Karl Yan received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto. Karl’s research sits at the intersection of international and comparative political economy with a particular focus on railway development and the transformation of China. Karl’s current research looks at China’s post-1949 industrial restructuring and railway modernization and the 'going global' of the sector. 


International Relations

International Political Economy

Hegemony, Hegemonic Stability and Transition

Economic Statecraft

Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian Diplomacy

Global Infrastructure Finance


Comparative Politics

Comparative Political Economy

Industrial Policy

State-Business Relations

Chinese Politics and Political History

Railway Development and Innovation


Peer-Reviewed Articles

1. “China’s Zero-COVID Policy and Psychological Distress: A Spatial Quasi-Experimental Design,” Journal of Social Policy (with Shan Jiang, Lily Xia, Tianye Jin, Anran Dai, Chudie Gu and Angran Li), September 2023, epub ahead of print.

2. “Market Creating States: Rethinking China’s High-Speed Rail Development,” Review of International Political Economy, vol. 30, no. 4, 2023, pp. 1220-1237.

3. “Navigating between China and Japan: Indonesia and Economic Hedging,” The Pacific Review, vol. 36, no. 4, 2023, pp. 755-783.

4.  “Rethinking China’s Quest for Railway Standardization: Competition and Complementation,” Journal of Chinese Governance, vol. 7, no. 1, 2022, pp. 111-136.

5. “The Railroad Economic Belt: Grand Strategy, Economic Statecraft, and a New Type of International Relations,” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 23, no. 2, 2021, pp. 262-276.

6. “Strategic Groups and Local Railway Development in China,” Asian Education and Development Studies, vol. 20, no. 6, 2020, pp. 363-374.

7. “Creating Space for China's Rise: Reshaping the Bretton Woods System,” Fudan International Relations Review, no. 13, 2013, pp. 182-201 (with Gregory Chin, in Chinese).


Book Chapters

  1. 1. Concentrating Powers to Accomplish Big Things: China’s Post-WTO Railway Modernization, in Security, Development and Sustainability in Asia, Volume II: Geoeconomics, Innovation, and Development, edited by Zhiqun Zhu, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2022, pp. 195-212.

  2. 2. Can China Link the Belt and Road Initiative via Rail? In New Perspectives on China’s Relations with the World: National, Transnational, and International, edited by Daniel Johanson, Jie Li, and Tsunghan Wu. Bristol, UK: E-International Relations Publishing, 2019, pp.87-103.

3. From Within: Improving Canadians’ attitudes towards China (with Lotus Ruan). In Moving Forward: 45 Years of Canada-China Relation, edited by Asif Farooq and Scott McKnight. Toronto: Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, 2016, pp.102-111.


Book Reviews

1. Localized Bargaining: The Political Economy of China’s High-Speed Railway Program, By Xiao Ma, in Journal of Contemporary Asiavol. 53, no. 4, 2023, pp. 746-748.

2. Why Nations Rise: Narratives and the Path to Great Power, By Manjari Chatterjee Miller, in Journal of Chinese Political Science, vol. 27, 2022, pp. 423-425. 

3. Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia, By David M. Lampton, Selina Ho and Cheng-Chwee Kuik, in The China Quarterly, vol. 248, no. 1, 2021, pp. 1241-1242.