China’s transformation from a developing economy into an emerging global power is likely to be the most consequential factor in twenty-first-century international politics. Its economy is now the second largest in the world, millions of Chinese citizens have been lifted out of poverty, and the People’s Liberation Army is quickly modernizing. In just a few decades, China has moved from the periphery to the center of the international system.
Yet despite numerous advances, China’s rise is not complete and its capabilities remain uneven. By some standards China is a developed country, yet in other ways it is still developing. Moreover, the nature of Chinese power is poorly understood. These unknowns result in misrepresentations of China’s position within the international community, which contributes to the uncertainty over the implications of China’s rise. ChinaPower addresses this problem by providing our users with the necessary tools to compare Chinese power with that of other countries.
Power as a concept is nebulous. Therefore, ChinaPower offers a clear statement of how we conceptualize power throughout the website. In broad terms, ChinaPower examines five interrelated categories of Chinese power: military, economic, technological, social, and international image. Since Chinese power cannot be evaluated in a vacuum, each element of power is compared with other relevant countries.
At the heart of ChinaPower are exploratory questions specifically developed to illuminate the different aspects of Chinese power. The questions include, among others, How is China modernizing its nuclear forces? How influential is China in the World Trade Organization? How web-connected is China? Engaging with such questions, users will have the necessary tools to explore the evolution of Chinese power and the implications of China’s rise.
In this way, ChinaPower uses data visualization and expert analysis to unpack the complexity of Chinese power. The data that drives our visualizations has been carefully selected to enhance our users’ understanding of Chinese power. To ensure the reliability of our data, each indicator has been reviewed by our expert steering committee. All data utilized by ChinaPower that is not otherwise copyrighted or protected is freely downloadable through our data repository.
Data itself only tells half the story. Our experts provide the necessary context to help users interpret the data and to address complex questions for which data is not readily available. The inclusion of expert analysis is a unique feature of ChinaPower. The experts who contribute analysis to ChinaPower conduct their analysis in their personal capacity, using the expertise they have acquired as scholars and officials. All contributors have intellectual independence and have been invited to share their personal perspectives.
CSIS and ChinaPower strive to maintain objectivity. ChinaPower does not promote a particular point of view, nor does it advocate a specific conclusion regarding the trajectory or consequences of China’s rise. Through interacting with the questions developed on this site, ChinaPower empowers our users to draw their own conclusions. The ChinaPower team welcomes feedback and opinions, and hopes to lay the groundwork for constructive debate on China’s rise.
ChinaPower is made possible by a generous contribution from Carnegie Corporation of New York. To learn more about how to support ChinaPower, please contact us.
Bonny Lin is a senior fellow for Asian security and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Previously, she was the acting associate director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE, and a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where she analyzed different aspects of U.S. competition with China, including U.S.-China competition for influence in the Indo-Pacific and China’s use of gray zone tactics against U.S. allies and partners. Her research advised senior leaders in the Department of Defense, including military leaders at U.S. Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Army Pacific. Dr. Lin also served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2015 to 2018, where she was director for Taiwan, country director for China, and senior advisor for China.
Dr. Lin holds a PhD in political science from Yale University, a master’s degree in Asian studies with a focus on China from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard College. While pursuing her master’s, she interned at CSIS.
Matthew P. Funaiole is a senior fellow for data analysis with the iDeas Lab and a senior fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He specializes in using data-driven research to unpack complex policy issues, specifically those related to Chinese foreign and security policy, cross-Strait relations, and maritime trade. From late 2015 through mid-2020, he was the principal researcher for the ChinaPower website. Prior to joining CSIS, Dr. Funaiole taught international relations and foreign policy analysis at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, where he also completed his doctoral research. Dr. Funaiole is also engaged in several creative writing projects, and he is an avid photography enthusiast.
Brian Hart is an associate fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) where he researches the evolving nature of Chinese power. His particular research interests include Chinese foreign policy, Chinese military modernization, and U.S.-China technological competition. Prior to joining the China Power Project, he conducted research on Chinese politics and foreign policy for the Project 2049 Institute, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS, and Trivium China. Brian earned his M.A. with honors in China Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Graduate Certificate in China Studies from the SAIS Hopkins-Nanjing Center. He holds a B.A. with honors in Politics and International Affairs from Wake Forest University.
Hannah Price is a program manager with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Prior to joining CSIS, Hannah worked at the Atlantic Council, where she focused on individual membership, development operations, and board relations. Hannah graduated from George Washington University’s University Honors Program with a B.A. in international affairs and a minor in Chinese language and literature. During her undergraduate studies, Hannah studied abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China, and interned with Business Incentives (BI) Worldwide in Shanghai, China.
Tai Ming Cheung
Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego, and Director of the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
Thomas J. Christensen
Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University
M. Taylor Fravel
Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Director of the MIT Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aaron L. Friedberg
Professor of Politics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses; Rear Admiral, United States Navy (Ret.)
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science, and International Affairs at the George Washington University
Senior Adviser and Korea Chair, CSIS; Vice Dean for Faculty and Graduate Affairs and D.S. Song-KF Chair in the School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University
Senior Adviser for Asian Economics and Simon Chair in Political Economy, CSIS
Michael J. Green
Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, CSIS; Director of Asian Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University
Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and Director of the International Security Program, CSIS
Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics, CSIS
Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy and National Security Program, CSIS
Senior Fellow and Director of the Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS
Senior Adviser and Scholl Chair in International Business, CSIS
Senior Fellow and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, CSIS