Yuan Wang

Research Topic:

Political leadership and state capacity: A comparative study of Sino-African infrastructure cooperation
Government and Politics Network
Mansfield College
DPhil Politics

I am completing my DPhil in Politics at DPIR, University of Oxford. My research concerns political leadership, state cpacity, and China-Africa infrastructure cooperation. My thesis investigates why Chinese-financed and -constructed develop into starkly different trajectories in different African countries.

I hold a Master of Science (MSc) in Politics Research from Oxford, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard Kennedy School, and a Bachelor of Law in international relations from Shanghai International Studies University. Before Oxford, I served in the China office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and at the Sino-Africa Centre of Excellence Foundation’s (SACE Foundation) Nairobi office for a total of three years. 


My research interests include:

  • Comparative Politics and Government,
  • Political economy and international political economy,
  • Public Policy,
  • States,
  • Political Economy


Teaching experience:

  • Seminar Leader, Evidence and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, 2020
  • Teaching Assistant, Essential Statistics for Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, 2019
  • Course Assistant, Social Institutions and Economic Development, Harvard Kennedy School, 2013

Teaching interest:

  • Comparative political economy of development
  • Comparative politics
  • African politics
  • Qualitative research methods


  • 2018 – 2021 China Scholarship Council
  • 2016 China Oxford Scholarship Fund
  • 2015 China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS-CARI) Fellowship
  • 2013 Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government of Harvard Kennedy School, funding for thesis
  • 2012 Harvard Kennedy School Summer Internship Fund
  • 2010 The 11th “Challenging Cup” Academic Competition, 2nd place in Shanghai and 3rd place nationally


Fluent in English and Chinese, conversational level in Portuguese, French, and Japanese.

Yuan Wang



  • Wang, Y. and Y., Luo, (2015). China Business Perception Index: Survey on Chinese Companies' Perception of Doing Business in Kenya.Geneva:

Peer-reviewed Articles:

  • Wang, Y. ‘Individual Agency in State Capacity: Comparing Sino-African Railways in Kenya and Ethiopia.’ (Accepted, Journal of Comparative Politics)
  • Wang, Y. and U. Wissenbach, 2019. ‘Clientelism at work? A case study of Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway project.’ Economic History of Developing Regions. Special issue on Africa and China: Emerging Patterns of Engagement.


  • Sun, Y. and Y. Wang, (2015)‘Learning to Collaborate: The Case Study of a Chinese-Kenyan CSR Effort.’ In Young-Chan Kim (eds). China and Africa: A New Paradigm of Global Business. Springer. 
  • Wissenbach, U. and Y. Wang, (2015). ‘Development Policy – alternatives, challenges and opportunities.’ In Wang, J. and W. Song, China, the European Union and International Politics of Global Governance. Palgrave Macmillan. 

Policy Papers:

  • Wissenbach, U. and Y. Wang, (2017). ‘Local politics meets Chinese engineers – A study into the Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway Project in Kenya.’ Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies China-Africa Research Initiative (SAIS-CARI) working paper.
  • Wissenbach, U. and Y. Wang, (2017). ‘Local Politics Meets Chinese Engineers: A Study of the Chinese-Built Standard Gauge Railway Project In Kenya.’ Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies China-Africa Research Initiative (SAIS-CARI) policy brief.
  • Wang, Y. and S. Zadek, (2016). ‘Sustainability Impacts of Chinese Outward Direct Investment: A Review of the Literature.’ International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) working paper. 


Conference Papers and Presentations:


  • African Studies Association; Panel: African Understandings and Agency in China-Africa Engagements. Paper: Individual Agency in State Capacity: Comparing Sino-Africa railway development in Kenya and Ethiopia. Virtual conference.
  • American Political Science Association; Panel: state-building in comparative perspective. Paper: Reconciling efficiency and accountability? Virtue conference.


  • Shanghai Conference on Africa and Asia, Harvard Center for African Studies; Panel: Infrastructure, Trade, and Industrialization. Paper: Chinese-Funded and Constructed Railway Projects in Sub-Saharan African States. Shanghai.
  • Oxford University China Africa Network: Between Physical and Ideological Mobility; Panel: The Politics of Transport: Realpolitik, Elite Ideologies and the Role of Infrastructure. Paper: Politicization for Development: The politics of Sino-Africa railway cooperation. Oxford.
  • China Africa Research Initiative Annual Conference; Panel: China, Africa, and the West. Paper: The politics of Sino-Africa infrastructure development. Washington D.C.