School of Politics and International Relations

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Jonathan Sullivan

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Jonathan Sullivan is a China specialist and political scientist. He has been studying China formally since 1996. He attained a First with Distinction in Spoken Chinese for his BA in Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds and has Masters degrees in Asia Pacific Studies (University of Leeds) and Political Science (University of Nottingham). He completed his PhD at the University of Nottingham in 2010.

Dr Sullivan is interested in all aspects of China and Chinese life, from his specialist research on political behavior, political communications, foreign and cross-Strait relations to amateur interests in Chinese literature, film, music, and, naturally, food.

Dr Sullivan has worked extensively with various governments and government departments, including an ESRC funded collaborative project with the FCDO. Dr Sullivan has extensive engagement with the media, frequently writing and commenting on issues relating to China. He was a British Science Association media fellow, which facilitated a period of work at the BBC.

Expertise Summary

Chinese politics, internet and media; China's relations with its neighbors; China's expanding global role; Cross-Strait relations; Taiwanese politics and elections; political communications; Chinese football, celebrity and influencer economy

Teaching Summary

Convenor: International Politics of the Asia-Pacific [year 1]

Convenor: The politics of celebrity, sex and alternative lifestyles in China [MA]

Lecturer: Global Asia [MA]

Research Summary

Dr Sullivan works in multiple fields, including Chinese politics and foreign relations, Taiwanese politics and cross-Strait relations, Chinese political communications and media, digital politics,… read more

Dr Sullivan welcomes inquiries from potential PhD students in:

Chinese politics and foreign relations

Taiwanese politics and cross-Strait relations

Chinese political communications and media,

Digital politics, celebrity and popular culture

Chinese football

UK-China relations

Any other projects more broadly located within Chinese and Taiwanese politics, foreign relations, the internet and media, issues surrounding China's expanding global presence and UK-Taiwan relations.

Dr Sullivan has broad methodological training, and has taught both quantitative and qualitative methods in the University's Doctoral Training Centre. Proposals for projects that employ text analytical methods, especially computer-assisted/machine learning applications, are greatly welcomed.

Completed PhDs under Dr Sullivan's supervision include theses on heresy in Chinese state discourse, Chinese economic activity in North Korea, humiliation and pride in cyber-nationalist discourse, the concept of homeland in Tibetan identity construction, governance and corruption in Shenzhen, transnational 'friendship diplomacy' on social media and cyber-bullying in Chinese social media.

Dr Sullivan's graduating PhD students are currently working in academic positions at universities in the UK, Europe and Asia, in addition to academia-adjacent sectors. In addition to supervising a diverse range of theses, Dr Sullivan has examined 25 PhDs at other institutions in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australasia. From August 1st 2023, he will serve as Director of the School's PhD programme.

Current PhDs being supervised by Dr Sullivan include theses on Chinese football, propaganda and ideology, Chinese cyber-governance, Russian political opposition, China-Philippines relations, "wolf warrior diplomacy", China's global engagement in the developing world, and the ideology of the Chinese Dream.

Current Research

Dr Sullivan works in multiple fields, including Chinese politics and foreign relations, Taiwanese politics and cross-Strait relations, Chinese political communications and media, digital politics, celebrity and popular culture, the politics of Chinese football and UK-China relations. He has published extensively in all these areas and more.

School of Politics and International Relations

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