Jeffrey Zhao

Jeffrey Zhao


I am a PhD student researching the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s responses to liberal norms and China’s rising normative power. This research is funded by the POLIS Politics of Global Challenges International Scholarship.

I graduated from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, the Johns Hopkins University–Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies, with a master’s in international studies and specialisation in international law. As a master’s student, I received an Outstanding Thesis Award for the research analysing the reactions of India and Turkey to human rights and intervention norms promoted respectively by China and Russia.

I have experience in policy research, government affairs, journalism, English debate, and field research in Xinjiang and Yunnan, China. I also advanced to the World University Debate Championship (WUDC) EFL Semi-Finals in 2022.

Research interests

My academic interests include rising non-Western powers’ resistance, contestation, and localisation of liberal norms, authoritarian cooperation, Global South agency, anti-westernism, normative theories, and political ethnography. My doctoral research focuses on evaluating how authoritarian regionalism engages with liberal norms and its implications for the liberal international order.

My master’s thesis at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, supervised by Professor Adam K. Webb, examined India’s and Turkey’s reactions to the illiberal norms promoted by China and Russia. Through case studies and investigations of non-western identities, human rights and intervention practices, and geopolitical calculations, this thesis found that post-colonial identities better explain the two countries’ resonance with illiberal norms than closer bilateral ties or rational considerations. Although identities may foster anti-Western consensus, consensus remains limited.



the Centre for Democratic Politics


Journal Article:

Between Orders: The Longevity of Non-liberal Norm Diffusion and Post-Colonial Solidarity. Special Issue. “Transitional Orders in World Politics”. [In Progress]



  • Master in International Studies, Johns Hopkins University & Nanjing University (Joint Degree)
  • Bachelor of History, Shaanxi Normal University