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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Zikun Yang is a PhD candidate at the Department of Politics and International Relations. She is interested in rising powers’ competitive socialization and their contribution to the evolution of liberal international norms and law, with a specific focus on diplomatic history and treaty negotiation. Her dissertation project examines China’s counterintuitive commitment to sovereignty-compromising Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from the 1980s to 2020s. She supervises undergraduate papers on international organizations (POL 3), US foreign policy (POL 14), and Chinese politics (ICE Unit 3) for both POLIS and the Institute of Continuing Education at Cambridge.

Before starting her PhD, Zikun has worked as the research assistant for various think tanks (the Woodrow Wilson Center), university (Tsinghua University), and law firms. She holds an MPhil in International Relations and Politics from the University of Cambridge, and a dual-BA with honor in International Relations and Law, History, and Culture from the University of Southern California.

College: Peterhouse


Research topics: Forcible Humanitarian Intervention and Peacekeeping, International Law and Norms, Chinese Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Wartime Sexual Violence.


Key publications: 

Yang, Zikun. 2022 (with Hu Tianzhen, Li Li, Cheng Chow, Zhipeng Lu, Chen You). “An Analysis of the Willingness to the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots among Urban Employees: Evidence from a Megacity H in Eastern China" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 4: 2300.

Yang, Zikun. 2021 (with Li Li). "Positioning Religion in International Relations: The Performative, Discursive, and Relational Dimension of Religious Soft Power" Religions 12, no. 11: 940.

Thesis Title: Rising Powers and Norm Containment: Examining Variation in China’s Attitudes towards Liberal International Norms
Supervisor: Dr Giovanni Mantilla

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