Dr Siyuan Li

Dr Siyuan Li


I received my PhD from the Department of East Asian Studies and the Centre for International Business at the University of Leeds. Before that, I obtained my MA and BA from the University of Leeds and SNNU respectively. I am a tutor at the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

My research interests fall broadly into the category of international relations, international education and development. I am particularly interested in how International Language and Culture Promotion Organisations (for example, the Confucius Institute, British Council, Alliance Française and Goethe-Institut) play their role in international relations, international education and development. I am also interested in power theories in social sciences, such as Foucault’s conception of power and Nye’s soft power theory. I have fieldwork research experience in China, USA, Germany, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania.

Recent publications and presentations

  • 2021 – China's Confucius Institute in Africa: a different story?, International Journal of Comparative Education and Development.1108/IJCED-02-2021-0014
  • 2021 – China's Soft Power in Africa: A Case Study of China's Language and Culture Promotion Organisations in Africa. In: The 23rd Biennial Conference of the European Association for Chinese Studies, Leipzig University, Germany.
  • 2020 – A Network of Power with Chinese Identity: The Methodology of Research on China’s Confucius Institute in Africa. In: Chinese Positionality: A Reflective Discussion on Conducting Research in Africa, China Institute, SOAS University of London and LSE, UK.
  • 2018 – Creating a Community of Common Identity: China’s Confucius Institute in Africa. In: EU-China relations in times of crisis and disintegration, Jean Monnet Centre for Excellence and the Aston Centre for Europe and the Department for Politics and International Relations, June, Aston University, UK.
  • 2015 – The Power Technology of the Confucius Institute: A Case of the Confucius Institute in Africa. In: East Asia Research Collaboration Network - New Forms of Internationalisation, University of Hull, UK.
  • 2015 – Creating a Network of Power: the Going-out Strategies of China's Confucius Institutes in Africa. Workshop DFG Research Training Group 1613 “Risk and East Asia”, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
  • 2014 – Li, S., Ampiah, K., and Voss, H. The Meaning of Public Diplomacy in the Discourse of Power in International Relations: Mainstream vs. Foucault. In: International Conference on Theory and Practice of China’s Public Diplomacy, University of Nottingham, UK.
  • 2014 – China’s Confucius Institute in Africa: Soft Power, Hard Power or Smart Power? In: The New Research in Language-Based Area Studies Post-Graduate Conference, University of Manchester, UK.
  • 2013 – China’s Smart Application of National Power: An Example of China’s Confucius Institute in Africa. In: The 22nd Annual Columbia Graduate Student Conference on East Asia, Columbia University, USA.
  • 2013 – Confucius Institute in the Discourse of Power in International Relations. In: The Rising Powers in the New Global Political Economy Conference, University of Nottingham, UK.

Research interests

My research interests include International Education and Development, International Relations, International Language and Culture Promotion Organisations (especially China’s Confucius Institute), China-Africa Relations, Intercultural Studies, China’s Foreign Policy.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Leeds
  • MA, University of Leeds
  • BA, SNNU

Professional memberships

  • British Association for Chinese Studies
  • White Rose East Asian Centre (WREAC)
  • National Institute of Chinese Studies (NICS)
  • European Association for Chinese Studies

Research groups and institutes

  • East Asian Studies