Professor; Program Co-chair, International Trade and Economic Diplomacy

Wei Liang
McCone Building M116
(831) 647-4142

Professor Liang specializes in international trade and development policy, global economic and environmental governance and international negotiation, international political economy of East Asia and Chinese foreign economic policy. Her research and teaching have concentrated on the governance of the national and world economy—how foreign economic policy is made domestically and why governments and international organizations do what do in international economic relations. She has conducted field research in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United states, in order to learn directly from the policy practitioners. Many institutions have invited her to lecture—in the UK, Switzerland, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore as well as the United States. She is a member of International Studies Association, American Political Science Association and former president of Association of Chinese Political Studies (ACPS).

In 2018, Professor Liang was appointed to the Gordon Paul Smith Chair in International Studies at the Middlebury Institute. 
Before joining the Institute faculty, she had teaching and research appointments at Florida International University, San Francisco State University and Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE), UC Berkeley, where she did her postdoctoral research. Liang has been a research fellow and visiting professor at Meiji University, Japan and East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore and School of International Studies (SIS), Peking University in China.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

In spring 2020, we will divide the semester into two parts: literature review and research design. During the first part, we will read and do critical literature review of the current scholarship on topics related to your specific research questions and develop research proposal and outline. Then we will move to social science research design training by working closely with Meta lab to learn skills on conducting field research, i.e. surveys, interviews, data collection and analysis. Right before the departure, we will also hold a session on inter-cultural competence training.

During the study trip ( May 20-June4), we will explore different development experiences in China – discovering the hidden China –beginning with an orientation in Shanghai, and then travel by train to nearby Anhui province. We will visit social enterprises in Shanghai, agribusiness started by Mao’s “sent-down youth” in Anhui, village-government tourism models in the ancient town of Hongcun (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the artists’ commune in Bishan with its international film and music festivals, handicraft schools teaching urban students traditional skills, and farmers using wechat to sell organic vegetables. Through this practicum you will explore how China is developing in often unknown ways, as well as enjoying the beautiful mountains, ancient villages, and bamboo forests of Anhui province.

We will continue to work on analyzing the data we have collected during the practicum trip and completing the final deliverable under the supervision of Prof. Wei Liang and Prof. Yuwei Shi. Students will submit their final deliverable by the end of summer.

Spring 2020 - MIIS

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Frequent negotiations between governments, international organizations, companies, and other nongovernmental actors are central in specifying what globalization and global governance mean for people. But what happens in these negotiations? What determines their outcomes? Could the negotiators do better? This seminar concentrates on this ubiquitous process of international negotiation over economic and other issues and helps students launch original research on this subject. This course is designed to help improve your skill as a negotiator, while you learn more about bargaining theory in the context of global political economy. It offers a conceptual framework to help you diagnose most bargaining situations. It begins simply and adds complications one at a time. You will develop a feel for the process by dissecting what professionals did in historical episodes--economic, environmental, and military-political--and by watching experienced negotiators and mediators on tape. You will practice applying these ideas by negotiating with other students through in-class simulation.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

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Introduction to International Trade Policy and Institutions

This course provides a multidimensional introduction to international trade policy. The course is structured to provide students with a thorough understanding of the political economy of trade and the ever-evolving nature of policy issues that are confronted by those engaged in international trade. Its purpose is to provide students with an understanding of international trade economics, rules, politics and institutions, and the major policy issues facing the global trading system. The course begins with an exploration of the theories of international political economy, the rationales for free trade & protection, the distributional impact of trade, and the challenges presented by deeper international economic integration. The course then considers the World Trade Organization (WTO). It explores negotiation mechanisms and principles, and the rules relating to market access, dispute settlement, fair trade, safeguards and trade-related intellectual property (TRIPs). The final section considers major issues facing the global trading system. These include regional trading arrangements, foreign investment, labor standards, trade and environment and the implication of the current global financial crisis on international trade.

Fall 2019 - MIIS

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How China is Changing the World

The rise of China over the last two decades is one of the most significant events that shape trade and economic development, and geopolitics. Its implications on worldly issues from global and regional peace and security to the sustainability of the environment are profound. The China factor is an amalgamation of dynamic, complex and interactive forces that appear as problems, puzzles or challenges. This course aims to provide an orientation for students to understand those forces, especially those related to the major stakeholders and their evolving relationships, policies and game rules, and collective behaviors. The orientation is grounded in both Chinese historical and cultural legacies and the contexts of China’s state building, modernization and globalization.

This course provides graduates with a broad introduction to Contemporary China’s political, economic, and strategic challenges. The course covers a wide array of topics in primarily three areas: trade, foreign policy and development challenges. More specifically, the topics include Chinese imperial legacies and revolution, contemporary political institutions and policy making processes, the opening of China and its reforms and their resulting challenges, China’s role in global peace and development, its relations with U.S., Russia and the other Asian powers and the other powers of the world powers, and the mainland-Taiwan relation, China’s trade and investment policy before and during the reform era, the Chinese economic regime and policy making process, China’s industrial policy and national standard strategy, and China’s environmental and energy challenges and sustainable development.

Fall 2019 - MIIS

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Areas of Interest

Her teaching and research interest focuses on economic decision-making in China, East Asian regionalism, international trade negotiation, and global economic governance. Liang’s ongoing research includes determinants of China and other emerging economies’ behavior in global economic institutions, especially through trade, investment, and climate change negotiations. Her research has benefited a lot from her teaching, which in turn has informed her research. Her work is motivated by a concern for interest groups and regime-building at both national and international levels, an effort to utilize multiple research methods (including field research, quantitative empirical study, and cross-country comparisons), and a desire to contribute to the global public policy conversation. She has been involved in major research projects in collaboration with scholars from the U.S., China, Japan, and Europe.


Academic Degrees

  • Phd in International Relations, University of Southern California, 2003
  • MA in International Relations, University of Southern California, 1998
  • BA, Peking University, People’s Republic of China, 1995

Professor Liang has been teaching at the Institute since 2007.



  • Co-author of China and East Asia’s Post-Crises Community (2012).
  • Co-editor of China in Global Trading Governance (2013).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Tough Love: US-China Economic Relations between Competition and Interdependence”, in Jean-Marc Blanchard and Simon Shen, ed. US-China Relations: Change and Continuity, Conflict and Cooperation, and Causes and Cures, Routledge, 2015.
  • “China and Japan’s FTA Negotiations” (co-authored with Junji Nakagawa), in Scott Kennedy ed., China and Global Governance: the Dragon’s Learning Curve, Global Institutions Series, Routledge, forthcoming.
  • “Asian Regionalism: A Game Theory Approach to Understand the US and China Competition”, chap. 7 in Xunda Yu and Shunji Cui (eds) Beyond History: Reconciliation, Cooperation and Social Integration in Northeast Asia, Zhejiang University Press, 2015.
  • “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Global and Regional Trade Governance”, in David A. Deese ed. International Political Economy of Trade, Edward Elgar, 2014.
  • US, East Asian FTAs, and China”, (co-authored with Jean-Marc Blanchard) in Jiaxiang Hu and Matthias Vanhullebusch, ed. Regional Cooperation and Free Trade Agreements in Asia, Brill, 2014.
  • “China and Japan’s FTA Strategies and Regional Integration in the Asia- Pacific,” (co-authored with Junji Nakagawa) in Scott Kennedy and Shuaihua Cheng, ed., From Rule Takers to Rule Makers: the Growing Role of Chinese in Global Governance, International Centre for Trade & Sustainable Development in Geneva, September 2012.
  • “The Too “Hard” Sources of China’s Soft Power in Africa: Is Economic Power Sufficient?” Asian Perspective, No.4, 2012.
  • U.S. Antidumping Actions against China: The Impact of China’s Entry into the WTO”, (Coauthored with Ka Zeng), Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 17, Issue 3, August 2010, pp.562-588.
  • “China’s FTA Negotiation in Asia and the Prospect of Asian Integration”, in Baogang Guo, ed., China’s Quiet Rise: Peace through Integration, Lexington Books, May 2011.
  • “Changing Climate? China’s New Interest in Multilateral Climate Change Negotiation,” in Joel Kassiola ed., China’s Environmental Crisis: Domestic and Global Political Impacts and Responses,Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
  • “Primacy of Power: Regulatory Battles for Promoting National Standards in China”, in Ilan Alon ed., China Rules: Globalization and Political Transformation, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • “China: Globalization and the Emergence of a New Status Quo Power?” Asia Perspective, Spring 2008.
  • “New Africa Policy: China’s Quest for Oil and Influence”, in Sujian Guo and Jean-Marc F. Blanchard eds., Harmonious World and China’s New Foreign Policy (Rowman & Littlefield-Lexington, 2008).
  • “U.S.-China Semiconductor Disputes and its impacts on U.S. Semiconductor Industry” and “Two-Level Games: How Domestic Politics Affected China’s Foreign Economic Policy”, in Ka Zeng ed., The Making of China’s Foreign Trade Policy: Implications for the World Trading System, Routledge, 2007.
  • “China’s WTO Accession Negotiation Process and Its Implications,” Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 11, Issue 32, August 2002.

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