Research

The Ash Center's China Programs produce high quality research examining China's growing role in the world.  China Programs' work is disseminated through academic journals and the popular press, academic conferences and workshops, and executive education programs.

Surveys 

Since 2002, Anthony Saich, director of the Ash Center, has conducted detailed surveys of Chinese satisfaction with different levels of government.  As he details in his surveys, his research reveals stark differences in government approval ratings based on government level as well as respondents’ region and income level. 

Philanthropy 

The rise of private wealth is one of the most important developments in modern China, with implications for the country’s social, economic, and political arenas. How individuals choose to deploy such resources will shape the relationships between the individual and the state, between the state and business, and between the state and the social sector. In partnership with one of China’s leading research institutes focused on philanthropy, Beijing Normal University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute (CPRI), the Ash Center has launched a Global Leaders in Philanthropy Program. The Program will pursue a number of innovative research projects -- including China's Most Generous, a systematic and rigorous database of philanthropists, giving levels, recipient organizations, and a host of other research variables related to philanthropists and recipients.  The Center will also convene a philanthropist workshop and an executive education program for foundation staff to disseminate the findings of such research.

Recent Publications

Malcolm McPherson, March 2020 

This paper examines how China can improve transboundary resource management within the Greater Mekong Basin (GMB) through its participation in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC). Such improvement would ensure the efficient management and equitable development of the basin’s natural resources and ecosystems.

Finding Allies and Making Revolution

Tony Saich, Brill, February 2020 

What does a Dutchman have to do with the rise of the Chinese Communist Party? Finding Allies and Making Revolution by Tony Saich reveals how Henk Sneevliet (alias Maring), arriving as Lenin’s choice for China work, provided the communists with two of their most enduring legacies: the idea of a Leninist party and the tactic of the united front. Sneevliet strived to instill discipline and structure for the left-leaning intellectuals searching for a solution to China’s humiliation. He was not an easy man and clashed with the Chinese comrades and his masters in Moscow. This new analysis is based on Sneevliet’s diaries and reports, together with contemporary materials from key Chinese figures, and important documents held in the Comintern’s China archive.

Watch a video introduction to the book 

William H. Overholt, December 2019

This is an extensively edited, updated and expanded text of a lecture given for the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School on October 31, 2019. From the origination of “one country, two systems” in 1979 to today, this paper analyzes the history of the unique relationship between Hong Kong, Beijing, and the world.

Playing by the Informal Rules
Li, Yao. 2018. Playing by the Informal Rules. Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

Yao Li, Cambridge University Press, November 2018  

Growing protests in non-democratic countries are often seen as signals of regime decline. China, however, has remained stable amid surging protests. Playing by the Informal Rules highlights the importance of informal norms in structuring state-protester interactions, mitigating conflict, and explaining regime resilience. Drawing on a nationwide dataset of protest and multi-sited ethnographic research, this book presents a bird's-eye view of Chinese contentious politics and illustrates the uneven application of informal norms across regions, social groups, and time. Through examinations of protests and their distinct implications for regime stability, Li offers a novel theoretical framework suitable for monitoring the trajectory of political contention in China and beyond. Overall, this study sheds new light on political mobilization and authoritarian resilience and provides fresh perspectives on power, rules, legitimacy, and resistance in modern societies.

 

Tony Saich, August 2017

This analysis argues that the period of easy reforms in China has ended, and the time of difficult reforms that touch core political interests has begun. The resulting challenges facing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping when he is confirmed for another five-year-term span political, economic, and international spheres. This leadership must both maintain a domestic focus to strengthen economic growth and avoid the “middle-income trap,” while also engaging in a host of regional and global actions to cement China’s position on the world stage.

Previous Research Funds and Projects

Hui Fund for Generating Powerful Ideas

By funding a combination of degree students, academic research, results-driven conferences, and targeted senior practitioners, the Hui Fund built a powerful body of strategic thinkers working on issues of direct relevance to the U.S. and Chinese policy-making communities. The Fund prioritized collaborative research initiatives that expressly collaborate with institutions and individuals from China in an effort to deepen the intellectual foundation of exchange between Harvard and the region.