China Focus Spotlight: Jack Zhang

Three weeks ago, China Hands magazine announced their “25 under 25 in US-China Relations” list. We are proud to announce that Jiakun “Jack” Zhang, a second-year PhD student in the UCSD Political Science department and Senior Advisor to China Focus, earned a spot on this prestigious list.

I first met Jack (the middle member of the article photo) at the 21st Century China co-sponsored conference on China’s Emergence in International Finance held in Shanghai this past July. We both spent the remainder of our summers in Beijing, where we got to know each other within the capital city’s emerging craft breweries.

Simply put, Jack is super impressive. At the ripe old age of 24, he has launched an East Asian Studies journal and China conference at his alma mater, Duke University, worked as a China Analyst at the Eurasia Group, conducted research as a visiting scholar at Peking University, and presented at various political science conferences. But, beyond these resume builders, here are two facets of Jack that have really struck me:

  1. His passion for academia. Seriously, he loves it – you can tell as soon as he starts talking. I asked him why he chose such an intense career path at an early age. His response was essentially: because I know this is what I want to do, so why wait? At a time when millennials are receiving intense criticism for our lack of purpose and motivation, Jack is a living example of someone working incredibly hard now to reap professorial benefits later. It’s fantastic.
  2. His vision. It’s no secret that, like our subject country, China Focus faces an enormous challenge ensuring a smooth and effective succession. IR/PS is a professional school, and so students are in and out in two years, which can bode poorly for extracurricular projects. Jack has played a critical role for the project, not only through his savvy social media and promotional knowledge, but also in helping provide a strategic plan that, due to the prolonged nature of PhD programs, he will be able to implement. By coordinating with similar university-level projects, Jack wants to establish a student consortium of blogs and journals. He hopes (as do we at China Focus) that a platform created by and for emerging scholars will provide a niche among the blogosphere of China-related work.

We congratulate Jack on this recognition and look forward to his future research and endeavors! Follow Jack on Twitter @HanFeiTzu!

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Maeve Whelan-Wuest

is the Co-Founder and External Relations Director of China Focus. Originally from Chicago, she received her B.A. in Geography and Chinese from Middlebury College in Vermont. Her research at IR/PS is focused on Northeast Asian security issues, particularly China's role in shaping nonproliferation and nuclear security policies on the Korean peninsula. She is also the President of the China Focus student organization, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Policy Solutions, and Co-Founder and Finance Director of IR/PS Women Going Global.

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