I am a professor of Government at Cornell University and serve as Director of Cornell’s East Asia Program. I study authoritarianism focusing on China, cities, statistics, and climate change. I serve as an editor at The Monkey Cage and write the China Lab newsletter. You can find my CV here.
In my new book Seeking Truth and Hiding Facts: Information, Ideology, and Authoritarianism in China, I argue that a few numbers came to define Chinese politics, until they did not count what mattered and what they counted did not measure up.
CSIS hosted a virtual book launch that can be viewed here.
I’ve written a number popular pieces related to the book and its themes.
- Why Does China Remain Locked On Growth Targets?
- Is China Losing GDP Religion?
- Xi’s First Steps in Power Signaled His Political Turn
- Interview: Jeremy Wallace on The Chinese State’s “Limited, Quantified Vision”
- Why protesters are targeting Xi Jinping for China’s ‘zero covid’ failures
- Why China Aims Too High
I was also happy that Foreign Affairs chose my essay with Henry Farrell and Abe Newman, Spirals of Delusion, on how AI distorts decision-making and makes dictators more dangerous, as one of its Best of 2022.
In 2021, my research on COVID-19 was published in APSR (with Michael Neblo) and on China’s relationship with the international order in International Organization (with Jessica Chen Weiss).
I’ve written about the politics of statistics in the COVID pandemic at the Washington Post, LA Times, and Foreign Policy. I wrote about the anti-zero COVID protest movement and the policy’s abrupt end for the Monkey Cage. Following the Shanghai lockdown, I argued that China’s zero COVID policy has been a catastrophic success that mirrors the country’s GDP-centric economic governance. Previously, the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog published my thoughts on Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” slogan, his increasingly personal rule, China admitting that its statistics are unreliable, and the political implications of China’s 2015 stock market crisis.
I’m embarking on a new research project on the political economy of China’s decarbonization. This essay on Political Science, Authoritarianism, and Climate Change is a good place to start. Phenomenal World published my analysis of China’s Carbon Triangle, investigating the carbon implications of its growth model focused on land, finance, and real estate. Heatmap ran my short analysis of China’s 2023 growth numbers mean for the climate. Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy published a commentary that I wrote (with Edmund Downie) in 2021 on how provinces are adapting to China’s national decarbonization pledges. Finally, I have a new piece of research (joint with Victoria Liu) now out in Environmental Research Communications, “What’s Not Trending on Weibo: China’s Missing Climate Change Discourse,” that … does what it says on the tin. Many of my China Lab posts also explore this territory.
My first book, Cities and Stability: Urbanization, Redistribution, and Regime Survival in China, explores the interplay of China’s management of internal migration, urbanization, and redistributive policy as well as cross-national patterns of authoritarian regime survival and urban protests. I also led a collaborative project on China’s Cities, funded by Cornell’s Center for the Social Sciences.
I spent 2021-22 on sabbatical leave at Georgetown’s Mortara Center for International Studies. I used to host the China Lab podcast and blog occasionally at Science of Politics.