William Hurst is Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (FAMES) and Co-Director at the Centre for Geopolitics. Bill received his PhD in 2005 from the University of California-Berkeley and, following two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford, held tenured or tenure-track posts at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Toronto, and Northwestern University, in addition to a fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, before coming to Cambridge in January 2021.

At the Centre for Geopolitics, coordinates many aspects of research, activities, and events, especially on the Indo-Pacific and Global Strands. His own research in this area is especially concentrated on Chinese foreign policy, international relations, and evolving role in the world, as well as the broader politics of the South China Sea and Southeast Asia in general. In particular, Bill is interested in the interaction of domestic politics and international structural factors in shaping the ways in which states approach different aspects of their relations (e.g. pertaining to trade, security, or the exchange of people or ideas) with other countries.

Outside of his work on international relations, Bill has long-running and ongoing interests in political economy, the politics of development, law and society, and urban politics, as well as social movements and contentious politics. He continues to pursue research on these in China, Indonesia, and other countries. His first book, The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge 2009), explored the politics of more than 35 million workers laid off from Chinese state-owned enterprises in the 1990s and 2000s, based on extensive interviews and field research in nine different cities. His second book, Ruling Before the Law: the Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (Cambridge 2018), was the first major monograph to compare the world’s largest and fourth largest countries and the most comprehensive work in decades on either country’s legal system at the grassroots. He is currently at work on a book explaining the dynamics of land politics, the political economy of state formation, and the long-run implications of dramatic change and critical bargains struck in the 1950s and 1960s in China, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Besides these books, he’s also published a wide array of edited volumes, articles, chapters, essays, op-eds, and the like.

What excites Bill most about being at the Centre for Geopolitics is that nowhere else takes history, structure, domestic politics, and the potential of leadership or other contingencies so carefully into account when thinking about and debating international relations. Eschewing simple (or simplistic) arguments and explanations to examine issues and questions both at close range and against a broader tableau has always been a hallmark of the Centre’s approach and Bill is honoured to be able to contribute to its growth and development.

Related

Security

Indo-Pacific Roundtable 2024: Security

In the press

How China is fortifying its economy for war with the West

Sunday 12th May, 2024

How China is fortifying its economy for war with the West

Prof. William Hurst is quoted in this extensive article in The Telegraph.

In the press

Royaume-Uni : des élections catastrophiques pour les conservateurs

Sunday 5th May, 2024

Royaume-Uni : des élections catastrophiques pour les conservateurs

Centre for Geopolitics co-director Prof. William Hurst contributes to this analysis of local election results and their implications for an upcoming General Election.

Economics, History

Made in China, with Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson

In the press

Andrew Peach show on LBC News

Tuesday 30th April, 2024

Andrew Peach show on LBC News

Prof. William Hurst is interviewed by Andrew Peach on LBC News about Chinese Coastguard vessels using water cannon on Philippine patrol boats. The six-minute interview appears about 1hr 48mins into the programme.

Economics, Maritime, Security

Challenges in the South China Sea

Friday 26th April, 2024

Challenges in the South China Sea

Expert Analysis

High stakes at low tide: The Second Thomas Shoal in context

History

Ancient Geopolitics: Iran

Friday 12th April, 2024

Ancient Geopolitics: Iran

In the press

Chinese sea attacks on US ally risk bigger confrontation

Monday 1st April, 2024

Chinese sea attacks on US ally risk bigger confrontation

Prof. William Hurst offers his analysis of rising tensions between China and the Philippines, and their potential security and defence implications for the wider region. He contributes to this package on “The World” which was put out by NPR.

Authoritarianism, Economics

What are China’s ambitions for the world order?

Business, Technology

Taiwan, technology and trade

Friday 8th March, 2024

Taiwan, technology and trade

In the press

How China strangled its golden goose – and paid a terrible price

Thursday 29th February, 2024

How China strangled its golden goose – and paid a terrible price

Centre for Geopolitics director, Prof. William Hurst, is quoted in an article in The Telegraph about China and Hong Kong’s apparent cultural isolation.

Podcast

Episode 43: Taiwan’s elections – what do the results signify?

Thursday 8th February, 2024

Episode 43: Taiwan’s elections – what do the results signify?

Professor Ali Ansari and Suzanne Raine are joined by Professor Bill Hurst, Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, to ask what we should conclude from the results of the Taiwanese elections on 13 January.

Business, Ethics

Corporate socialist responsibility: business ethics in Xi Jinping’s new era

In the press

Why China’s great property bust threatens to backfire on the West

Monday 29th January, 2024

Why China’s great property bust threatens to backfire on the West

Bill Hurst is quoted extensively in this article in The Telegraph.

Elections

What voters chose: responses to Taiwan’s election

Announcement

The Centre’s 2023 Annual Report

Monday 1st January, 2024

The Centre’s 2023 Annual Report

Populism

Populism in the Indo-Pacific

Wednesday 15th November, 2023

Populism in the Indo-Pacific

Elections

Key elections in Southeast and East Asia

Friday 20th October, 2023

Key elections in Southeast and East Asia

Peace building

Korea Global Forum 2023

Friday 29th September, 2023

Korea Global Forum 2023

Business, Economics

Xiconomics: What China’s Dual Circulation Strategy Means for Global Business

Business, Economics

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Maritime, Security

All at sea?  Testing the UK’s resolve in the Pacific region

Economics

The end of globalisation?

Friday 26th May, 2023

The end of globalisation?

In the press

Are we in a new Cold War? Experts remain divided but all warn of danger of Vladimir Putin

Sunday 21st May, 2023

Are we in a new Cold War? Experts remain divided but all warn of danger of Vladimir Putin

Professor William Hurst is mentioned in Are we in a new Cold War? Experts remain divided but all warn of danger of Vladimir Putin for iNews.

In the press

Guns before butter? Multi-dimensional diplomacy in China-Europe relations

Wednesday 17th May, 2023

Guns before butter? Multi-dimensional diplomacy in China-Europe relations

9DASHLINE publishes Guns before butter? Multi-dimensional diplomacy in China-Europe relations by Professor William Hurst.

Announcement

Visit of Taiwanese delegates

Monday 17th April, 2023

Visit of Taiwanese delegates

In the press

Chris Mann on BBC Radio Cambridge about Donald Trump

Wednesday 5th April, 2023

Chris Mann on BBC Radio Cambridge about Donald Trump

Professor William Hurst interviewed by Chris Mann on BBC Radio Cambridge about Donald Trump.

Authoritarianism, Education, Technology

‘The Rise and the Fall of the EAST’, with Huang Yasheng

Diplomacy, Law, Security

Garren Mulloy examines Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision

Commentary

Professor Bill Hurst’s tweet on the protests in China goes viral

Podcast

Episode 21: Protest in China

Wednesday 7th December, 2022

Episode 21: Protest in China

Professor Bill Hurst and Suzanne Raine examine the significance of the recent outbreak of protests in many cities in China, and the CCP’s response.  

Diplomacy

Making sense of how sense is made of Chinese foreign policy

In the press

Professor William Hurst writes in Time magazine about Chinese protests

Monday 5th December, 2022

Professor William Hurst writes in Time magazine about Chinese protests

Professor William Hurst writes in Time magazine about Chinese protests.

Diplomacy, Environment

Taiwan’s Green Party diplomacy: Origins, evolution and impact

In the press

Professor William Hurst appears on “Live with Lizzie Lee”

Saturday 19th November, 2022

Professor William Hurst appears on “Live with Lizzie Lee”

Professor William Hurst appears on “Live with Lizzie Lee”, a video channel in The China Project, answering questions on about street protests in China.

Episode 19: China – taking stock

Wednesday 9th November, 2022

Episode 19: China – taking stock

What happened at the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and what does it mean for China’s future direction? Ali and Suzanne are joined by Professor Bill Hurst, who talks us through personalities, drama, and the new Chinese focus on persistence and security.