Wei Liang
Office
McCone Building M116
Tel
(831) 647-4142
Email
wliang@middlebury.edu

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

Course Description

Dam projects have long been associated with uneven development, human insecurity, injustice and even indirect and direct forms of inter-region or inter-state conflicts. Almost all Mekong River countries have made ‘damming Mekong’ a policy priority to achieve economic development and secure clean energy.
China now is the largest investor, trading partner, and aid donor in the region and has invested in major infrastructure projects through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across the region. China’s extensive dam-building in Southern China, and its development financing in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, have given it extensive control of the waters of Mekong River states in Southeast Asia that have long depended on the river for agriculture, fisheries, and increasingly for hydropower and energy supply.
After preparation during the fall 2023 semester, our faculty-student research team will travel to Vietnam and Thailand to compare large foreign-financed dam projects that have been completed or currently under construction.
Through a two week field research experience in Vietnam and Thailand, we will guide students to conduct in-person field work, including semi-structured interviews (and potentially surveys) with government officials, think tank experts, environmental NGOs, hydropower companies, and local citizens in Vietnam and Thailand.
In addition to traditional security threats, we will spend ample time exploring the non-traditional security threats that plague the region, including debt sustainability, access to water and electricity as basic human rights, environmental insecurity, and forced relocation of low-income farmers along the Mekong River. 
Students will get to workshop and select the specific research questions inside the following overarching topics of water conflict:
Through extensive field research, students will study selected questions in groups exploring water politics and conflict transformation comparing the two countries, such as how do they secure foreign investment but also balance local environmental and water use concerns to avoid conflict over scarce water resources?
Learning Objectives
To deepen students’ understanding and appreciation of both the policy and development challenges faced by Southeast Asian country policymakers and local citizens, including organized advocates like environmental NGOs and hydropower companies.   
(1) development of knowledge and skills on conflict transformation regarding water conflict
(2) Build familiarity with main theoretical and empirical perspectives on development projects and their social, environmental, economic and political implications in a region so culturally, politically and economically diverse and at the same time strategically important to the United States
(3) Apply field research methods and writing skills
(4) Foster communication skills for diverse audiences, including formal presentations and informal discussions in class, semi-structured interviews with foreign experts and government officials and with culturally and religiously diverse local populations
(5) Understanding and appreciation of cultural sources of individual, community, and national identities, cultural values, and culturally-informed perspectives on and approaches to conflict over public policies addressing environmental challenges and development concerns. 

Terms Taught

Spring 2024 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Course Description

How China is Changing the World

The rise of China over the last four decades is one of the most significant events that shape global market competition, 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. China’s rise exerts an ever-greater influence on international affairs. The country’s government, military, markets, firms, and ideas are reshaping the world. But there is little agreement across the globe about the nature of this newfound influence. Is China an opportunity? Is China a threat? What does China want? How to meet the challenges of ‘China Shocks’ and ‘the dragon in the room’?

Regardless of how you would answer such questions, all types of policy professionals need to be familiar with China and know how to think about its international profile. This course is an amalgamation of dynamic, complex and interactive forces that appear as problems, puzzles or challenges to different people/countries at different times. 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 students with a broad introduction to Contemporary China’s political, economic, and strategic challenges. The discussion begins with the lowest point in Chinese history when the country was rendered as a semi-colony of Western powers and ends with China’s contemporary rise and implications for the world. The questions asked include: In what ways is China rising? How did it happen? How does China’s rise impact the U.S and the global system? The course covers a wide array of topics in primarily three areas: domestic politics, foreign policy challenges 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, 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 the social, environmental and energy challenges China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has imposed on developing countries.

Throughout the semester, students are also trained on research design including both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Collectively, we will develop research topics and proposals, and drafts of initial methodology (e.g., interview questionnaires, surveys, etc). This would serve as an intensive training on research methodology and the development of research instruments to be implemented during our field research trip in Vietnam and Thailand in January 2024. Students who are not planning to join the trip can also benefit from this field research skills training.

This course is a multidisciplinary study of China’s relationships with the world that synthesizes knowledge from international relations, political science, development and economics to provide students with a holistic understanding of China’s rise and what it means for the world. The aim is to span the divide between scholarship and policymaking by using data, theory, primary sources, and secondary texts from various sides of key China debates.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, Fall 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

Indo-Pacific: Security and Development

Indo-Pacific is a dynamic region of great importance by virtue of its population size, economic dynamism, and political and security challenges. The region is characterized by diversity in historical, civilizational, and ethno-cultural backgrounds, political systems, levels of economic development, and foreign relations, as well as global impact, making regional relations very complex and their management very difficult. This course will examine a broad range of foreign policy, trade, and (human) security issues that present both opportunities and challenges to the regional countries and the United States. The United States and China stand at the center of the security and development dynamic in Indo-Pacific. What policy moves they adopt in the region will have a profound regional and global influence. This course aims to help students gain an understanding of the state of security issues and development challenges in Indo-Pacific today. Following a brief discussion of Cold War security structures, history and memory, we will then focus on three current policy areas: security challenges in Indo-Pacific, economic development and regional integration and non-traditional security issues such as energy security, migration and environment. This course will engage a diverse array of approaches including a simulation of South China Sea dispute settlement, encouraging students to explore different levels of analysis and paradigmatic approaches to understanding this critical region in global political economy.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021 - MIIS, Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

Students will choose a focal topic or challenge that is relevant to their degree. Under faculty member’s guidance, students will then implement a suitable plan of activities to shed significant light on this topic. Final products may take many forms including a traditional research paper, a guide or manual for practitioners, a video product, or alternative deliverable that would be of value to a well-defined audience of practitioners. Students must identify a faculty sponsor who has consented to supervise the project in order to enroll in this class. Work can be taken on-campus or in field settings. Credit is variable (4 or 6 units) and depends upon the scope, complexity and rigor of the project.

The B section is 3 credits and is only open to joint IEM/MPA students.

Terms Taught

Summer 2022 - MIIS, Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

Negotiating Global Development Policy

Are economic and social development legitimate concerns of global governance for developing countries? This course identifies the critical issues and challenges of global development policy in a highly interdependent world and formulates policy responses to them. The policy areas that we will study include trade, financial stability, development financing, sustainable development, foreign investment, intellectual property rights, global data governance and climate Change mitigation. This graduate seminar provides a conceptual overview and empirical illustrations of the foundations of, and negotiated changes in, global development policy. The course combines lectures, class discussions, group projects, role-playing negotiation simulations, and student presentations.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021 - MIIS, Fall 2022 - MIIS, Spring 2024 - MIIS

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Course Description

While undertaking an approved professional practicum in their field, students will be responsible for completion of an applied project demonstrating your application of degree program learning goals and the project's connection to your professional community of practice. Practicum is a learning opportunity that enables you to demonstrate, integrate, apply, deepen, and reflect on the core competencies of your degree(s). This course is the culmination of your degree and provides you with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills developed in public policy and administration. Students will propose, design, and implement an applied project for a host organization, client, or research community that covers program-specific thematic and technical competencies. (e.g. learning goals for MPA, IPD and ITED) and apply higher-level reasoning, critical thinking and intercultural competence/JEDI knowledge to analyze findings and develop recommendations. Students in the course will present their project to a professional audience and to the MIIS community. The course involves collaboration with peers, faculty, and industry professionals and critical reflection on interpersonal development, the practicum experience, and the student's professional goals. Students will complete one of the following projects: (1) An applied project benefiting the intern's host organization; (2) a consultancy project for a partner organization; or (3) independent qualitative and/or quantitative research project.

Terms Taught

Summer 2023 - MIIS, Fall 2023 - MIIS, Spring 2024 - MIIS, Fall 2024 - MIIS

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Course Description

Student must obtain a faculty advisor, complete a Directed Study proposal form, obtain signatures, and submit to the Associate Dean of Academic Operations for approval.

Terms Taught

Summer 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

Indo-Pacific: Security and Development

Indo-Pacific is a dynamic region of great importance by virtue of its population size, economic dynamism, and political and security challenges. The region is characterized by diversity in historical, civilizational, and ethno-cultural backgrounds, political systems, levels of economic development, and foreign relations, as well as global impact, making regional relations very complex and their management very difficult. This course will examine a broad range of foreign policy, trade, and (human) security issues that present both opportunities and challenges to the regional countries and the United States. The United States and China stand at the center of the security and development dynamic in Indo-Pacific. What policy moves they adopt in the region will have a profound regional and global influence. This course aims to help students gain an understanding of the state of security issues and development challenges in Indo-Pacific today. Following a brief discussion of Cold War security structures, history and memory, we will then focus on three current policy areas: security challenges in Indo-Pacific, economic development and regional integration and non-traditional security issues such as energy security, migration and environment. This course will engage a diverse array of approaches including a simulation of South China Sea dispute settlement, encouraging students to explore different levels of analysis and paradigmatic approaches to understanding this critical region in global political economy.

Terms Taught

Fall 2024 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

While undertaking an approved professional practicum in their field, students will be responsible for completion of an applied project demonstrating your application of degree program learning goals and the project's connection to your professional community of practice. Practicum is a learning opportunity that enables you to demonstrate, integrate, apply, deepen, and reflect on the core competencies of your degree(s). This course is the culmination of your degree and provides you with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills developed in public policy and administration. Students will propose, design, and implement an applied project for a host organization, client, or research community that covers program-specific thematic and technical competencies. (e.g. learning goals for MPA, IPD and ITED) and apply higher-level reasoning, critical thinking and intercultural competence/JEDI knowledge to analyze findings and develop recommendations. Students in the course will present their project to a professional audience and to the MIIS community. The course involves collaboration with peers, faculty, and industry professionals and critical reflection on interpersonal development, the practicum experience, and the student's professional goals. Students will complete one of the following projects: (1) An applied project benefiting the intern's host organization; (2) a consultancy project for a partner organization; or (3) independent qualitative and/or quantitative research project.

Terms Taught

Summer 2024 - MIIS, Fall 2024 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Student must obtain a faculty advisor, complete a Directed Study proposal form, obtain signatures, and submit to the Associate Dean of Academic Operations for approval.

Terms Taught

Summer 2024 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021 - MIIS, Fall 2022 - MIIS, Fall 2023 - MIIS, Fall 2024 - MIIS

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Course Description

It is often said economics has become more important than ever in today’s international relations, yet we work with much less than full understanding of what goes on when government negotiators bargain over trade, finance, data, labor, state-owned enterprises, services sector, agriculture, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, fisheries subsidy and the rules-making in free trade agreements and investment treaties. The process of trade and economic negotiation shapes the world political economy. This essential process can be better understood and practiced with the role-playing simulations of the ongoing trade and economic negotiations. The purpose of this course is to explore the challenges confronting international trade and economic policies, as well as to consider current negotiations designed to address these circumstances. The approach will be interdisciplinary and will focus on political, economic, and legal considerations.

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 trade and economic 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 practice applying these ideas through in-class role-playing simulations on real-world trade and economic negotiations.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term, Spring 2023 - MIIS, Spring 2024 - 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.

Programs

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.

Publications

Books

  • 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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