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Ling Chen

Ling Chen

Assistant Professor


Ling Chen is Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS. She is also affiliated with the Agora Institute at JHU as a member of the Center for Economy and Society. Outside of SAIS, she was a Wilson China Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and was also affiliated with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University as a Non-resident Associate. 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 economic policies, 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 in American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, New Political Economy, Perspectives on Politics, Politics & Society, Review of International Political Economy, The China Journal, and World Development. 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 the 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 TimesThe Washington Post, Foreign AffairsForeign PolicyFortune, Financial Times, the National Committee on US-China Relations, and the USCC Report to Congress. 

Peer-reviewed Publications

Works in Progress

  • Ling Chen. Ambivalent Capitalism and the Authoritarian State in China (book project in progress)

    • Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award

  • Ling Chen, Xiuyu Li, and Kellee Tsai. Authoritarian Capitalism: Economic Pathways and Social Foundations. (under contract with Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Elements Series on the Politics of Development) 

  • Ling Chen, Xiuyu Li, and Kellee Tsai. "Pathways to Authoritarian Capitalism." (working paper)

  • Ling Chen and Qi Zhang. “The Concentration of Political and Economic Power.” (research in progress)

  • Ling Chen and Ning Leng. “Interviewing Bureaucrats and Businesses,” (draft in progress) 

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