YAN Xuetong is a university distinguished professor of Tsinghua University and foreign member of Russia Academy of Science. He is serving as the Dean of The Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University and the Secretary General of the World Peace Forum. He obtained Ph. D from University of California, Berkeley in 1992 and was named as one of world's Top 100 public intellectuals by the American journal Foreign Policy in 2008. He is the founder of IR moral realism and the only Chinese political scientist listed in Most Cited Chinese Researchers by Elsevier during 2014-2019. Some of his books were translated in to English, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Farsi and Albanian.

Main academic views

1. insisting on realist national interest as the starting point

The Analysis of China's National Interests published in 1997 is the first work on China's national interests: it proposes that national interests are interests shared by the ruling class and the ruled class, and are therefore classless, and establishes an analytical framework for judging the priority of national interests by utility analysis, providing a theoretical basis for the transition from ideological principles to national interests principles in China's foreign policy-making.

2. Establishing a theory of moral realism

Drawing on the political determinism perspective in ancient Chinese political thought, this theory takes the type of political leadership of the leading states in the international system as the core variable in explaining the strategic orientation of the leading states, changes in power contrasts, transformation of the international landscape, evolution of international norms and transformation of the international system. The theory uses internal accountability and external credibility as moral criteria and classifies system leaders according to this criterion. It argues that the core of soft power is political power with an operational function rather than cultural power with a resource-based approach. The theory breaks away from the limitations of international relations theory, which is divided into three levels, by linking for the first time three levels of analysis (individual, state and system). The theory argues that since both state morality and international relations theory are universal, moral realism does not belong to the 'Chinese school' and that a 'Chinese school' cannot be formed.

3. Advocating scientific research methods and predictions

Yan Xue Tong believed that both social sciences and natural sciences belonged to the field of science, so the commonality between them lay in their scientific nature, and the essence of scientific nature was that the views were logically sound, testable and could be used for prediction. He has published books such as Practical Methods in International Relations Research, Selected Cases in Practical Methods in International Relations Research, Quantitative Forecasting of Sino-Foreign Relations, and The Inertia of History; he successfully predicted Lee Teng-hui's open policy of Taiwan independence in 1999, Chen Shui-bian's election in 2000, Chen Shui-bian's re-election in 2004 and Tsai Ing-wen's election in 2016; based on the principle of inertia, he predicted that by 2023, China would become By 2023, China will be a superpower, the world will be bipolar with the US and China, the UK will leave the EU, Germany will become the dominant power in Europe, Russia will lose its position as the second military power, Japan will be a regional power, Brazil will become the dominant power in South America, and India and China will grow in power.

Academic Contributions

Organising summer courses on research methods in international relations since 2003 to promote scientific research methods.

Founding The Science of International Politics in 2005 to promote empirical research findings.

Founding The Chinese Journal of International Politics in 2006 to promote the internationalisation of international relations research.

2008 founding the annual conference of the Chinese Academic Community of Political Science and International Relations.

Founded the Teaching Community of Political Science and International Relations in 2018.

Personal Experience

Educational background

Graduated from Heilongjiang University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 1982.

Graduated from the Institute of International Relations with a Master's degree in 1986.

Graduated from the Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, USA, with a PhD in 1992.

Academic awards

1998: Analysis of China's National Interests, 11th China Book Award.

In 1999, "The International Situation and the Taiwan Issue" won the first prize of the Excellent Report of Beijing.

2007 "Analysis of International Relations" course won the title of National Excellence Course.

In 2007, Practical Methods of International Relations Studies (2nd edition) was approved as a national "11th Five-Year Plan" textbook and a recommended textbook for postgraduate students by the Ministry of Education, and in 2008, it was awarded as a "Higher Education Excellence Textbook" in Beijing.

In 2008, "China's Rise in the International Environment" won the first prize of the Beijing Excellent Report.

In 2008, Analysis of International Relations was awarded the "National Excellence Course Textbook" by the Ministry of Education, and in 2011, it was awarded the "Higher Education Excellence Textbook" by Beijing.

In 2014, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power won the second prize of the thirteenth Beijing Outstanding Achievement in Philosophy and Social Science.

From 2014 to 2017, he was listed as one of the most highly cited scholars in Elsevier China for four consecutive times.

2017 Awarded the "Tsinghua University New Centennial Teaching Achievement Award".

Honours and Awards

In 1996, he was awarded the "Excellent Returned Overseas Student Award" by the Ministry of Organization and the Ministry of Labour.

In 2005, he was awarded a special government allowance for higher education by the State Council.

In 2008, he was awarded the title of Teacher Virtues Pioneer in Beijing.

In 2009, he was awarded the Fifth Beijing Higher Education Master Teacher Award.

In 2011, he was awarded the title of Beijing Pioneer in Education as a Pioneer in Teaching and Education.

Awarded the title of Pioneer of Professional Ethics in the National Education System in 2011

Received the Baosteel Outstanding Teacher Special Award in 2011.


Solo book

The Shift of World Power: Political Leadership and Strategic Competition (2015)

The Inertia of History: China and the World in the Next Decade (2013) (Albanian edition INERCIA E HISTORIS?, in Korean as 2023, and in traditional Chinese as The Next Decade: Great Predictions of Global Change)

International Politics and China (2005)

American Hegemony and Chinese Security (2000)

Analysis of China's National Interests (1996)


China's Relations with Neighbouring Middle Powers (2015)

Analysis of International Relations (Second Edition) (2013)

Constructing an International System for the Rule of the World (2012)

Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power (2011)

A Critical Overview of Sino-Foreign Relations 1950-2005: Quantitative Measurements of China's Relations with the Great Powers (2010)

The Thought of the King and the World and its Inspiration (2009)

Quantitative Forecasting of Sino-Foreign Relations (2009)

Analysis of International Relations (2008) (2nd edition 2013, 3rd edition 2017)

The Rise of China and Its Strategy (2005)

Peace and Security in East Asia (2005)

Security Cooperation in East Asia (2004)

Practical Approaches to the Study of International Relations (2001) (second edition 2007)

China and Security in the Asia-Pacific (1999)

An Assessment of the International Environment for the Rise of China (1998)

Translated books

Theories of International Relations in Controversy (Fifth Edition) (2003)


Moral Realism and China's Rise Strategy, China Social Science Press (2018)

Beyond Towing the Light: On Chinese Diplomacy in Version 3.0, Tianjin People's Publishing House (2016)

Selected Cases of Practical Methods in International Relations Studies, People's Publishing House (2010)

What is the Rise of China, Hunan People's Publishing House (2010)

An Introduction to the Classics of International Security Theory, Beijing University Press (2009)

Selected Chinese Interstate Political Thought, Fudan University Press (2008)

The Chinese Scholar's View of the World: International Security, Peace Books Ltd (2006)

The International Situation and the Forecast of Taiwan Issues, Peking University Press (2005)

Address: 304 Mingzhai, Institute of International Relations, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Tel: 62798183 , Fax: 62773173

E-mail: yanxt@tsinghua.edu.cn