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Ling Chen

Ling Chen

Assistant Professor of Political Economy


Ling Chen is Assistant Professor in political economy at Johns Hopkins SAIS. She is also affiliated with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University as an Associate in Research. She was a 2021-2022 Wilson China Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Before joining SAIS, she was a Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University and Rajawali Fellow at the Ash Center of Harvard Kennedy School.

Chen’s research interests lie in political economy and state-business relations, with a regional focus on China. She studies the nexus between states and business, such as economic, tax, and industrial policies. She is especially interested in the political, coalitional, and institutional origins of policy outcomes, as well as the relationship between capitalism and the authoritarian state. Her research combines in-depth field interviews with statistical analysis and machine learning. Chen's articles have been published or forthcoming in American Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, World Development, Politics & Society, 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 politics of government-business coalitions and policy implementation in China. Her second book project is on capitalists and authoritarian governance in China, which has won the Catalyst Award.

Chen’s research has been funded by institutions such as the Social Science Research Council (Andrew Mellon Foundation), Wilson Center, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, Institute for Humane Studies, and Stanford University. She was recognized as an NCID Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan. She is also the winner of 2022 American Political Science Association (APSA) Best Comparative Policy Paper Award.

In addition to academic outlets, Chen has also published in The Washington Post, Axios, and a Wilson Center report. She has given congressional testimony in front of the US-China Economic and Security Review Committee. Her comments have been quoted, among others, by the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Fortune, Financial Times, the National Committee on US-China Relations, and the USCC Report to Congress. She teaches courses on China's Political Economy, Comparative Politics, and Political Economy and Development Strategies in East Asia.

Peer-reviewed Publications

Works in Progress

  • Chen, Ling. Ambivalent Capitalism and the Authoritarian State: The Public Origins of Private Entrepreneurs in China (Book Project in Progress)
  • Chen, Ling. "How Institutions Bounce Back: Untangling Difficult Reforms in China's State-Owned Sector." (working paper)
  • Chen, Ling and Miles, Evers. “Weaponization during Power Transitions: An International Theory of Domestic State-Business Alignment.” 

Other Publications




  • China
  • East Asia


  • Political Economy
  • Comparative Politics
  • Policy Making and Implementation
  • Development
  • Globalization
  • State-Business Relations
  • Industry Policy

In the News

Strategic authoritarianism: The political cycles and selectivity of China’s tax-break policy.

Ling Chen wrote in American Journal of Political Science, 08/25

As China scrutinizes its entrepreneurs, a power couple cashes out.

Ling Chen quoted in The New York Times, 06/17

An assessment of the CCP’s economic ambitions, plans, and metrics of success.

Ling Chen testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 04/15

How will racial minorities shape future elections?

Ling Chen interviewed for WalletHub, 10/21

What lies ahead? The fifth plenum of the 19th Communist Party Congress.

Ling Chen interviewed for National Committee on United States - China Relations, 10/21

Getting China right: China in the world.

Ling Chen interviewed for Duke University’s Department of Political Science 9/3

Who is winning the trade war?

Ling Chen, Anne O. Krueger, and Matthias Matthijs surveyed in Foreign Affairs, 12/17

Exploring the links between business and the Chinese bureaucracy.

Ling Chen interviewed on SupChina podcast, 5/30