Photo of Cheng Xu, taken by Aloysius Wong.

Cheng Xu

Fellow, Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice (2018-2019)


I am a second year PhD student in the department of Political Science, specializing in the fields of International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Development Studies. I was born in the People’s Republic of China. My family moved to Canada when I was nine years old to escape political persecution. As a result of that experience, I spent close to ten years serving in the Canadian Armed Forces as an Airborne Infantry Officer. I served on one operational deployment in 2014 during Operation Reassurance to Eastern and Central Europe. I retired from the military at the rank of Captain in 2017 in order to pursue my PhD studies. In addition to being a PCJ Fellow, I am also a Non-Resident Junior Fellow at Massey College, as well as an ambassador for the International Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Outside of the academy, I am a national level Olympic Weightlifter, and I also coach in the same sport.

Research Interests:

My research interests revolve broadly around issues of civil war and peacebuilding. Specifically, I am interested in examining asymmetric conflicts and unconventional warfare such as insurgencies, counterinsurgencies, and rebel movements. The conceptual questions within which I want to situate my research are those having to do with the root causes of conflict, factors that impact their duration and intensity, as well as mechanisms to facilitate durable peace. My doctoral thesis will examine the insurgent movements in the Philippines, and ask the question, why do some insurgent movements fragment while others remain united? Additionally, I am also interested in the issues of genocide, mass violence, and human rights.


  • Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in English Literature from the Royal Military College of Canada
  • Masters of Arts  in Global Development Studies from Queen’s University

Select Publications

  • Scholarly Article:
    Xu, Cheng. (2018). “‘Draining the Sea’: Counterinsurgency as an Instrument of Genocide.” Genocide Studies International. 12(1): 6-25.
  • Conference Paper:
    Xu, Cheng. (2018). “This Land is My Land”: Islam, Land, Identity, and (Counter)Insurgency in Lowland Philippines.” Paper presented at the conference for Political Stability in Deeply Divided Societies, Center for Politics in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Middle East, University College of London, United Kingdom.


  • 2012-2013: DEVS101 Theories and Issues of Development
  • 2017-2018: POL101 Democracy, Dictatorships, War and Peace
  • 2018-2019: POL215 Politics and Transformations of the Asia-Pacific

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