Associate Professor 副教授





(852) 3943 4425

(852) 2994 2505

Room 532
Faculty of Law
5/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Sha Tin, NT, Hong Kong SAR

Ryan Mitchell’s research focuses on the intersections of international law, Chinese law and legal history, comparative public law, and political and legal theory. His scholarship has appeared in leading academic journals including the Harvard International Law Journal, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, the Modern Law Review, and the Georgetown Journal of International Law. His analysis of issues relating to international legal order and/or Chinese law and politics has also been featured in publications including Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Responsible Statecraft, The Diplomat, and other venues. He has provided commentary for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, NPR, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and other global news media.

In much of his work, Professor Mitchell investigates the role of sovereignty in world order. He has particularly focused on the historical and comparative study of ideas and practices of state authority and responsibility, as reflected in different sociocultural contexts and conceptual trajectories in China, the United States, and elsewhere. His monograph Recentering the World: China and the Transformation of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2022), is a detailed historical account of Chinese discourse on international law based on extensive work with diplomatic and other archival sources in several languages. His current projects involve the study of geoeconomic rivalry and competitive rulemaking as the driving factors in the creation of international legal structures, including those relating to peace and security, human rights, economic sanctions, and other areas of global governance.

Professor Mitchell holds a B.A. from the New School, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. in Law from Yale University, where he was also an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Fellow. While pursuing his doctoral studies at Yale, he also received the Archaia Qualification in the Study of Ancient and Premodern Cultures and Societies. His legal practice experience includes Alien Tort Statute human rights litigation in U.S. federal courts, work on immigration and asylum issues, and reports submitted to international human rights bodies. Originally from Los Angeles, he is a member of the State Bar of California.


  • PhD (Yale)
  • Archaia Qualification in the Study of Ancient and Premodern Cultures and Societies (Yale)
  • JD (Harvard)
  • BA (New School)
  • Admitted to Practice, State Bar of California


  • Legal history and theory
  • Public international law
  • Chinese law
  • Human rights
  • Comparative public law
  • Global governance



  • Recentering the World: China and the Transformation of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Academic Journal Articles

  • “Neutral Rights and Collective Countermeasures for Erga Omnes Violations,” International & Comparative Law Quarterly (peer reviewed) (2023) (with Chin Leng Lim)
  • “The Emerging Chinese Model of Statist Human Rights,” 37 American University International Law Review 3, 617 (2023)
  • “The Human Community of Fate: A Conceptual History of China’s Ordoglobal Idea,” 13 Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 2 (Summer 2022)
  • “Monroe’s Shadow: League of Nations Covenant Article 21 and the Space of Asia in International Legal Order,” TWAIL Review (2021)
  • “China’s Participation in the Second Hague Conference and the Concept of Equal Sovereignty in International Law,” Asian Journal of International Law (2021)
  • “Chinese Receptions of Carl Schmitt Since 1929,” 8 Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs 1 (2020)
  • “A ‘Guardian Controversy’ Over Hong Kong’s Basic Law?,” Hong Kong Law Journal (2020)
  • “International Law as Project or System?,” 51 Georgetown International Law Journal 3 (2020)
  • “Jean Bodin’s Law of Nations,” 21 Political Theology 6 (2020)
  • “Hegemony in a Multipolar World Order: Global Constitutionalism and the Großraum,” Jus Cogens (2019)
  • “China and the Political Myth of ‘Brainwashing,’” Made in China Journal, July-September 2019 (2019)
  • “International Law as a Coercive Order: Hans Kelsen and the Transformations of Sanction,” 29 Indiana International & Comparative Law Review 2 (2019)
  • “Book Review: Is International Law International?,” 81 Modern Law Review 3 (2018)
  • “Sovereignty and Normative Conflict: Reframing International Legal Realism as a Theory of Uncertainty,” 58 Harvard International Law Journal 2 (2018)
  • “Manchukuo’s Contested Sovereignty: Legal Activism, Rights Consciousness, and Civil Resistance in a ‘Puppet State,’” 3 Asian Journal of Law and Society 2 (2016)
  • “An International Commission of Inquiry for the South China Sea?: Defining the Law of Sovereignty to Determine the Chance for Peace,” 49 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 749 (2016)
  • “Redefining Pragmatic Engagement: The ‘New Model’ of U.S.-China Relations and the Opportunity of Shared Consequences,” 23 International Affairs Review 3 (2015)
  • “Surveillance State 2.0: Beta-Tested in China, Coming Soon to…?,” Yale Journal of Law & Technology Online (2013) (with Can Sun)

Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • “Constitutional Projects in Modern Chinese History” in Handbook on the Constitutional Law of Greater China (Routledge, 2022)
  • “The Making of China’s 1982 Constitution” in Asian Constitutional Law, Volume 1: Constitution Making (Hart Publishing, forthcoming 2023)
  • “Theories of Sovereignty in the Origins and Implementation of Hong Kong’s National Security Law” in The National Security Law of Hong Kong: Restoration and Transformation (Hong Kong University Press, 2022)
  • “‘State Form’ in the Theory and Practice of Constitutional Change in Modern China” in The Law and Politics of Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments in Asia (Routledge, 2021)
  • “Myanmar and the Hegemonic Discourse of International Criminal Law” in Colonial Wrongs, Double Standards, and Access to International Law (Brussels: Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2020)
  • “The Chinese Interpretation of Sovereignty and Its Human Rights Implications” in Shifting Power and Human Rights – China (Amnesty International Netherlands, 2020)

Books Edited

  • Handbook on the Constitutional Law of Greater China (co-editor with Bui Ngoc Son and Stuart Hargreaves) (Routledge, 2022)

Book Reviews

  • “Book Review: Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World,” The Review of Politics (2021)
  • “Book Review: Is International Law International?,” 81 Modern Law Review 3 (2018)
  • “Book Review: The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy,” The Marx & Philosophy Review of Books (November 2015)
  • “Book Review: Bloody Harvest,” 24 Harvard Human Rights Journal 246 (2011)

Academic Blogs and Popular Publications

  • “Recentering the World: An Interview with Ryan Martinez Mitchell: Part II,” Journal of the History of Ideas Blog, April 9, 2023
  • “Recentering the World: An Interview with Ryan Martinez Mitchell: Part I,” Journal of the History of Ideas Blog, April 5, 2023
  • “What the US and its allies get wrong about Chinese neutrality,” Responsible Statecraft, April 4, 2023
  • “Why pressuring neutral states to sanction Russia could backfire,” Responsible Statecraft, April 9, 2022
  • “How Global Capitalism Became Humanity’s ‘Fate’ in Xi Jinping’s New Era,” Global China Pulse, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2022)
  • “Global Capitalism, International Law, and Chinese Sovereignty,” Legal Form, January 31, 2022
  • “Schmitt in Beijing,” Critical Legal Thinking, October 18, 2021
  • “Towards an ‘Asian Faction’ in International Law?: On Third Worldism and Contingent Eurocentrism Since the Second Hague Conference of 1907,” Harvard International Law Journal Online (2021)
  • “The Korean War and the Ontology of Intervention: Chen Tiqiang’s Who Is Undermining International Law?,” Legal Form, March 5, 2019
  • “With China on the Moon,” ChinaFile Conversation, January 11, 2019
  • “A Hegelian Logic Underlying Contemporary Conservative Populisms?,” Critical Legal Thinking, January 2, 2019
  • “The Realist Case for a Korean Peace Treaty,” The National Interest, August 8, 2018
  • “Was the UN Human Rights Council Wrong to Back China’s ‘Shared Future’ Resolution?,” EJIL: Talk!, April 10, 2018
  • “China’s Crown Theorist,” Foreign Affairs, December 4, 2017
  • “Why Taiwan and China Agree on South China Sea Sovereignty,” The Diplomat, March 29, 2016
  • “Lessons from the Xi Jinping Book Club,” Los Angeles Review of Books, January 16, 2016
  • “Is There a China Model?”, ChinaFile Conversation, October 19, 2015
  • “Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’”, The Huffington Post, August 20, 2015
  • “Should the U.S. Extradite Chinese Wanted by Beijing?”, ChinaFile Conversation, August 5, 2015


  • Principal Investigator, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law Direct Grant 2023, “China in the Realist Imagination,” 1/5/2023-30/4/2024
  • Principal Investigator, General Research Fund 2019/20, “The Development and Influence of Chinese Theories of Sovereignty,” 01/01/2020-30/6/2023
  • Principal Investigator, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law Direct Grant 2019, “Post-Imperial Dialogues: Evaluating Connections Between Early 20th Century German Public Law Theory and Chinese Legal Discourse,” 15/6/2019-14/6/2020


  • Award for “Best Research in Progress on East Asian Law and Society,” American Association of Law Schools, Section on East Asian Law and Society, January 2016
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Fellowship 2014-2017
  • Harvard Law School Kaufman Public Interest Fellowship 2012-13
  • Cravath International Fellowship 2011


  • “The Making of China’s 1982 Constitution.” (April 2022). Presented at Asian Comparative Constitutional Law Workshop. Oxford University and Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • “Domestic Law as Critique of International Law.” (March 2022). Presented at the workshop for the “Research Handbook on International Law and Domestic Legal Systems.” Part of KFG project “International Rule of Law: Rise or Decline?”; Humboldt University and Freie Universität Berlin.
  • “What is World History?” (January 2022). Invited presentation at World History Roundtable, CUHK History Department. Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • “China and the Law of War as a Post-Cold War Project.” (July 2021). Presented at the Workshop on State Socialism and International Law, National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Bucharest, Romania, Erfurt University, and Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development, and Innovation Funding, European Union.
  • “Constitutional Projects in Modern Chinese History.” (July 2021). Presented at the Conference on Asian Legal History, Centre for Comparative and Transnational Law, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Hue University, Vietnam.
  • “Theories of Sovereignty in the Origins and Implementation of Hong Kong’s National Security Law.” (June 2021). Presented at Conference on Hong Kong Under China’s National Security Law. University of Hong Kong.
  • “A Chinese Alternative to Sovereignty?: Revisiting the Qing Concept of ‘Stateliness.’” (March 2021). Invited lecture presented at the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence, University of Sydney.
  • “The Return of Reprisals?: The Fall and (Potential) Rise of Peacetime Coercion.” (October 2020). Presented at the ASIL Research Forum: Structure of International Law, 2020 ASIL Midyear Meeting.
  • “Carl Schmitt and the Development of Conservative State Theory in China.” (October 2020). Presented at Greater China Legal History Seminar, Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.
  • “International Law as Project or System?” Presented at the Law and Society Association Annual Conference 2020.
  • “International Law as Project or System?” (April 2020). Presented at the 2020 Michigan Law Junior Scholars Conference.
  • “Receptions of Carl Schmitt in China Since 1929.” (December 2019). Presented at the 8th Asian Constitutional Law Forum. Vietnam National University, Hanoi.
  • “Myanmar and the Hegemonic Discourse of International Criminal Law.” (November 2019). Presented at Conference on “Colonial Wrongs, Double Standards, and Access to International Law.” Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP). Yangon, Myanmar.
  • “‘Absent Presence’ and Informal Hegemony: The League of Nations as a Project of Spatial Administration.” (July 2019). Paper presented at the conference on the League of Nations Decentred, University of Melbourne.
  • “China’s ‘Community of Common Destiny’: A New World Order?” (May 2019). Paper Presented at the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Cologne.
  • “The Origins and Influence of China’s Developmentalist Conception of Human Rights.” (January 2019). Paper presented at the conference on Redistributive Human Rights?, University of New South Wales.
  • “De-Universalized Hegemony in Carl Schmitt’s Großraumlehre: The Power to Characterize Spaces and Determine Norms,” (June, 2018). Paper presented at the conference on Hegemony in the International Order, University of Rome, Tor Vergata and the European Society of International Law (ESIL).
  • “Concrete Order Thinking for the Socialist Rechtsstaat: The Role of German Juristic Thought in China’s ‘New Era’ Constitutionalism,” (May, 2018).  Paper presented at the conference on Germany and the World, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
  • “International Criminal Law Categories in China,” (November, 2016). Paper presented at the conference on State Socialism, Legal Experts and the Genesis of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945, Humboldt University of Berlin.
  • “Sovereignty and Uncertainty in Han Fei, Hobbes, and Schmitt,” (May, 2016). Paper presented at the East-West Philosopher’s Conference, University of Hawaii.
  • “Legal Activism and Rights Consciousness in a ‘Puppet State’: Law in Manchukuo’s Civil Resistance, 1931-1945,” (January, 2016). Paper presented at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) “Research in Progress on East Asian Law & Society” 2016 Session, New York.
  • “Post-Secular Experimentation in the Chinese Party-State: Political Theology, Popular Religious Culture, and the Resumed Struggle for ‘Law,’” (November, 2015). Paper presented at the conference on Law, Religion, and Politics: Challenges to Traditional Borders in Global and Comparative Perspectives, Yale University.