International Print/Television Media



I am Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, with joint appointment at the Asian Institute and the Munk School of Global Affairs, where I currently serve as Director of Munk China Initiatives.

I was An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies in 2008-09.

I am an expert in the politics and political economy of China. I also have expertise in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Malaysia, where I grew up. My research interests are authoritarian politics, contentious politics and the political economy of development.

My book, Prosper or Perish: Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China was published by Cornell University Press in 2012. It is the first book in the field to highlight the perils of mounting local government debt and non-sustainability of the “China model”. Written in the late 2000s, the book underscores many political-economic issues currently facing China, such as rising debt levels, and over-reliance on banking resources to finance local infrastructure spending.

My journal publications have appeared or are forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, International Political Science Review, China Quarterly, China Journal, among others.

My recent writings are on the subject of state control and citizen activism in China, specifically the government’s effort to maintain social stability. I am writing a series of articles on outsourcing of state repression by the Chinese government to market agents. For instance, see forthcoming articles in Perspectives on Politics and China Journal.

I am also undertaking a large project on protest and land politics in China, as part of the government’s effort to promote urbanization, which is one of the largest mankind has ever witnessed. I am also working on a comparative project on land politics in China and India.

My writing on urbanization in China has been featured in the New York Times and the Economist. My research on the concept of “thugs-for-hire” received attention from the New Yorker in 2014. My opinion pieces have appeared in a range of media outlets, including Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, New Mandala and East Asia Forum. I have been invited to give testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on China’s Banking System and Access to Credit”.

I received my PhD from the Australian National University, which has a long-standing history of training sinologists, and edits The China Journal, one of the leading journals in the field. I have an MA in Development Economics from Sussex University in the UK.

My research is funded by Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Connaught, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, Association of Asian Studies, and International Centre for Tax and Development.

I am a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese. I am conversant in Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, and Chinese dialects, namely Cantonese, Fujianese, and Foochow.


International Television

BBC Radio 5, “Hong Kong protests against extradition bill”, June 9, 2019.

TRT World, HUAWEI – a question of trust. US v China in 5G race“, February 8, 2019.

TRT World Newsmaker, “Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou“, January 23, 2019.

CNN, “Canadian’s death sentence leaves Beijing and Ottawa trapped in a crisis“, January 17, 2019.

BBC Radio 5 Live, January 16, 2019.

ABC Radio The World Today, “Canada should work on moral arguments, not retaliation against China: exert“, January 15, 2019.

ABC News, “China hits back after Justin Trudeau condemns Canadian’s death sentence“, January 15, 2019.

Australian Broadcasting Corp, “The World“, January 9, 2019.

BBC World Service, “Newsday“, December 13, 2018.

BBC Radio 5 Live, anchor Dotun Adebayo, December 9, 2018.

BBC Hardtalk (with Zeinab Badawi), “Interview with Mahathir Mohammad”, October 2, 2018. Quoted at 11.50th minutes.

Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), “Plight of Beijing Migrant Workers / Volunteering“, December 6, 2017.

Monocle Radio, “Canada Comes to China“, September 5, 2016.

BBC World Service, “Urbanization in China“, September 22, 2014.


Canadian Television

CBC The Current, “How Canada should navigate the escalating U.S.-China trade war“, May 13, 2019.

CTV News, “on trade war“, May 10, 2019.

CPAC, “on trade war“, May 10, 2019.

CTV News, “on Huawei“, May 9, 2019.

CBC News, “on the trade war“, May 9, 2019.

CTV News, “Canadian’s detained in China granted consular visit“, February 2, 2019.

CTV Your Morning with Ben Mulroney, “What China and its media is saying about Canada“, January 31, 2019.

CBC Power and Politics, “It’s ‘complicated’ with China, and Green Party’s Elizabeth May“, January 29, 2019.

CBC Metro Morning with Matt Galloway, “Trudeau fires John McCallum and names new ambassador — what’s next for diplomatic tensions between China and Canada?“, January 28, 2019.

CTV News, January 27, 2019.

CBC News Network, January 26, 2019.

CBC Radio The Host with Chris Hall, “How are McCallum’s comments playing in China?“, January 26, 2019.

CTV News, “China-Canada Relation“, January 25, 2019.

Zoomer Radio Fight Back with Libby, “Latest China/Canada Developments“, January 24, 2019.

CBC Network, “Carole MacNeil Show“, January 23, 2019.

CTV News Channel, “Canada – China Relations“, January 22, 2019.

CTV News Channel, “Detained Canadians“, January 17, 2019.

Global National News, “Global National with Dawna Friesen“, January 14, 2019.

CTV News, “Canadian in China drug smuggling case sentenced to death“, “Death sentence for Canadian in China ‘of extreme concern’: PM“, January 14, 2019.

CBC Radio Metro Morning with Matt Galloway, “How Canada is dealing with China over two detained Canadians“, January 8, 2019.

CBC News Network with Andrew Nichols, “Canada walks diplomatic tightrope“, January 7, 2019.

CTV News, “Detainees in China“, January 7, 2019.

Ottawa Today 1310 News Radio with Mark Sutcliffe, January 7, 2019.

CBC News, “The Panel with Carole MacNeil“, January 4, 2019.

CBC News with Andrew Nichols, “Developing“, January 4, 2019.

CBC Radio, “The World This Weekend“, December 29, 2018.

CBC National News, December 28, 2018.

CTV News, “Canadian Detainees“, December 28, 2018.

CBC National News, “The National News“, December 24, 2018.

CTV, “National News“, December 24, 2018.

Global News, “National News“, December 24, 2018.

CTV National News, “Canada calls for release of Canadians detained in China“, December 22, 2018.

CBC News Network, “Canada-China Tension“, December 22, 2018.

CBC Radio, December 22, 2018.

CTV News Calgary, “How tension between Canada and China will impact Canadians“, December 22, 2018.

CTV National News, “Canadians detained in China“, December 21, 2018.

CTV News, December 21, 2018.

CBC News Network, December 20, 2018.

CBC Metro Morning, “Third Canadian detained in China“, December 20, 2018.

CBC The Current with Anna Marie Tremonti, “Conflict inevitable with Canada stuck in middle of U.S.-China row: expert“, December 17, 2018.

CBC National News, December 17, 2018.

CTV National News, “Detained Canadians ‘bargaining chips’ for China“, December 15, 2018.

CBC News Network John  Northcott, “Expert speaks on Canada-China relations following latest Huawei news“, December 9, 2018.

Global News Network, December 7, 2018.

TVO with Steve Paikin, “China in Africa“, October 30, 2018.

CBC News Network, “Interpol Chief Gone Missing”,  October 6, 2018.

CBC News Network (with Carole McNeill), “US-China Trade War“, September 18, 2018.

CBC On the Money, “US-China Trade War“, April 2, 2018.

CBC News: Business, “Why a U.S-China trade war could be a ‘net negative’ for Canada“, March 26, 2018.

CBC Radio News, “China’s Role in a Trade War“, March 22, 2018.

CBC News: The National, “China’s Role in a Trade War“, March 22, 2018.

OMNI Television, “探讨中国经济实力与香港回归研讨会“, January 12, 2018.

Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC TV), PM Trudeau’s Trip to China.“, December 6, 2017.

CTV National News, “China’s One-Belt-One-Road Ambitions“, May 14, 2017.

OMNI TV, “Canada-China Free Trade Deal“, March 11, 2017.

Business News Network (BNN), “Canada-China Trade Deal“, September 22, 2016.

CBC Power & Politics with Evans Soloman, “Trudeau and China”, September 1, 2016.

CBC Power & Politics with Evans Soloman, “Protests in Hong Kong, September 30, 2014.

Global TV’s Morning Show, “China Political Transition”, December 6, 2012.

Advisor Analyst, “China’s political succession and economic outlook“, December 4, 2012.


Canadian Print Media

CBC Online-A closer look at the arsenal China paraded to stir pride at home — and unnerve rivals abroad _ CBC News October 7th, 2019

CNBC-Canada will take harder stance on China no matter who wins the election September 27, 2019

Globe and Mail-‘We’re afraid…we might get arrested’_ Canadian executives deal with the shock of a rupture with China – The Globe and Mail September 27th, 2019

CBC– Canada-China translation project ‘flushed down the toilet’ due to tensions, says professor _ CBC News September 9th, 2019

CBC News, July 23rd, 2019

CTV National News,

CBC National News, Panel discussion on Hong Kong protests, with Rosie Barton, July 9th, 2019

Global News, Hong Kong is a SAR of China — What that means and how it affects protests July 9th, 2019

Global News, July 9th, 2019

Global News (TV), “Canada has ‘very few options’ to secure release of Canadians being held in China: experts“, May 18, 2019.

CBC News, “Playground lessons for dealing with trade bullies: Don Pittis“, May 16, 2019.

Global News (TV), “on Detention of Canadians in China“, April 30, 2019.

The Varsity–U of T receives more money from international students than from Ontario government – The Varsity  February 26, 2019

CBC News, “‘China is your daddy’: Backlash against Tibetan student’s election prompts questions about foreign influence“, February 14, 2019.

CBC News, “Trudeau, Freeland held 19 high-level international talks with allies on China dispute“, January 21, 2019.

The Globe and Mail, “Ottawa is on the wrong side of Chinese power“, January 16, 2019.

The Globe and Mail, “U.S. launches new criminal probe of HUAWEI over alleged trade secret“, January 16, 2019.

Global News, “Justin Trudeau calls death sentence for Canadian in China arbitrary“, January 14, 2019.

National Post, “Canadian facing possible death penalty over drug smuggling in China could be pawn in Huawei dispute: experts“, December 27, 2018.

The Star Vancouver, “Rebuke of China from Canada’s allies clearest and best diplomatic path forward, say experts“, December 23, 2018.

CBC News, “Huawei exec’s arrest halting Chinese firms’ Canadian expansion plans, says auto sector spokesman“, December 17, 2018.

Ottawa Citizen, National Post, “Canada stokes concerns with decision to accept Alipay credit reports on visa applications“, December 12, 2018.

Prince George Citizen, “China retaliation against Canadian companies unlikely for now: experts“, December 7, 2018.

The Globe and Mail, “Canada will pay a price no matter what for its part in the worsening U.S.-China conflict“, December 6, 2018.

The Globe and Mail, “On Trudeau’s rocky China trip, Communist newspaper lashes out at Canadian media“, December 6, 2017.

The Globe and Mail, “China’s Xi Sells His Vision of New Socialism to the World“, October 18, 2017.

Toronto Star, “Why Hollywood’s Box Office is Banking on Beijing“, May 7, 2016, by Tony Wong.

Macleans, “Canadian Students Need to Go to China, But They Need Some Help“, November 15, 2016, by Josh Dehaas.

Canadian Global Affairs Institute, “Extradition Treaty with China a Polarizing Issue, New Poll Indicates“, October 13, 2016, by Tim Naumetz.

University of Toronto News, “Youth Engagement is the Key to Understanding China“, September 22, 2016.

The Globe and Mail, “As China Moves Away from Communist Regime, Cracks Appear,” March 19, 2015, by Nathan Vanderklippe.

Sun News, “Tory MPs of Chinese Descent Stay on Message About Hong Kong Protests“, October 1, 2014, by Giuseppe Valiante.

Toronto Star, January 29, 2013, “Beijing Air Pollution Hits ‘Hazardous’ Level“, by Hamida Ghafour.

National Post, January 18, 2013, “After Critical Editorial Censored by Chinese government, newspaper embarks on regime-testing landmark strike“, by Scott Barber.

University of Toronto News, January 2013, “Indebted Dragon, Lynette Ong explains China’s Construction Economy”.

Toronto Star, November 15, 2012, “China’s New Leader Xi Jinping Calls for ‘Better Life’ for the Country“, by Bill Schiller.



International Press

Young China Watchers, Voices on China, July 13, 2016.

The Atlantic’s CityLab, “Beijing’s Migrant Workers are Still Living in Storage Basements and Bomb Shelters“, November 6, 2015, by Tavni Misra.

Wall Street Journal, “Tianjin Blast Victims Protest for Better Compensation“, September 17, 2015, by Chun Han Wong.

Christian Science Monitor Global Outlook, October 28, 2014. “Slow Chinese Economy Pushes Migrants Back to the Farm“.

New Yorker, “The Thugs of Mainland China“, October 8, 2014.

Aljazeera America, “China’s President Could Face US-style Gridlock After Hong Kong’s Occupy,” October 1, 2014, by Massoud Hayoun.

The Diplomat, “China’s Climate Change Paradox,” September 30, 2014, by Stephen Junor.

The Guardian, “China Reforms Hukou System to Improve Migrant Workers’ Rights“, July 31, 2014, by Tania Branigan.

The Economist, Special Report: China, “Local Government: Emerging from the Shadows“, April 19, 2014.

Straits Times Singapore, January 27, 2014.”Worry Over China’s Shadow Banking Woes,” by Grace Ng.

Dart-Throwing Chimp, November 10, 2013, “China’s Houses of Cards?” by Jay Ulfeder.

New York Times, November 9, 2013, “New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope“, by Ian Johnson.

Chicago Policy Review, July 23, 2013, “China Progress Without Partnership,” by Jeff Gerlach.

South China Morning Post, July 23, 2013, “A China Crash in the Making?“, by G. Bin Zhao and Andrew Collier.

Bloomberg Businessweek, February 28, 2013, “Will Xi Jinping be the Reformer China Needs?” by Dexter Roberts.

South China Morning Post, December 5, 2012, “China’s Spending Could Cause Crisis, IMF Experts Warn“, by Kevin Rafferty.

South China Morning Post, November 6, 2012, “Ideal ‘Place’ to Stay“, by David Powell.

Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2012, “Still a Model? Revisiting the Rebel Village of Wukan“, by Josh Chin.

Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2008, “Protests Flare Over Quake Aid in China“, by Don Lee.


My paper, “Engaging a Huangniu: Commodification of State-Society Bargaining in China” , which analyzes how citizens and the state work with market brokers to bargain and defuse protests in housing demolition, will be forthcoming in the Journal of Contemporary China. Writing and theorizing this paper has been a lot of fun! Those to all those who have helped and provided me feedback along the way. Much appreciated!

My co-authored paper with Donglin Han, “What Drives People to Protest in an Authoritarian Country” is forthcoming in Political Studies. Drawing on a nationally representative survey, we find education and income to have negative correlation with protest participation. But, in URBAN China, the negative effect of income declines successively at higher level, holding edu constant. Full-text available here: