Professor Lynette Ong

Lynette Ong

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Asian Institute



Lynette H. Ong is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, with joint appointment at the Asian Institute and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

Her research interests are authoritarian politics, contentious politics and the political economy of development. She is an expert of China and Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Malaysia.

Written in the late 2000s, her first book, Prosper or Perish: Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China (Cornell University Press, 2012), was one of the first to underscore the unsustainability of the China model and many political-economic issues currently facing China, such as rising debt levels, and over-reliance on banking resources to finance local infrastructure spending.

Her journal publications have appeared or are forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, International Political Science Review, Political Studies, China Quarterly, China Journal, Journal of Contemporary Asia, among others.

Her recent writings are on state control and citizen activism in China, specifically the government’s effort to maintain social stability. For her research on state’s use of third-party agents to coerce citizens, see the forthcoming articles in Perspectives on Politics and China Journal

Her co-authored research forthcoming in Political Studies examines what drives people to protest in an authoritarian country, by drawing upon a nationally representative survey in China.

She is undertaking a large project on protest and land politics in China, as part of the government’s effort to promote urbanization. She is also working on a comparative project on land politics in China and India. For preliminary findings, see the forthcoming article in the Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker and the Economist.  Her opinion pieces have appeared in a range of media outlets, including Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, New Mandala and East Asia Forum. She has been invited to give testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on China’s Banking System and Access to Credit”.

She had been An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. She has received her PhD from the Australian National University.

Her research has been funded by Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Connaught, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, Association of Asian Studies, and International Centre for Tax and Development.

For further information, see her personal webpage:, and her academia webpage:

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