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

Selected Publications

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.

  • JONATHAN SULLIVAN and LEV NACHMAN, 2024. Taiwan: A contested democracy under threat Agenda.
  • JONATHAN SULLIVAN, 2024. Time matters in cross-Strait relations: Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwan’s future The China Quarterly. (In Press.)
  • TOBIAS ROSS, JONATHAN SULLIVAN and HONGYI LAI, 2023. Private Investment in Chinese Football Clubs: Political Capital and State-Business Exchanges Journal of Current Chinese Affairs.
  • JONATHAN SULLIVAN, YUPEI ZHAO and WEIXIANG WANG, 2023. China’s livestreaming local officials: An experiment in popular digital communications The China Quarterly.
  • SULLIVAN, J, ROSS, T and WU, C, 2022. Representing the Nation: Exploring attitudes toward naturalized foreign football players in China Soccer & Society.
  • SULLIVAN, J and ROSS, T, 2022. Doing sports business in China: Still a slam dunk?. In: CHADWICK S ET AL, ed., The Geopolitical Economy of Sport: Pivotal moments in a new era Routledge.
  • SULLIVAN, J and WANG, W, 2022. China’s “wolf warrior diplomacy”: The interaction of formal diplomacy and cyber-nationalism. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs.
  • SULLIVAN, J, 2022. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan The Annual Register. 263,
  • SULLIVAN, J and DRUN, J, 2022. Taiwan in US foreign policy. In: TURNER, O. ET AL, ed., Handbook of US foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific Routledge. (In Press.)
  • SULLIVAN, J, ZHAO, Y, CHADWICK, S and GOW, M, 2021. Chinese fans’ engagement with football: Transnationalism, authenticity and identity Journal of Global Sport Management.
  • SULLIVAN, J and LEE, D, 2021. Situating Tsai Ing-wen’s first term: Three decades of presidential discourse in Taiwan. In: SCUBERT, S and LEE, C, eds., Navigating Stormy Waters: Taiwan during the first Tsai Ing-wen administration 16-46
  • COCKAYNE, D, CHADWICK, S and SULLIVAN, J, 2021. Chinese football: From a state-led past to a digital future Journal of Global Sport Management.
  • SULLIVAN, J, 2021. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In: LEWIS, D and SLATER, W, eds., The Annual Register 262.
  • SULLIVAN, J, JEU, S and WANG, W, 2021. Rising Cyber China Turkish Policy Quarterly.
  • HESKETH, C and SULLIVAN, J, 2020. The production of leisure: understanding the social function of football development in China Globalizations. 17(6), 1061-1079
  • SULLIVAN, J, 2019. The co-evolution of media and politics in Taiwan: Implications for political communications International Journal of Taiwan Studies. 2(1), 85-110
  • SULLIVAN, J, CHAWICK, S and GOW, M, 2019. China’s Football Dream: Sport, Citizenship, Symbolic Power and Civic Spaces. Journal of Sport & Social Issues. 43(6), 493-514
  • SULLIVAN, J and ZHAO, Y, 2019. Rappers as Knights-Errant: Classic Allusions in the Mainstreaming of Chinese Rap Popular Music & Society. 44(3), 274-291
  • SULLIVAN, J. and KEHOE, S., 2018. “Truth, good and beauty:”: The politics of celebrity in China. The China Quarterly. 236, 241-256
  • SULLIVAN, J and LEE, D, 2018. Soft Power Runs Into Popular Geopolitics: Western Media Frames Democratic Taiwan International Journal of Taiwan Studies. 1(2), 273-300
  • SULLIVAN, J. and CHENG, J., 2018. Contextualizing Chinese migration to Africa Journal of Asian and African Studies. 53(8), 1173 –1187
  • SULLIVAN, J. and LEE, C. Y., eds., 2018. A New Era in Democratic Taiwan:: Trajectories and Turning Points in Politics and Cross-Strait Relations. Routledge.
  • SULLIVAN, J. and SMYTH, J., 2018. The KMT’s China policy: Gains and failures.. In: BECKERSHOFF, A. and SCHUBERT, G., eds., Assessing the Presidency of Ma Ying-jiu in Taiwan:: Hopeful Beginning, Hopeless End? Routledge.
  • SULLIVAN, J., RAWNSLEY, M., CHIEN, F. and SMYTH, J., 2018. The Media in democratic Taiwan. In: SULLIVAN, J. and LEE, C. Y., eds., A New Democratic Era in Taiwan Routledge.
  • CHADWICK, S and SULLIVAN, J, 2018. Football in China. In: Handbook of Football Business and Management Routledge.
  • RICH, T. and SULLIVAN, J., 2016. Elections and the Electoral System. In: Handbook of Modern Taiwan Politics and Society Routledge.
  • RAWNSLEY, M. Y. and SULLIVAN, J., 2016. Il sistema dei media a Taiwan Orizzonte Cina. 7(1),
  • SULLIVAN, J. and SMYTH, J, 2016. Taiwan’s 2016 presidential and legislative elections Journal of the British Association of Chinese Studies. 6, 81-112
  • RAWNSLEY, M. Y., SMYTH, J and SULLIVAN, J., 2016. Taiwanese media reform Journal of the British Association of Chinese Studies. 6, 66-80
  • SULLIVAN J, 2016. China Scholars and Twitter The China Quarterly. 229, 218-228
  • SULLIVAN J, 2015. Taiwanese Democracy. In: TIM WRIGHT, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies
  • SULLIVAN J and CHEN J, 2015. Ethnicities in Sinophone Cyberspace. Asian Ethnicity. 16(3),
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2014. China’s Weibo: Is faster different? New Media & Society. 16(1), 24-37
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2014. Technology, creativity and the media in engineering China’s future. New Media & Society. 16(3), 527-33
  • HORESH, N, KIM, H, MAUCH, P and SULLIVAN, J, 2014. Is my rival’s rival a friend? Popular third-party perceptions of territorial disputes in East Asia. Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. 31(1), 1-25.
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2014. China Scholars and the Media. The China Quarterly. 220, 1111-1122
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2014. Country Focus: China. Political Insight. 5(1), 10-14.
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2014. Democracy in the age of negativity, abundance and hybridity. Taiwan Journal of Democracy.. 10(2), 165-82.
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2013. Electronic resources in the study of elite political behaviour in Taiwan. The China Quarterly. 213, 1-16
  • SAPIR E., SULLIVAN J and VEEN T., 2013. Scale matters: Addressing the limited robustness of findings on negative advertising. Japanese Journal of Political Science. 14(4), 521-541
  • SULLIVAN J, 2013. Taiwan’s 2012 presidential election. Political Studies Review. 11(1), 65-74
  • SULLIVAN J and SAPIR E, 2013. Strategic cross-Strait discourse: Comparing three presidential terms. China Information. 27(1), 11-30
  • RENZ B and SULLIVAN J, 2013. Electronic data in Russian politics research. Europe-Asia Studies. 65(10), 1898-1911
  • RENZ B and SULLIVAN J, 2013. Russia’s tweeting governors: Making a connection in the provinces? East European Politics. 29(2), 135-51
  • FELL, D., SAPIR, E. and SULLIVAN, J., 2013. Taiwanese parties’ candidate selection in the aftermath of the change of ruling parties. Taiwan Journal of Democracy.. 9(2), 55-77
  • SULLIVAN, J. and SAPIR, E.V., 2012. Modeling negative campaign advertising: evidence from Taiwan Asian Journal of Communication. 22(3), 289-303
  • SULLIVAN, J. and SAPIR, E., 2012. Nasty or nice? Explaining positive and negative campaigning in Taiwan. The China Journal. 67, 149-170
  • SULLIVAN J., 2012. A Tale of Two Microblogs in China. Media, Culture & Society. 34(6), 773-83
  • SULLIVAN J, 2012. Teaching Chinese politics: Microblogging and student engagement. Journal of Chinese Political Science. 17(4), 1-16
  • SULLIVAN J and SEILER-HOLMER G, 2012. Comparing newspaper coverage of China in the South Pacific. Asia-Pacific Viewpoint. 53(2), 196-204
  • SULLIVAN, J. and RENZ, B., 2012. Representing China in the South Pacific East Asia. 29(4), 377-390
  • SULLIVAN J, 2012. External engagement in Taiwan studies. Issues and Studies. 48(2), 195-215
  • SULLIVAN J and SAPIR E., 2012. Ma Ying-jeou’s presidential discourse. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. 41(3), 33-68
  • SULLIVAN J, LI, Y. T and JAMES, P. AND DRURY, A. C., 2011. An Exchange on “Diversionary Dragons, or ‘Talking Tough in Taipei’”. Journal of East Asian Studies. 11(1), 137-52
  • SULLIVAN J, 2011. Trying to make a connection: Bloggers in the Legislative Yuan. American Journal of Chinese Studies. 18(2), 81-96
  • SULLIVAN, J. AND CHEON, S, 2011. Reconnecting representatives in two East Asian democracies. East Asia: An International Quarterly. 28(1), 21-36
  • SULLIVAN J, 2011. Is Taiwan Studies in decline? The China Quarterly. 207, 706-18
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2011. Election campaigning since the martial law era. In: BLUNDELL, D. AND BUCKLEY, M., ed., Taiwan Since Martial Law: Economics, Politics, Society Taipei: National Taiwan University Press. 348-74
  • SULLIVAN J. and SEILER-HOLMER G., 2011. Mapping the Taiwan studies field. Issues and Studies. 47(3), 1-28
  • SULLIVAN, J. and RENZ, B., 2010. Chinese migration: still the major focus of Russian Far East/Chinese North East relations? The Pacific Review. 23(2), 261-285
  • SULLIVAN, J. and LOWE, W., 2010. Chen Shui-bian: On independence The China Quarterly. 203, 619-638
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2010. Legislators' blogs in Taiwan. Parliamentary Affairs. 63(3), 471-85
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2009. Campaign advertising in Taiwanese presidential elections. Journal of Contemporary China. 18(61),
  • SULLIVAN, J. AND VEEN, T., 2009. The Council of Ministers: Shedding light on an opaque institution. Government and Opposition. 44(1), 113-23
  • SULLIVAN, J. and XIE, L., 2009. Environmental activism, social networks and the internet The China Quarterly. 198, 422-432
  • VEEN, T. AND SULLIVAN, J., 2009. News sources and decision-making in the EU Council: A rejoinder. Government and Opposition. 44(4), 471-75
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2009. Defending negativity?: Evidence from presidential campaigns in Taiwan. East Asia. 26(4), 305-20
  • SULLIVAN, J., 2008. Campaign advertising and democracy in Taiwan. The China Quarterly. 196, 900-11
  • SULLIVAN, J. AND SELCK, T., 2007. Political preferences, revealed positions and strategic votes: Explaining decision-making in the EU Council. Journal of European Public Policy. 14(7), 1150-61

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