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Jianxuan is currently pursuing her PhD at Durham Law School. She began her academic journey at Minzu University of China, where she earned her Bachelor of Law (2017-2021). Following this, she achieved her Master of Law degree from Georgetown University Law Center (2021-2022). She received the Georgetown Law General Merit Scholarship, graduated with Distinction, and was honoured on the Dean’s List. Deepening her passion for Criminology, she subsequently completed an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Edinburgh (2022-2023).


Current Research

Jianxuan’s PhD research focuses on the conceptualisation and implications of penal populism. Penal populism reflects a public preference for severe punishments, often side-lining defendants’ rights in favour of community interests and victim welfare. An example is the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ provision in the US, which mandates life imprisonment for individuals convicted three times, a response to growing public demands for harsher penalties. Through an analysis of daily discourses among the Chinese people, which often indicates a marked preference for capital punishment and retributive justice, Jianxuan delves into penal populism in the Chinese context. Her research titled ‘Understanding Penal Populism in Contemporary China: Nature, Driving Factors and Implications for the Chinese Criminal Justice System and Society’ delves into three core questions:

1. How is penal populism uniquely characterised in China, and how does it compare to other contexts? 2. What factors—social, economic, political, cultural, and the pandemic's influence—have catalysed its growth in China? 3. How has penal populism reshaped China’s criminal justice approach and societal norms, particularly in convictions, sentencing, and law enforcement?


Research Groups

Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ)

Centre for Chinese Law and Policy (CCLP)


Research Interests

Criminal Law, Criminal Justice, and Criminology

Chinese Law and Society



Prof Thom Brooks

Dr Zhiyu Li