Ling Chen

Ling Chen

Assistant Professor of Political Economy
International Political Economy
China Studies

Office: 1717 Massachusetts Ave NW, BOB 735B Mailing: 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC, 20036.


  • Asia
  • China
  • East Asia
  • Globalization
  • Emerging Markets
  • International Political Economy
  • Political Economy & Development

Background and Education

Ling Chen is Assistant Professor in political economy at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Before joining SAIS in 2015, she was a Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University and Rajawali Fellow at the Ash Center of Harvard Kennedy School. Her research interests lie in political economy and government-business relations in China and East Asia, especially the political origins of economic policies. She received her PhD in political science from Johns Hopkins (in Baltimore). Her works have appeared in World Development, Politics & Society, The China Journal, Review of International Political Economy, and New Political Economy. Her first book, Manipulating Globalization: The Influence of Bureaucrats on Business in China, published by Stanford University Press, explores the political roots of government-business coalitions and policy implementation in China. She is currently working on articles related to the politics of tax policies, as well as a second book project, tentitively entitled Capitalist Authoritarianism in ChinaChen was recognized as the Diversity Scholar by University of Michigan. Her research has received support from institutions such as the Social Science Research Council (Andrew Mellon Foundation), Institute for Humane Studies, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University, among others.

Chen teaches courses on China's Political Economy, Comparative Politics, and Political Economy and Development Strategies in East Asia. For information, please visit her personal website.


Download Curriculum Vitae (PDF)


Works in Progress


"Asset Mobility, Government-Business Relations, and Taxation: Evidence from China." with Florian Hollenbach  (Working paper)


"Political Incentives of Tax Policies in China: Evidence from Firms and Cities" (Working paper) with Hao Zhang

"When Institutions Bounce Back: Implementing Difficult Reforms in China's State Sector."

Peer-Reviewed Publications 


Manipulating Globalization: The Influence of Bureaucrats on Business in China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018) (Link) (Chapter 1) (Contents and Chapter Abstracts)

  • The Washington Post, Axios, Choice, China Quarterly, H-Net Reviews

“Grounded Globalization: Foreign Capital and Local Bureaucrats in China’s Economic Transformation.”World Development 98 (2017): 381-399.  (full paper) (Link)

  • The Washington Post

“Varieties of Global Capital and the Paradox of Local Upgrading in China,” Politics & Society 42, no.2 (2014): 223-252. (full paper) (Link)

  • CNPolitics (Zhengjian)


“Playing the Market Reform Card: The Changing Patterns of Political Struggle in China’s Electric Power Sector,” The China Journal, no. 64 (2010) : 69-95. (full paper(Link



“Institutional Inertia, Adjustment, and Change: Japan as a Case of Coordinated Market Economy,” Review of International Political Economy 15, no. 3 (2008) : 460-479. (full paper)


“Preferences, Institutions and Politics: Re-Interrogating the Theoretical Lessons of Developmental Economies,” New Political Economy 13, no. 1 (2008) : 89-102. (full paper)

Other Publications 

"How this Trade War Could Backfire — in China’s Favor." The Washington Post, June 25 (2018) (Link)

“More Centralized Control Threatens China's Economic model." Axios, expert voices, January 23 (2018) (Link)
“Dongya yu lamei guojia gongyehua de lujing” [The Paths of Industrialization in East Asia and Latin America]. Caijing Kexue [The Journal of Finance & Economics], no.1 (2003): 255-260 (In Chinese).




Fall 2018 
This course exa...
This course examines the political and institutional foundations sustaining contemporary China’s economic growth and reforms, as well as the consequences of its transition. The course focuses on several paradoxes. How does China push for market-oriented reforms without democratizing the authoritarian political system? Is the state still in control in today’s economy? How does China reconcile the communist party ideology with its fast-growing private sector, and with elements of capitalism? How does the state balance the centralization and decentralization of economic policy making and implementation? What are the interest groups and strategies behind China’s selective embrace of globalization, and how did foreign investment and trade influence domestic politics and policies? What are the challenges for sustaining the “China model?” We will examine these important questions through a combination of conceptual frameworks, case studies, and policy analysis.
The course begins with a section introducing the politics of post-Mao economic reforms.  This section clarifies the logic and measures of the reform initiative, the intricate balance of central-local relations, and the economic policy making process and implementation struggles. The second section explores major debates about contemporary Chinese political economy. Topics covered in this section include the important (and often controversial) role of the local government, the reformed yet still powerful state-owned sector, the rise of private businesses and their political attitudes, and the associated rise of informal and shadow banking. The third section examines the process and consequences of China’s opening to foreign investment and trade, focusing on the interest groups and strategies behind its internationalization and the ways in which globalization has influenced domestic politics and governance. The fourth section examines the challenges of sustaining the “China model,” including China’s position on the global value chain and the development of wind and solar sectors. The section ends with a broader view by placing China’s political economy in a comparative perspective with other Asian economies. 
Spring 2016 
In the 20th and...

In the 20th and 21st centuries, most developing countries tried various ways to promote economic growth, but few managed to catch up with developed countries. The East Asian countries were exceptions, and their success and development strategies were studied, analyzed and debated in academic and policy circles. This course examines and compares development strategies in East Asia within domestic and global contexts through four sections. The first section investigates the individual cases of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the context of the rise of developmental states. This section focuses on government-business relations, institutions, and policies that influence the choices and outcomes of their development strategies. The second section engages students in a cross-regional perspective by comparing East Asian countries within and beyond their own region, with special attention to why certain development strategies work in some political and economic contexts but not others. The third section examines the case of China against the East Asian development model, discussing the domestic and international contexts that led to China’s distinctive trajectory. The fourth section places the East Asian development model within the context of globalization. It draws attention to the challenges that globalization brought to state-led development strategies, especially after the Asian financial crisis. It also discusses the distinctive role of these countries in global production networks as well as regional integration through mutual trade and investment.  The course aims to facilitate understanding of the development policies in East Asia both in terms of specific contexts and in a cross-regional perspective.

Spring 2017 
This is a surve...
This is a survey course in comparative politics that provides an overview of major theoretical approaches and issue areas in the field of comparative politics. It exposes students to a wide range of themes through reading of foundational work each week. The course starts by introducing competing theoretical approaches adopted by scholars of the field, including the state-centric, comparative historical, rational choice, and institutional perspectives. Using these approaches, the course then proceeds to examine issue areas such as political economy of developed and developing countries, democracy and authoritarianism, voting and parties, nationalism and ethnic politics, and the international context of domestic politics.