adaptation of local state may explain the differences.