Dr Stephen Noakes

BA(Hons), MA, PhD


Dr Noakes is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations. His research centres primarily on contemporary Chinese politics and foreign policy, and has appeared in journals such China Quarterly, Pacific Affairs, Voluntas, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Problems of Postcommunism, Political Science Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is also the author of The Advocacy Trap: Transnational Activism and State Power in China (Manchester University Press, 2017), a regular commentator on China's role in international affairs, and a frequent advisor to the aid community on governance issues in the PRC. Prior to joining the University of Auckland, he was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and a Visiting Research Scholar at Fudan University’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs in Shanghai. He was NZ-China Fellow at Peking University in 2018, and is the recipient of a Taiwan Foundation grant, which he will take up in July 2019 at National Taiwan University. 

Dr Noakes is currently engaged in a pair of book projects.The first is a cross-national comparative study of China's development assistance in the Pacific Islands. The second (co-authored with Dr Chris Wilson) examines challenges to liberal democracy in the twenty-first century, including the rise and resilience of competitive authoritarian regimes, terrorist/guerrilla insurgencies, and far-right populist movements.

Dr Noakes also offers a range of private consulting services, with particular expertise in human rights and criminal law in China, as well as China's foreign aid programme, and the Belt and Road Initiative. Interested parties should get in touch with him directly.

Research | Current

  • Contemporary Chinese politics (particularly popular resistance and political economy) and foreign policy
  • Democratization and human rights
  • Transnational advocacy/global civil society and politics of foreign aid

Teaching | Current

POLITICS 254 China and the World

POLITICS 701 Research Design in Empirical Political Inquiry

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Noakes is happy to hear from prospective postgraduate students with an interest in contemporary Chinese politics (particularly in the areas of popular resistance and political economy), transnational advocacy, human rights, and democratization, as well as other “big think” questions in comparative and international politics.

PLEASE NOTE: Dr Noakes receives an extraordinarily high volume of enquiries from well-qualified candidates at the PhD and sub-PhD levels. Many hold prestigious scholarships and grants. Current doctoral students are funded by organisations such as the China Scholarship Council, Korea Foundation, NZAid, and others. In addition to an internationally competitive GPA, it is strongly recommended that applicants have a polished statement of interest--with a clear and well-justified research question and which meets a professional standard of writing--prior to applying.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Taiwan Fellowship, 2019.

Visiting Scholar, National Taiwan University, (July-Sept. 2019).

New Zealand-China Fellow, Centre for New Zealand Studies, Peking University, June 2018.

Early Career Teaching Excellence Award, University of Auckland, Faculty of Arts, 2018.

Faculty Research Development Fund New Staff Grant, University of Auckland, 2015-16.


Assistant Dean (Teaching & Learning) - From 1 January 2020

Areas of expertise

Chinese politics and foreign policy, theories of institutional change, transnational mobilization, state-society relations, international democracy promotion.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

PhD Coordinator - Politics and International Relations

Independent Chair - Doctoral Oral Examinations

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Noakes, S., & Burton, C. (2019). Economic Statecraft and the Making of Bilateral Relationships: Canada-China and New Zealand-China Interactions Compared. JOURNAL OF CHINESE POLITICAL SCIENCE, 24 (3), 411-431. 10.1007/s11366-018-09602-x
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46611
  • Noakes, S. (2018). A disappearing act: The evolution of China’s administrative detention system. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 23 (2), 199-216. 10.1007/s11366-016-9433-z
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40481
  • Noakes, S. (2017). The advocacy trap: Transnational activism and state power in a rising China. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. Pages: 208.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39983
  • Burton, C., & Noakes, S. (2016). Forging Free Trade with China: The Maple Leaf and the Silver Fern. Pacific Affairs: an international review of Asia and the Pacific, 89 (4), 839-858. 10.5509/2016894839
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/32292
  • Noakes, S., & Ford, C. (2015). Managing Political Opposition Groups in China: Explaining the Continuing Anti-Falun Gong Campaign. The China Quarterly, 223, 658-679. 10.1017/S0305741015000788
  • Noakes, S. (2014). Civil Society and Social Welfare After the Third Plenum. In P. Harris (Ed.) China at the Crossroads : what the third plenum means for China, New Zealand and the world (pp. 72-76). Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University Press.
  • Noakes, S. (2014). The Role of Political Science in China: Intellectuals and Authoritarian Resilience. POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, 129 (2), 239-260. 10.1002/polq.12179
  • Noakes, S. (2014). "Kill fewer, kill carefully": State pragmatism, political legitimacy, and the death penalty in China. Problems of Post-Communism, 61 (3), 18-30. 10.2753/PPC1075-8216610302


Contact details

Alternative contact

Mobile: 0210734706

Office hours

Thursdays, 12-2pm.

Primary office location

HSB - EAST - Bldg 201E
Level 5, Room 514
New Zealand

Social links

Web links