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Neil Loughlin, PhD student, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Cambodia’s Winning Coalition: State-Party, Coercion and Capital.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and the regime he dominates has outlived any other modern Cambodian political organization despite UN intervention, the introduction of electoral democracy and massive changes in Cambodia’s political economy. This longevity is a puzzle, which this thesis attempts to shed light on by focusing on linked processes of state formation and elite coalition building since 1979, with a particular focus on the coercive institutions of state.

The thesis explores the extent to which the regime today is organized through the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) at the level of its most senior state officials, including military and police officials, subordinated to Hun Sen. This forms their electoral vehicle and the organizational forum for the provision of exclusive private goods to themselves and their supporters. Underpinning the system and protecting it from challengers is the use and threat of use of coercion to counter the electoral and other threats the system generates. It further incorporates a number of wealthy and influential tycoons who, having been created under it, benefit from it through access to state contracts and natural resources in a mutually beneficial economic relationship in which access to these benefits is paid back in terms of financial support to the leadership, business deals and contributions to the state offices and institutions they oversee. These three interlinked “pillars” of state-party; state coercion and capital form the winning coalition essential for leadership survival in Cambodia.

In undertaking this thesis, I aim to contribute to literatures on authoritarian durability, coalitional politics, the role of democratic institutions in authoritarian regimes, the role of violence and coercive institutions in authoritarian contexts and work on political economy and political ecology.


Pär Nyrén, MA student, Stockholm University.

The Emergence of China’s Overseas Military and Security Industry: An Exploration of Economic and Political Causes.

China’s role in the world is being redefined rapidly. Having risen from relative geopolitical and economic insignificance to becoming a diplomatic and industrial powerhouse, China is continuously exploring new areas of engagement with the world. As of recently, this includes privatized military and security provision in countries around the world.

Many governmental and intergovernmental agencies, private enterprises and humanitarian aid organizations rely on private security contractors for protection from militants and attacks by

organized criminal networks. Such private military and security companies (PMSCs) originate in many different countries. China-based PMSCs are latecomers to the industry, with only one existing prior to 2010; today there are at least more than 20 Chinese overseas PMSCs with operations in many dozens of countries around the world and have representative offices in “over 160 countries”. One Chinese company has individually carried out operations in over 30 countries. 

While there had barely existed any prior, what led to the rapid creation and expansion of Chinese overseas PMSCs during 2010-2017?

This research project will primarily build on and contribute to three fields of study. The first and most obvious is to the study of private actors in international security. My ambition is to push forward theory-building on the causes on security privatization that will be applicable in many other contexts. Moreover, the thesis will make empirical contributions to the study of China’s foreign policy as well as the study of China’s state intervention in the private sector. In addition to the academic community, the findings will be of interest for foreign policy practitioners and others interested in new manifestations of China’s rise.