I was born in Sichuan province, China, and gained my BA from Sichuan University. I then came to the UK for my postgraduate work, receiving my PhD from the University of London in 1998. In the past 20 years, I have lived in London, Jerusalem, Beijing and Hong Kong. Between January 2001 and December 2007, I was a Research Fellow in the History Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and from December 2007 to December 2012 I was Research Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities, University of Hong Kong.
My research is concerned with modern China. I am among a growing number of historians who are pioneering the history of the People's Republic of China through the use of new oral and archival evidence. Based on thousands of archival documents and hundreds of interviews I have collected, my recent works The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962: A Documentary History (2012) and Forgotten Voices of Maos Great Famine, 1958-1961: An Oral History (2014) are powerful accounts which have helped to reshape our understanding of modern Chinese history.
I have also a long track record in media activities. Some of my interviews with famine survivors have appeared in the award winning French Documentary film Maos Great Famine (2012).
I amcurrently writing a book 'Health for the Nation: Health Intervention and Delivery in the PRC under Mao, 1949-1983'. This book is part of a larger project on Public Health Campaigns and Local Healing Practices in the PRC. This project is funded by the European Commission Research Executive Agency. Using a wide range of newly available archival materials from eight different provinces AND of equal importance extensive oral interviews with the participants at both the expert and grassroots level, this project sets out to develop a better and more nuanced understanding of the Chinese approach to health. It explores the processes through which the Maoist health system was conceived and the political context in which they were, andcouldbe, evaluated. This project contributes to the current global health policy debates concerning the importance of political commitment to health, sustained investment, access to health, the pursuit of community engagement, and action on the wider determinants of health.