Barry Sautman

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Barry Victor Sautman (born 1949) is a professor[1] with the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. A Canadian and American by nationality,[2] he speaks both English and Cantonese.[3][4]

A political scientist and lawyer by training who primarily teaches international law,[5] he has conducted research about ethnic politics and nationalism in China, as well as China–Africa relations,[6] in cooperation with anthropologist Yan Hairong[7] in the latter field. His positions on the Tibet issue are seen as close to those of China.

His opinions and comments as an expert on these subjects have been sought by national and international printed and online media.

Graduate education[edit]

The title of his Ph.D. thesis is Retreat from Revolution. Why Communist Systems Deradicalize.

Work experience[edit]

From 1983 to 1985, he was a law clerk and from 1985 to 1991, an attorney.[8]

From fall 1990 to spring 1991, he was an adjunct assistant professor at California State University, Northridge, teaching courses in US politics.[8]

In 1991-1992, he was a visiting assistant professor in comparative politics at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies, in Nanjing, China. He taught courses in comparative politics; politics, law & society; political development; and US-China relations.[8]

From 1993 to 2000, he was an assistant professor in the Division of Social Science at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, then from 2000 to 2008, an associate professor at the same university.

In 2002-2003, he was also a Visiting Fellow in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.

He taught undergraduate courses in international law; politics, law & society; China-US relations; political development; and comparative politics; and also graduate courses in nationalism, ethnicity, and US hegemony.[8]

Fields of research[edit]

His areas of research have been Communist and post-Communist systems; Chinese politics (especially ethnic politics); the political economic and legal aspects of the Tibet and Xinjiang issues; China-Africa links; the supposed strategic rivalry between the US and China in Africa; and international law (especially human rights).[8][9]


His opinions and comments as an expert on these subjects have been sought by national and international printed and online media (CNN, USA TODAY, The New Yorker, The Manila Times, Digital Journal), the AFP press agency and various web sites.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

He was interviewed by Radio France Internationale[18] and Voice of America News[19] and took part in the BBC Radio 4 program Today.[20]


Australian sinologist Colin Mackerras, an emeritus professor at Griffith University, sees Barry Sautman as "probably the main contributor to Tibet studies in Hong Kong's universities, at least in English." His research focuses on contemporary Tibet and uses history to shed light on it. As a scholar, he is tremendously productive. Although he does not speak Tibetan and is not a specialist of Tibetan culture, he "balances this lack with profound understanding of world history and international law." He views law and political science as his main areas of expertise. His stand on Tibet-related issues is akin to that of China, whose historical and legal claims to Tibet he supports. As this is not a fashionable stand in Western countries, "he has become a controversial figure." On the other hand, "because he is so well-informed and his research is so thorough," he is often asked to put across pro-Chinese positions in venues dealing with Tibet.[2]


On account of his refutation of the claim of a physical and cultural genocide in Tibet, his underlining of the various benefits, rights, and material gains Tibetans have reaped from the region's modernization, and his indictment of what he calls "ethnonationalism" on the part of exile Tibetans,[21] Barry Sautman has drawn criticism from writers supportive of an independent or free Tibet such as Jamyang Norbu[22] and Elliot Sperling.[23]Jamyang Norbu criticizes Sautman for his selective use of dubious facts and figures, writing in academic gobbledygook, and jumping to conclusions without citing evidence.[24][25]

Publication list[edit]

Barry Sautman has published a number of articles and studies in peer-reviewed journals specializing in law: Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal, Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, Texas International Law Journal, Chinese Journal of International Law, Stanford Journal of International Law, Rutgers Race and Law Review; economic and social policies: Pacific Affairs, Problems of Post-Communism; history: Current History; international relations: World Affairs; Asia: The Journal of Asian Studies, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and especially China Information, The China Quarterly, Modern China; Africa: African Studies Review, African and Asian Studies, South African Labour Bulletin.

He co-authored a number of articles with Irene Eng, Baogang He, Yan Hairong, Kenneth King, as well as monographs with Shiu-hing Lo, Ellen Kneehans. He co-edited a collective book with June Teufel Dreyer.

He has also contributed opinion articles to newspapers (the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), The Guardian (UK)).[26]

Journal articles[edit]

  • 1985. The meaning of "Well-Founded Fear of Persecution" in United States Asylum Law and in International Law, Fordham International Law Journal, Vol. 9, Issue 3, pp. 483–539
  • 1987. The Politicized Worker Under the National Labor Relations Act, Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 1, Article 3
  • 1988. The Politicized Worker under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, in Hofstra Labor Law and Employment Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 2, pp. 67–107
  • 1991. Politicization, Hyperpoliticization, and Depoliticization of Chinese Education, in Comparative Education Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 669–689
  • 1992. Sirens of the Strongman: Neo-Authoritarianism in Recent Chinese Political Theory, in The China Quarterly, No 129 (March), pp. 71–102
  • 1994. Anti-Black Racism in Post-Mao China, in The China Quarterly, No 138, June, pp. 413–437
  • 1995. The Devil to Pay - The 1989 Debate and the Intellectual Origins of Yeltsin’s Soft Authoritarianism, in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 131–151
  • 1996. Theories of East Asian Intellectual and Behavioral Superiority and Discourses on "Race Differences", in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp. 519–567
  • 1997. The Tibet Question: Meeting the Bottom Lines, in Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 15–24
  • 1997. Racial Nationalism and China's External Behavior, in World Affairs, Vol. 160, Issue 2, pp. 78–95
  • 1998. Preferential Policies for Ethnic Minorities in China: The Case of Xinjiang, in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (Special Issue: Nationalism and Ethnoregional Identities in China), Vol. 4, Issue 1-2, 1998, pp. 86–118
  • 1998. Affirmative Action, Ethnic Minorities and China’s Universities, in Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, University of Washington, Vol. 7, Issue 1, 1998, pp. 77–86
  • 1999. Ethnic Law and Minority Rights in China: Progress and Constraints, in Law & Policy, Vol. 21, Issue 3, pp. 283–314, July 1999
  • 1999. The Tibet Issue in Post-Summit Sino-American Relations, in Pacific affairs, Vol. 72, Issue 1, SPR, p. 7+
  • 2000. Is Xinjiang an Internal Colony?, in Inner Asia, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pp. 239–271
  • 2000. Association, Federation and 'Genuine' Autonomy: the Dalai Lama's Proposals and Tibet Independence, in China Information, Vol. 14, pp. 31–91
  • 2001. Peking Man and the Politics of Paleoanthropological Nationalism in China, in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 60, Issue 1, February, pp. 95–124
  • 2001. Is Tibet China’s Colony? The Claim of Demographic Catastrophe, in Columbia Journal of Asian Law, Vol. 15, Issue 1 (Fall), pp. 81–131
  • 2001. Tibet: Myths and Realities, in Current History. A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs, September 2001, Vol. 100, Issue 647, pp. 278–283
  • 2001 (with Irene Eng), Tibet: Development for Whom?, in China Information: A Journal on Contemporary China Studies, Vol. 15, Issue 2, pp. 20–75
  • 2002. Resolving the Tibet Question: Problems and Prospects, in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 11, No. 30 (February), pp. 77–107
  • 2003. "Cultural Genocide" and Tibet, in Texas International Law Journal, Vol. 38, Issue 2, pp. 173–246
  • 2005. China's Vulnerability to Ethnic Minority Separatism in Tibet, in Asian Affairs: an American Review, Vol. 31, Issue 2, pp. 87–118
  • 2006. Colonialism, Genocide and Tibet, in Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 7, Issue 3, pp. 243–265
  • 2007. (with Yan Hairong), Friends and Interests: China's Distinctive Links with Africa, in African Studies Review, vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 75–114
  • 2008. (with Yan Hairong), The Forest for the Trees: Trade, Investment, Power and the China-in-Africa Discourse[permanent dead link], in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 81, Issue 1, 28 p. (aussi, sous le titre Trade, investment, power and the China-in-Africa discourse, in Pambazuka News, Issue 464, 2010-01-07)
  • 2008. (with Yan Hairong), Fu Manchu in Africa: the Distorted Portrayal of China's Presence in the Continent, in South African Labour Bulletin, November, Vol. 31, Issue 5, pp. 34–38
  • 2008. Barry Sautman's response to Jamyang Norbu's opinion piece 'Running-Dog Propagandists',, August 4
  • 2008. Protests in Tibet and Separatism. The Olympics and Beyond (Expanded version), in China Left Review, Issue 1
  • 2008. (with Kenneth King) Steven Spielberg, China and Darfur, in China Left Review, Issue 1
  • 2009. (with Yan Hairong), African Perspectives on China-Africa Links, in China Quarterly, No 199 (September), pp. 729–760
  • 2010. "Vegetarian Between Meals". The Dalai Lama, War and Violence, in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Vol. 18, Issue 1, pp. 89–143
  • 2010. Tibet’s Putative Statehood and International Law, in Chinese Journal of International Law, Vol. 9, Issue 1, pp. 127–142
  • 2010 (with Yan Hairong) Chinese Farms in Zambia: From Socialist to ‘Agro-Imperialist’ Engagement?, in African and Asian Studies, Vol. 9, pp. 307–333
  • 2010 (with Yan Hairong) Demonising China: Pundits Get its Role in Africa Wrong, ON LINE opinion, 15 February 2010
  • 2010. Scaling Back Minority Rights? The Debate About China's Ethnic Policies, in Stanford Journal of International Law, Vol. 46, Issue 1, pp. 51–120
  • 2011. (with Yan Hairong) Gilded Outside, Shoddy Within : The Human Rights Watch report on Chinese copper mining in Zambia, in The Asia-Pacific Journal : Japan Focus, Vol. 9, Issue 52, No 1, December 26 (translation into French under the title "Néocolonialisme ou racisme : critiques d'une entreprise minière", in Société de stratégie, May 2012)
  • 2011. (with Yan Hairong) The ‘Right Dissident’: Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Peace Prize, in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 581–613
  • 2011. The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, in China Journal, Vol. 66, July, pp. 221–222
  • 2012. Tibet’s Suicidal Politics, in East Asia Forum, March 21
  • 2012. Paved with Good Intentions: Proposals to Curb Minority Rights and their Consequences for China, in Modern China, Vol. 38, Issue 1, pp. 10–39
  • 2012. (with Yan Hairong) Chasing Ghosts: Rumors and Representations of the Export of Chinese Prison Labour to Developing Countries, in China Quarterly, No 210 (June), pp. 398–418 ( Abridged Chinese version, 2013 社会观察 ; full Chinese version in 李安山 & 刘海方, 中国非洲研究评论 2012 (北京: 社科文献出版社, 2013)
  • 2013. (with Yan Hairong) ‘The Beginning of a World Empire’?: Contesting the Discourse of Chinese Copper Mining in Zambia, in Modern China, March
  • 2013. Ethnic Policies: China vs US and India, The Adelaide Review, September 10
  • 2013. The Chinese Defilement Case: Racial Profiling in an African 'Model of Democracy', in Rutgers Race and the Law Review, Vol. 14, No 1, pp.  87–134
  • 2014. Self-Representation and Ethnic Minority Rights in China, in Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 15, Issue 2, pp. 174–196

Book chapters[edit]

  • 1995. Theories of East Asian Intellectual and Behavioral Superiority and the "Clash of Civilizations", in Racial Identities in East Asia, Barry Sautman Ed., Hong Kong: Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, pp. 58–121
  • 1997. Myths of Descent, Racial Nationalism and Ethnic Minorities in the People's Republic of China, in Frank Dikötter (ed.), The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, pp. 75–95, ISBN 962-209-443-0.
  • 1999. Year of the Yak: the Tibet Question in Contemporary US-China Relations, in The Outlook for U.S.-China Relations Following the 1997-1998 Summits: Chinese and American Perspectives on Security, Trade, and Cultural Exchange, Edited by Peter H. Koehn, Joseph Y.S. Cheng, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 403 p., pp. 181–205
  • 1999. Expanding Access to Higher Education for China's National Minorities: Policies of Preferential Admission, in China's National Minority Education Culture, Schooling, and Development, Edited by Gerard A. Postiglione, Falmer Press, New York, pp. 173–210
  • 2000. Legal Reforms and Minority Rights in China, in Handbook of Global Legal Policy (Stuart Nagel ed.), CRC Press, 560 p., pp. 71–102
  • 2004. Hong Kong as a Semi-Ethnocracy: 'Race,' Migration, and Citizenship in a Globalized Region, in Agnes Ku & Pun Ngai (eds.), Remaking Citizenship in Hong Kong: Community, Nation, and the Global City, Routledge, New York, pp. 115–138
  • 2005-2006. with Baogang He), The Politics of the Dalai Lama's New Initiative for Autonomy, in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 78, Issue 4 (Winter 2005-2006), pp. 601–629 - aussi sous le titre Dalai Lama's New Initiative for Autonomy, in Paula Banerjee and Samir Kumar Das (eds.), Autonomy: Beyond Kant and Hermeneutics, Anthem Press, London, 2007, pp. 235–260.
  • 2006. (with Yan Hairong), Honour and Shame? China's Africa Ties in Comparative Perspectives, in Leni Wild and David Mepham (eds.), The New Sinosphere: China in Africa, Institute of Public Policy Research, London, pp. 54–61
  • 2006. Introduction: Cultural Genocide in International Context and Tibet and the (Mis-) Representation of Cultural Genocide, in Barry Sautman (ed.), Cultural Genocide and Asian State Peripheries, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 279 p., pp. 1–37 and 165-279, ISBN 9781403975744
  • 2006. Introduction: the Tibet Question in Contemporary Perspective (with Yan Hairong) and 'Demographic Annihilation' and Tibet, in Barry Sautman & June Teufel Dreyer (eds.), Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development and Society in a Disputed Region, ME Sharpe, Armonk, pp. 3–22, pp. 230–257, ISBN 0765613549
  • 2008. (avec Yan Hairong), in Dorothy Grace Guerrero, Firoze Manji (eds.), China's New Role in Africa and the South: A Search for a New Perspective, Fahamu, Oxford, 2008, ISBN 9781906387266
  • 2012. Ethnicity in China: Politics, Policies and Consequences, in Handbook of Contemporary China, Edited by William S Tay, Alvin Y. So, World Scientific, New Jersey ; Hong Kong

Op-ed pieces[edit]


  • 1995. Racial Identities in East Asia, edited by Barry Sautman, Hong Kong: Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (proceedings of the international conference held in Hong-Kong on November 25 and 26, 1994)
  • 2006. Cultural Genocide and Asian State Peripheries, edited by Barry Sautman, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 9781403975744
  • 2006. Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development and Society in a Disputed Region, edited by Barry Sautman & June Teufel Dreyer, ME Sharpe, Armonk


Other academic services[edit]

  • Founder of the journal Asian Ethnicity and member of its Board of Editors
  • Author of reviews in China Quarterly, China Journal, Pacific Affairs, Asian Ethnicity, East Asia


In 2013, professor Sautman was the speaker at the Adelaide Confucius Institute's annual Public Lecture.[27]

Reviews of the author's contributions[edit]

  • In China Journal, July 2006, Issue 56, p. 213, review by Mark Stevenson of Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region
  • In China Review International, Spring 2007, Vol. 14, Issue 1, p. 203, review by Ronald Schwartz of Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region


  1. ^ Electronic newsletter published online by the Office of the Executive Vice-President & Provost for the announcement of faculty substantiations and promotions, academic administrative appointments effective 1 July 2014, Fall Issue, 2014: "Promotion. The following faculty members have been promoted to Professor. School of Humanities and Social Science: Barry V SAUTMAN, SOSC - Michelle O Y YIK, SOSC."
  2. ^ a b Colin Mackerras, Tibet studies in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, in Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 12, Issue 3, 2011, Special Issue: Tibetan Studies in Comparative Perspective, pp. 265-283, downloadable from the website of the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, 37 p., see pp. 14-17.
  3. ^ The author's background on the site of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: Barry Sautman is associate professor, Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and technology.
  4. ^ On January 31, 2013, Professor Sautman was among the awardees at the fourth Long Service Award Presentation Ceremony honoring faculty and staff members who have served the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for 20 years. See Long Service Award for Prof. Sautman Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ The author's background on the CHINA-AFRICA Knowledge Project site: "Barry Sautman is a political scientist (PhD Columbia University) and lawyer (JD UCLA, LLM NYU) who primarily teaches international law."
  6. ^ The author's background on the site of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, op. cit.: "His research concerns ethnic politics and nationalism in China, as well as China–Africa relations."
  7. ^ The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Vol 9, Issue 52, No 1, December 26, 2011: "Yan Hairong teaches in Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is the author of New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development and Women Workers in China (Duke University Press, 2008)."
  8. ^ a b c d e f Curriculum Vitae (25 October 2008)
  9. ^ The author's background on the CHINA-AFRICA Knowledge Project site.
  10. ^ Prof. Barry V. Sautman, Political Scientist.
  11. ^ David Finnan, Dozens of Chinese workers captured by Sudanese rebels, rfienglish, 30 January 2012.
  12. ^ Zach Coleman, NSA leaker: I'll 'stay and fight' in Hong Kong, USA TODAY, June 13, 2013.
  13. ^ Shannon Van Sant, China Establishing New Silk Roads Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, Voice of America, July 08, 2014.
  14. ^ Sea dispute part of China’s larger plan, The Manila Times (AFP), May 10, 2014.
  15. ^ Uighur scholar's life sentence in China will chill dissent: experts Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, 7 News (AFP), September 25, 2014.
  16. ^ Evan Osnos, The Promised Land. Guangzhou's Canaan market and the rise of an African merchant class, The New Yorker, February 9, 2009 issue.
  17. ^ Gabrielle Jaffe, Tinted prejudice in China , CNN, July 24, 2012.
  18. ^ Interview of Barry Sautman about the capture of chinese workers by Sudanese rebels on RFI in English in January 2012.
  19. ^ Rebecca Valli, Q&A: What is Driving Violent Attacks in China’s Xinjiang?, VOANews, May 02, 2014.
  20. ^ Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Tibet complaint against Radio 4's Today upheld by BBC Trust,, May 29, 2009.
  21. ^ Dina Duck, Tibet under Chinese Rule, Human Rights and Human Welfare, pp. 17-28, more specially p. 25.
  22. ^ Jamyang Norbu, A Losar gift for rangzen activists Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,, February 26, 2009.
  23. ^ Elliot Sperling, The History Boy, Rangzen Alliance, June 24, 2010.
  24. ^ Jamyang Norbu. Running-Dog Propagandists. 2008-07-13.
  25. ^ Vanessa Frangville. Tibet in Debate: Narrative Construction and Misrepresentations in Seven Years in Tibet and Red River Valley. Transtext(e)s Transcultures. 2009(5), document 6, note 4
  26. ^ Barry Sautman's background and bibliography on the site of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
  27. ^ Bethany Nolan, 2013 Annual Lecture: Does China Have Better Ethnic Policies than USA and India?, Confucius Institute News, 27 September 2013.

External links[edit]