School of Politics and International Relations

Image of Andreas Fulda

Andreas Fulda

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Andreas Fulda has specialized in the fields of democratization studies; philanthropy and civil society; citizen diplomacy; and EU-China relations.

His most recent book The Struggle for Democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Sharp Power and its Discontents (2019) has been widely praised.

"Filled with rich theoretical insights and fascinating on-the-ground stories, this wonderfully-written and absorbing book tells the story of how activists in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong think and strategize-sometimes opportunistically and at other times with deliberate intent-to advance democracy in their respective societies. The result is a compelling analysis of how and why some efforts have succeeded while others have failed, and the lessons future democracy activists should take away from both." - Elizabeth Economy, C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution

"Andreas Fulda's book is a powerful longitudinal comparison of three Chinese entities that live under very different political systems, mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and a convincing advocacy for democratization. Fulda well understands the magnitude of the obstacles that so far have prevented the People's Republic from democratizing: the Chinese Communist Party's Soviet or Leninist culture, the economic privileges accumulated by the Party's Nomenklatura and its inclination to rule by bribery and by fear in order to protect them. Nonetheless, Taiwan and Hong Kong's own trajectories and well as the maturation of mainland China's democratic movement over the years have demonstrated that future political change is possible in the People's Republic as well." - Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Professor of Political Science, Hong Kong Baptist University

"An informed and vivid study that tackles an important political issue of our time: the specter of China's sharp power. Dr. Fulda's monograph presents a comparative and historically-grounded analysis of the trends and repercussions of democracy movements in China and its periphery, which does not only enhance our understanding of the nexus between mass protests and authoritarian resilience, but more specifically, offers a heuristic device to unpack the operations of the party-state's united front against dissent." - Edmund Cheng, Deputy Director, Comparative Governance and Public Policy Research Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University

"This is an inspiring and timely book. Andreas Fulda makes a crucial point which cannot be reiterated enough: as researchers, we must give legitimacy to all potential outcomes for China's future. This process starts with acknowledging that the Chinese Communist Party's power is not inevitable. Research on Chinese politics often operates on the assumptions that the CCP will organically change itself and that democracy advocates are somehow not 'normal' people and will not be effective. Fulda suggests otherwise. By applying theories of and for political change to case studies in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he offers an innovative way for filling this major gap in existing literature. Fulda sets a standard that breaks the confines of existing analytical approaches. It is a must-read contribution." - Samantha Hoffman, Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

"In this fresh and courageous book, Fulda pulls at the roots of his subject - democracy in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - like a gardener tackling a by-now gnarly field, and finds hope, even a plan of action: Fill the gap between theory and practice by learning from Chinese democracy practitioners, plant into democracy theory ideas of change drawn from development studies, cultivate a humanizing pedagogy that rejects domination by propaganda and power, and move away from the internalized compliance with Communist Party discourse that is by now widespread in western academia. An inspiring read packed with ideas." - Didi Kirsten Tatlow is a former MERICS Visiting Academic Fellow. She reported from China for her hometown newspaper, the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong, the International Herald Tribune (now the global edition of The New York Times,) and The New York Times, from 2003 to 2017

"Most of the recent political science debate on China has been centered on the regime, its governance system and its assumed stability, perfectness, fragility or decay. The results are relevant but necessarily limited as they do not take into account systematically the strategic interaction of the regime with a variety of democratizing movements, which are often hidden because of inherent regime secrecy and information blockades, officially dictated framing and sanctioned taboos. Andreas Fulda, in his role as a social scientist and civil society practitioner, takes a fresh and alternative look from the perspective of the democratizing movements at the comparative political development of Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

His actor-centric approach reveals through twelve democratizing episodes as case studies the asynchronous processes of the gradual construction of democracy movements and democracy in the states of Greater China. It makes visible and intelligible that the democracy movements of Mainland China are vitally alive, developing, learning their lessons and preparing - by strategic decentralization, multiplication of arenas and combining different strategies and actors (anti-establishment, trans-establishment and establishment reformers) - the next steps of peaceful democracy advocacy aiming at a gradual democratic transformation.

As a dialogue between theory and practice, external observer assessment and actor perspective, it is a fundamental contribution to the story of political development of Reform China framed by a democratic counter-narrative based on the structural trends and the experiences, learning processes and the horizons of expectation of the democracy movements. The implicit subtext of the actors and the author alike are the urgency, possibility and strategic lessons to be drawn of a social liberalism protecting Chinese citizens from fear of many kinds of political and social injustice. Everybody, social scientist or democratic activist, who is concerned about the shift to sharp authoritarianism in China and its threatening global impact and is interested in democratic alternatives made in China, should read the book. His second decisive contribution is to highlight the relevance of a civic, civil, democratic nationalism and of democratic citizen diplomacy for a sustainable peace settlement between the states of the Greater China region - in contrast to a narrow, ethnic nationalism which is present on all three sides of the Greater China arena which is identified by the author as a threat and a case of pathological learning." - Horst Fabian, Civil Society Ambassador Europe - China and independent researcher focusing on the linkages between China / Cuba, democratization and sustainable development

"Andreas Fulda shows that even the democracy movements in the Chinese region are not exempt from the global trend towards nationalism. His critical and judicious study is a plea to combine the struggle for rights and freedom with an effort to build peace in the region." - Mark Siemons is an editor of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and author of the book Die chinesische Verunsicherung (Hanser, 2017), in which he reflects on his insights as long-term cultural correspondent in Beijing

"This is a highly engaged and engaging consideration of the continuing struggle for democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Dr Fulda ventures beyond purely scholarly curiosity to offer practitioners fresh and stimulating analysis of past achievements and failures. The book offers some encouragement - and words of warning - to readers looking for a roadmap to democratic change in China." - Nicola Macbean, The Rights Practice

His edited book Civil Society Contributions to Policy Innovation in the PR China (2015) has been praised by leading academics and prominent foundation representatives alike.

"Emerging out of the EU-China Civil Society Dialogue Programme this book brings together several empirical studies of how civil society organizations contribute to policy change and innovation. The case studies of environmental health and disability groups are particularly illuminating. A fine collection of studies that are an essential read for students of social change in China." - Professor Jude Howell, The London School of Economics

"Civil Society Contributions to Policy Innovations in the PR China is the one and only compass any academic or practitioner will need in order to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of Chinese civil society with skill and confidence. Dr Andreas Fulda's nuanced and culturally sensitive perspective on Chinese civil society provides an invaluable account of a complex and rapidly changing field." - Dr Flora Sapio

"This book explores the ways in which civil society actors contribute to policy innovation in China. Sector-specific chapters are interspersed with notes from the field adding important nuance. New analyses of the emergence of government procurement of social services and social enterprise contribute to an overall understanding of how civil society is evolving in the Chinese context." - Elizabeth D. Knup, Representative/China, The Ford Foundation

"This book is very comprehensive and authoritative for the international community to understand Chinese NGO's engagements and contributions to policy innovation. The documented cases demonstrate Chinese NGOs have been making impacts on various important policies, from environmental protection to labour. However, there are many crucial obstacles for Chinese NGO to overcome if they want to make more influential and structural roles on policy changes." - Dr Howard Hung to Liu

In addition to his advocacy for liberalization and democratization in mainland China Dr Fulda has exercised intellectual leadership by advocating for a more critical, creative and constructive European China engagement.

While conventional approaches to EU-China relations primarily focus on trade and investment and emphasize the importance of government-to-government ties, his scholarship highlights that a sustainable partnership between Europe and China requires the strengthening of civil society exchanges and collaborative people-to-people relations in multi-track diplomacy.

His research bridges theory and practice, engages wider groups and communities in policy, industry, practice and public, involves academics, civil society practitioners and policy makers, and aims to influence European China policy.

His PhD research on Sino-German development cooperation and European civil society assistance to China has informed briefings with politicians and foreign policy makers.

During his PhD research (2003-07) Dr Fulda organised three roundtable meetings between Chinese civil society practitioners and German politicians on behalf of the German Embassy in Beijing.

He co-authored a China Country Report on the status of participatory development commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2006.

He also reported key findings from his research to the Head of the German parliamentary Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development (AWZ).

Conclusions from his PhD thesis directly informed a parliamentary inquiry and a parliamentary motion of the German Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) in 2008.

In his published PhD thesis (2009) he critiqued Germany's foreign and development policy towards China and examined new approaches for civil society assistance.

In her book review Professor Bettina Gransow (Free University Berlin) praised Dr Fulda's monograph for "not only being provocative but also inspiring."

The German Stiftung Asienhaus remarked that "this book is not only a good read for anyone interested in state- and civil society-led German development cooperation, but also for all those who who deal with the possibilities and limitations of external actors engaging with civil society actors in China."

His academic work has also shaped the thinking among German, British and European foreign policy makers. He reflected on his dual role as foreign policy analyst and social development practitioner in research articles for International Quarterly for Asian Studies (2009) and Political Science & Politics (2011).

Drawing on his experiential learning Dr Fulda has also conducted pioneering research on the principles and practices of citizen diplomacy, as evident from his widely-read open-access article 'The Emergence of Citizen Diplomacy in European Union-China Relations: Principles, Pillars, Pioneers, Paradoxes', which was published in the leading journal Diplomacy & Statecraft in Spring 2019. Since its publication on 27 Februrary 2019 this research article has been accessed 934 times. The University of Southern California (USC) Center for Public Diplomacy featured his research article as a key case study on EU-China relations.

Dr Fulda's expertise is in high demand across industry and government.

This is evident from frequent requests to provide consultancy services (e.g. AETS Consultants, CEPA 2, AGRER, B&S Europe, British Council). As the PI for five projects and as commissioned researcher he has also raised £1,035,000 from international funders, including the European Commission (2011-14), British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2011-12), Legatum Foundation (2014-17) and Ford Foundation (2017-19). Commissioned research for Geneva Global informed his article on the contested role of foundations in China in the open-acces journal JBACS (2017).

He has also engaged in knowledge transfer during events with external audiences in Europe and the United States.

Dr Fulda has engaged in knowledge transfer during high-profile events in the UK and mainland Europe.

He appeared on Al Jazeera's most recent episode of their series Head to Head, entitled 'What is the human cost to China's economic miracle?', as part of a panel of experts on the topic including Victor Gao (Vice President of the China for China and Globalisation) and Professor Steve Tsang (Director of the China Institute, University of London) responding to the debate taking place between host Mehdi Hasan and key speaker Charles Liu (Senior Fellow at Peking University and informal adviser to the Chinese government). Filmed at the Oxford Union, the debate was broadcast to a potential audience of forty million households on Friday 15 March at 8pm GMT. It can be still be viewed online and has thus far amassed over 550,000 views on YouTube alone.

Another example of his thought leadership is the keynote speech on the state of China's civil society at the 26 January 2017 Paris conference organised by the Institut Francais Des Relations Internationales (IFRI) on 'China's Stability at Risk: Economic, Social and Environmental Challenges'.

Dr Fulda frequently comments on current Chinese affairs via traditional and new media.

Between 2015 and 2019 he made twenty-five media appearances on Sky News, France 24, BBC Radio, Al Jazeera, and TRT respectively. Particularly noteworthy was his invitation to comment on Hong Kong's popular uprising on BBC Radio 4 World at One on 22 July 2019.

Dr Fulda is frequently quoted in China-related reports by global newspapers ranging from Bloomberg, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The Globe and Mail, Daily Mail, Neue Züricher Zeitung, Weekendavisen, Reformatorisch Dagblad, El Confidencial, El Mercurio, La Razon, The Korea Times, Japan Times, Merdeka, Republika, Bisnis to Một Thế Giới.

His opinion-editorials have appeared in Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Independent, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Free Press and China Daily. A particularly noticeable op-ed on the topic 'Beijing Is Weaponizing Nationalism Against Hong Kongers' was published by Foreign Policy on 29 July 2019. His corresponding Twitter thread was read more than 27,000 times.

Dr Fulda has also regularly published in online magazines. They include the University of Nottingham's Asia Dialogue; The Conversation; IP Journal of the German Council on Foreign Relations; and LibMod, the online journal of the Center for Liberal Moder­nity.

He also has a global digital footprint in the form of numerous contributions to online debates facilitated by US-based think tanks such as ChinaFile, an online magazine published by the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society, dedicated to promoting an informed, nuanced, and vibrant public conversation about China, in the U.S. and around the world.

Furthermore, Dr Fulda has also also engaged with the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. His podcast on the future of China's civil society with Professor Elizabeth Economy (C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations) was accessed 1,619 times and introduced key findings from his book 'Civil Society Contributions to Policy Innovation in the PR China' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) to a global audience.

The five-part Video Policy Brief series, which Dr Fulda produced on behalf of the China Policy Institute and Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies between 2016 and 2017 in the context of an ESRC IAA project, was promoted via Facebook and viewed 15,180 times.

Selected Publications

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