My research centers on civil society and NGO policies in China; China’s diplomacy; and attitudes towards China. My other research areas include personalization of executive power in both democray and autocracy contexts. I have experience using a wide variety of methods including fieldwork, surveys, statistical analyses, and text analyses. More recently, I am using computational methods to collect data and applying text mining to uncover discourse and narratives, as well as quantitative analysis of survey data and survey experiments to gauage micro-level causal effects.

Peer-reviewed Publications

Civil Society and NGO Policy in China

Funded by Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), Stanford University; Center for Philanthrophy and Civil Society (PACS) at Stanford University

7. Song, E. E. 2022. How Outsourcing Social Services to NGOs Bolsters Political Trust in China: Evidence from Shanghai. Chinese Political Science Review. 1-27. [Open Access Link]

6. Song, E. E. Explaining the Expansion of the NGO Sector in China: Through the Lense of Adaptive Corporatist Governance. forthcoming in Asian Politics & Policy.

Attitudes Towards China

5. Song, E. E. 2023. Air Pollution Coverage, Anti-Chinese Sentiment, and Attitudes towards Foreign Policy in South Korea. Journal of Chinese Political Science. [Open Access Link]

4. Song, E. E. 2023. COVID-19, Anti-Chinese Sentiment, and Foreign Policy Attitudes in South Korea. Asian Survey.[Link]

Personalization of Executive Power

3. Song, E. E. and Ines Miral. 2023. Personalization of Executive Power after COVID-19 in South Korea. Korea Observer, 54(4), 641-670. [Link].


2. Song, E. E. and Joanne Yang. 2023. China’s Adherence to International Human Rights Treaties: an Empirical Assessment. International Area Studies Review. [Open Access Link]

1. Song, E. E. 2023. Long-Term Effects of Authoritarian Repression: Evidence from the Gwangju Massacre in South Korea, 1980. Asian Journal of Comparative Politics, 8(1), 364–380. [Open Access Link]

Book Chapters

1. “Changes in State-Civil Society Relations in China during Hu and Xi.” With Runya Qiaoan. In Czeslaw Tubilewicz (Eds.), Critical Issues in Contemporary China. Routledge. in print.

Media & Policy

3. Why aren’t South Koreans studying in China anymore?. East Asia Forum, May 2024.

2. South Koreans Have the World’s Most Negative Views of China. Why?. The Diplomat, December 2022 (with Richard Turcsanyi).

1. Rising Anti-China Sentiment Supports South Korea’s Alignment with the US. GIGA Focus Asia. [Open Access Link]

On-going Research

Beijing December 2015

Civil Society & NGO Policy Under Authoritarianism

Book Project
NGOs, the State, and Legitimacy in Contemporary China

What explains the growth of the NGO sector in China during the recent decades? Departing from previous works that focus on the agency of societal actors, I draw attention to state incentives in promoting the growth of the civic sector. The state initiatives that led to the increase emerge during the two periods: the early 2000s, when NGOs were used as vehicles of bureaucratic streamlining, and the post-2011 period, when NGOs are promoted as service deliverers at the grassroots level with the ultimate goal of minimizing social instability. Three questions addressed in my book-length dissertation are: (1) why has the party-state created institutional space for NGOs? (2) what explains the variation in the success of bureaucratic streamlining that involves the use of NGOs to downsize the bureaucracy in the early 2000s? (3) How is the party-state promoting the growth of service-oriented NGOs in the post-2011 period, and what are the effects of these services on citizens’ perception of the state? Drawing on theories of public sector reform, authoritarian politics, and non-state service provision, and evidence from fieldwork, text analyses, government statistical data and an original survey conducted in the field, my project comprehensively demonstrate how an authoritarian state such as China can counterintuitively utilize non-governmental organizations and civil society to serve its interests.

Working Papers

Narratives on China

China’s Diplomacy

Personalization of Executive Power


South Korea’s Foreign Policy

Methods in Text-as-Data

China and Democracy

Albeit being a non-democratic country, the Communist Party of China has not neglected the idea of ‘democracy’ - the earliest discussion of democracy goes back to 2009 when Yu Keping, advisor to Hu Jintao released an essay “Democracy is a Good Thing”. More recently, the idea of democracy has been again mentioned in the white paper released by the CCP before the Democracy Summit headed by President Biden in December 2021. This project aims to examine the history of how democracy has been interpreted in China and how it is being used as a legitmizing tool for the CCP. In addition, this project also aims to examine how “democracy with Chinese characteristics” affects international audience and their interpretation of China’s soft power.