Dr Felix Boecking (PhD, BA, FRHistS, FRAS)

Senior Lecturer; Modern Chinese Economic and Political History


I was educated at the Universities of Cambridge (PhD, Oriental Studies (Modern Chinese Economic History), 2008) and Oxford (BA, Oriental Studies (Chinese), 2003).  I also hold a Certificate from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese-American Studies, and have studied abroad at Beijing University and Beijing Languages University (formerly Beijing Language and Culture University). Before coming to Edinburgh in September 2008, I served as a temporary lecturer in Modern East Asian History at Newcastle University from January until June 2008. During the academic year 2010/2011, I was on leave while holding an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and serving as a Visiting Lecturer in the Harvard University History Department. I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) in September 2017, and as a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (FRAS) in January 2018. During the academic year 2018/2019, I was a Fellow in the History and Public Policy Programme and at the Kissinger Institute for China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. 

Useful Links

Responsibilities & affiliations

Vice-Chairman, Universities' China Committee in London, 2014-2016

Undergraduate teaching

  • China's long world war, 1931-1953 (special subject)
  • Tradition and Transformation in China’s Economy, 1842-1949 (honours)
  • Tradition and Transformation in China’s Economy since 1949 (honours)
  • China's Twentieth-Century Revolutions (honours)
  • The Global Economy since 1750 (pre-honours)
  • Global Connections (pre-honours)

Postgraduate teaching

  • Economic and social theory for historical analysis (convener)
  • China's Foreign and Security Policy in Twentieth-Century Perspective.
  • The Introduction of 'Political Economy' into China and Japan, c.1850-1950 (originally co-taught with Dr Christopher Harding). Not currently offered. 

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome supervision enquiries from prospective postgraduate students intending to work on most topics in the economic and political history of twentieth-century China. Please note that I would always encourage you to contact me directly before you submit a formal application.

Past PhD students supervised

I have co-supervised doctoral students working on the following topics:

  • “Sino-British Relations from the Macartney Mission to the Outbreak of the First Opium War”.
  • “The Economic Transformation of Rural Households in Anhui Province in the twentieth Century”.
  • “The Baptist Missionary Society in China, 1937-1952”.
  • “PRC Sovietology, 1970s-1990s”.
  • “A Study of Cultural Change in the People’s Republic of China after 1989: Cinema and Society”.
  • “Chinese Parks, 1900-1949”.
  • “Sino-British Relations, 1941-1946: Planning a Postwar East Asia”.
  • "Enterprise Unionism and Strategies of the Autonomous Labour Movement: a Contemporary History of Taiwanese Trade Unions".

Research summary


  • Asia


  • Diplomatic History
  • Economic History
  • Ideas
  • Imperialism
  • War


  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Research interests

My research interests include China’s political economy in its historical context, the history of economics in the People’s Republic of China and the history of China’s foreign relations.

Watch a short video of Dr Boecking speaking about his research interests - Media Hopper

Current research interests

My first book, entitled “No Great Wall—Trade, Tariffs and Nationalism in Republican China, 1927-1945”, was published by the Harvard University East Asia Center in 2017. I am also working on article- and chapter-length projects on bond prices in Republican China, prices and living standards outside Shanghai, also in Republican China, and land ownership in the Maoist period.

Project activity

My current project, "Economics on the Edge", supported by a Fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, is an intellectual history of economics and economists in the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to the present day. It combines a discussion of key concepts with intellectual and political biographies of Chinese economists, and demonstrates that modern economics did not enter the PRC only in 1978 as a Western import, as many economists have argued, but that Chinese economics are an intellectual tradition in their own right rather than being a local inflection of a global trend. By studying this tradition, this project is also a contribution to the decentering of Western economics. Furthermore, a study of economic ideas is also always a history of the people practising and living these ideas in a complex, diverse, and continually shifting political environment. In a socialist country, being an economist was an inherently risky occupation, given the continually changing political environment—as the boundaries of the politically permissible shifted, so did the definition of a good intellectual citizen.

A previous project, “No Great Wall—Trade, Tariffs and Nationalism in Republican China, 1927-1945”, was supported by an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University during the academic year 2010/2011.

View all 7 publications on Research Explorer