Peter Harris is a specialist in governance reform, international relations and political and cultural history, with particular reference to China and its neighbours. He has a BA (1st Class Honours) in Chinese and an M Phil in International Relations from the University of Oxford. He is an Honorary Member of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is also an international consultant on governance, civil society and democratic reform. He has undertaken numerous consultancies in these fields, including for USAID (the United States Agency for International Development).
Since 1996 he has been associated with Victoria University of Wellington in various China-related capacities, including as founding Director of the Asian Studies Institute and Acting Director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre. Earlier he was founding Executive Director of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Representative of the Ford Foundation in China, head of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Chinese Service, leader writer on Asia for The Times of London, and head of Asia Research at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International. He was also a visiting professor at Nanjing University, Nanjing, and a teacher and lecturer at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou.
Peter Harris has written, edited and translated numerous books and scholarly articles on China and Asia. His latest publication is a new edition of Sun Tzu’s Art of War(孫子兵法) (London and New York: Penguin Random House, March 2018), with a new translation that includes extracts from traditional commentators, an editor’s introduction, and a foreword by US General (Retd) David Petraeus.
His other publications include: China at the Crossroads: What the Third Plenum means for China, New Zealand and the World (editor, Victoria University Press for the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre, 2014), Three Hundred Tang Poems (a translation of 唐詩三百首) (London and New York: Penguin Random House/Alfred A Knopf, 2009), The Travels of Marco Polo (editor, Penguin Random House/Alfred A Knopf, 2008), and Zhou Daguan’s Record of Cambodia: The Land and its People (including a translation of 真臘風土記 by周達觀)(Chiang Mai: Silkworm Press and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007). Zhou Daguan’s Record of Cambodia, on a Chinese envoy’s account of the civilization of Angkor, was a Choice journal Outstanding Academic Title in 2008.
Refereed and other published articles on China have included an account of Chinese foreign policy since the 1960’s, a discussion of the 19th congress of the Communist Party of China, and analyses of the origins of Chinese nationalism and the nature of the Chinese state. He is currently completing work on an annotated translation of the late Qing-early Republic reformer Liang Qichao's classic discussion of the role of citizenship in modern China, The Doctrine of Renewing the People (新民說 Xin min shuo).
Peter Harris was born and brought up in England. For the past 24 years New Zealand has been his home. He lives in Wellington with his wife Vicky Noble, a health professional. They have three grown-up children.