Studying at Beijing University during 1983-89 Hongyi Lai witnessed politically the most open and dramatic period in the reform era in China.  After experiencing the Tiananmen Movement in 1989 he went to study at the US, eventually obtaining his MA and PhD in political science at UCLA.  Afterwards, he worked for multiple years at a leading think tank affiliated with National University of Singapore, which is known in Asia and especially in China for its academic and policy research on contemporary China.  He became a senior research fellow there.  In 2007 he joined the newly founded School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS) at University of Nottingham, UK.  The SCCS is arguably the only school at a university in the world that is solely dedicated to contemporary China.  It is the largest programme of China studies in terms of student enrolment in the UK.   His articles were published in academic journals such as Third World Quarterly, China Quarterly, Modern China, The China Journal, Journal of Contemporary China, Eurasian Geography and Economy, and Asia-Pacific Business Review.  His major books include China’s Soft Power and International Relations (Routledge, 2012), The Domestic Sources of China’s Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2010), Asian Energy Security (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Reform and the Non-state Economy in China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), and China into the Hu-Wen Era (World Scientific, 2006).
MA, Political Science, UCLA, USA
PhD, Political Science, UCLA, USA
BA, International Relations, Beijing University, China
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
His research covers China’s governance and China’s domestic and external political economy.  The topics regarding China he has published on include economic reform strategy, central-local relations, regional development, protests, linkage between domestic and foreign policies, foreign policy making, oil diplomacy, soft power, cultural diplomacy, and internationalisation of China’s business.  

His latest work is his book entitled China's Governance Model: Flexibility and Durability of Pragmatic Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2016).  Below is an outline of this book.  As China is posed to become the largest economy in the world in the coming decade the direction in which the Chinese state is heading is a hugely important issue.  This is especially so since the state has masterminded economic reform and has continued to shape the economic trajectory and political course of a rising China.   China scholars and observers, however, disagree in their diagnoses and predictions about the fate of the Party-state in China.  Some have sounded apocalyptical warnings about the collapse or crackup of the Party-state (notably in 2001 and 2015, respectively).  Some others were optimistic about China’s democratization.  Others are talking about the global spread of the so-called China model.

In this book, the author built on his decades-long research and offers one of the most penetrating analyses of the state, nature and possible future of the Party-state in China.  He addresses the following “billion-dollars questions”—What kind of political regime is emerging in China? How has the Party-state evolved in the previous decade? Is it heading toward democratization as some have hoped, or toward immediate meltdown has other have warned? Should we expect political upheavals in China in the coming decades? Can the Party-state break the 73-year-curse on single-Party regimes the former Soviet Union fell prey to?

The author draws on his insights in comparative politics, political economy, China studies, institutional analyses, and importantly, China’s political history.  He carefully paints a broad picture of the Party-state and of the Chinese political model and suggests sensible scenarios of their future.  He offers a rare glimpse at the changes of the institutions most critical to the survival of the Party-state. He analyses the possible life span of the Party-state on the basis of the life span of unified political regimes in China’s past.  He also discusses the implications of Xi Jinping’s current policies especially his political conservatism and anti-corruption drive for the Party-state.  People who are interested in the fate of the upcoming superpower will benefit greatly from reading this well-researched and thought-provoking book.