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Jessica Liao

Assoc Professor

School of Public and International Affairs

Caldwell Hall NA


Jessica C. Liao is an associate professor of political science and 2020-2021 Wilson China Fellow. She spent the past two and a half years in Beijing and throughout 2022, served as an economic development specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing where she covered China’s relations with Belt and Road Initiative countries. Prior to NC State, she taught at George Washington University and was a visit fellow at Monash University, Kuala Lumpur campus. She received her PhD in international relations from the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and East Asian politics.


  • Rising China and its impact on the Global South and global governance
  • China’s energy and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia
  • China-ASEAN relations under the Belt and Road Initiative
  • The competition between China and Japan in foreign aid and development assistance in Southeast Asia

Research Publications


Developmental States and Business Activism: East Asia’s Trade Dispute Settlement (London: Palgrave Macmillan), November 2015.

Refereed articles

“State capacity, economic statecraft, and markets: Northeast Asian States’ rise (and fall) as global coal capital powers.” The Pacific Review The Pacific Review Volume 36, 2023 – Issue 5: Economic Statecraft in the Asia-Pacific (lead author; coauthored with Serena Waters).

“Talking Green, Building Brown: China-ASEAN Environmental and Energy Cooperation in the BRI Era,” Asian Perspective. Volume 46, Number 1, Winter 2022, pp. 21-47.

‘Institutions, Ideation, and Diffusion of Japan’s and China’s Overseas Infrastructure Promotion Policies,’ New Political Economy 02 Aug 2021, (lead author; coauthored with Saori N. Katada)

“The Club-based Climate Regime and OECD Negotiations on Restricting Coal-fired Power Export Finance,” Global Policy, September 2020.

“Geoeconomics, easy money, and political opportunism: the Perils under China and Japan’s high-Speed rail competition,” Contemporary Politics, September 2020 (coauthored with Saori N. Katada).

“China and Japan in pursuit of Infrastructure Development Leadership Competition or Convergence?” Global Governance 26(3), 2020: 449–472 (coauthored with Saori N. Katada)

“The nexus of security and economic hedging: Vietnam’s strategic response to Japan–China infrastructure financing competition,” The Pacific Review, April 23, 2019. (coauthored with Ngoc-Tram Dang).

“A Good Neighbor of Bad Governance? China’s Energy and Infrastructure Development in Southeast Asia,” Journal of Contemporary China, December 18, 2018.

“A Legacy of Subsidy Policies and Their Impact on China’s Use of the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism,” Asian Survey 53:6 (November/December 2013).

“China’s Response to the Global IPR Regime: Resistance or Compliance?” Issues & Studies, 42: 4 (Winter 2006).

Book chapter

“Vietnam’s Spatial and Hedging Strategies in Response to Chinese and Japanese Infrastructure Statecraft,” in ed. Seth Schindler and Jessica Dicarlo, The Rise of the Infrastructure State: How US-China Rivalry Sapes Politics and Place Worldwide (Bristol: Bristol University Press 2022).

“Confronting China’s and the United States’ ASEAN Policies,” in ed. Agata Ziętek, Grzegorz Gil, ASEAN in a Changing World (New York: Peter Lang 2021).


‘China’s Green Mercantilism and Environmental Governance: A New Belt and Road to the Global South?’ The Wilson Center China Fellow 2020 Report. Washington DC, April 2021.

Non-refereed publications

‘How BRI Debt Puts China at Risk,’ The Diplomat, October 27, 2021.

‘Easy Money and Political Opportunism: How China and Japan’s High-Speed Rail Competition in Indonesia drives financially risky projects,’ Blog post, the China Dialogue, December 21, 2020.

‘China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Its Infamous Debt: More of a Threat than a Trap,’ Red Diamond E-Newsletter, October 2019.

‘The Filipino Fox: There’s a Method to Duterte’s Madness,’ Foreign Affairs (Web Feature) January 18, 2017.

An Assessment of Taiwanese Civil Society 2005, CIVICUS Civil Society Index, An international action-research project CIVICUS, World Alliance for Citizen Participation (South Africa: CIVICUS), 2006 (second author).

The Sphere Project: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.

(Translation) Center for International Non-governmental Studies, National Sun Yat Sen University, 2004.


Presentations (selected)

‘China under Zero-covid and the Start of Xi’s Third Term: Look from Inside.” The Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the Carolina Asia Center, April 5, 2023.

‘Experimenting, learning, and adapting of China’s ‘Dam Diplomacy’ in Mekong from Go out to BRI’ Asia Series Lecture, Boston University, Sept 17, 2021.

‘China’s Green Mercantilism and Environmental Governance: A New Belt and Road to the Global South?’ Wilson china fellowship conference 2021, February 3-4, 2021.

‘China’s energy and mining development in Southeast Asia,’ SMA Conference Future of Global Competition and Conflict Speaker Series. 12 April, 2019.

‘Crisis in the South China Sea?’ a public talk at Fearington Village’s Great Decisions Program Series, May 10, 2018.

‘Taiwan: Nation State or Province?’ UNC World View’s East Asia seminar, March 22, 2018, Chapel Hill.

‘China’s resource and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia,’ Seminar Series, Triangle Institute for Security Studies Intelligence Center for Academic Excellence in Intelligence and Security Studies (TISS IC CAE), January 18, 2017.

‘The South China Sea: Troubled Waters,’ The Woman’s Club of Raleigh’s Great Decisions program, February 23, 2017.

‘China’s Energy and Infrastructure in Southeast Asia.’ Chinese Infrastructure and Energy Investment in Southeast Asia Workshop, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China), November 21, 2016.

Funded Research

UNC System Faculty Awards for Southeast Asian Studies (supported by The Henry Luce Foundation), UNC Chapel Hill, 2023.

Director’s Innovation Initiative (DII) Award, School of Public and International Affairs, NCSU. 2023.

Director’s Innovation Initiative (DII) Award, School of Public and International Affairs, NCSU. 2021.

The Wilson Center China Fellow, 2020-2021.

Junior Faculty Development Award, North Carolina State University, 2018-2019.

The 2018 Taiwan Conference Travel Grant, November 2018.

American Association for Chinese Studies Travel Grant, October 2017.

Shanghai Institutes for International Studies Workshop Travel Grant, November 2016.

Taiwanese American Foundation-Boston Graduate Fellowship, January 2013.

Tsai Family Summer Research Fund for Taiwan Studies, the University of Southern California, East Asian Studies Center, September 2012.

Korea Foundation Fellowship for Field Research, Korea Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, March-May 2012.

The US-China Institute, the University of Southern California, Graduate Summer Research Grant, May-July 2011.

Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grant, the School of International Relations, the University of Southern California 2008-2010.


M.A. China and Asian Pacific Studies National Sun Yat-Sun University, Taiwan 2006

Ph.D. Politics and International Relations The University of Southern California 2013

Area(s) of Expertise

Comparative politics, International political economy, East Asian politics, Chinese foreign policy, Japanese foreign policy, Regionalism