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 contribute 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 Expanding its Infrastructure to Project Power Along its Western Borders? Is China’s Covid-19 Diplomacy Succeeding? What Does China Really Spend on its Military? 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.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (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 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 vice president of iDeas Lab, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Chair in Innovation and senior fellow of 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 a fellow with the China Power Project at CSIS, where he researches the evolving nature of Chinese power. His particular research interests include Chinese foreign and security 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.
Truly Tinsley is a program manager with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Prior to joining CSIS, Truly worked at Democracy International, where she focused on global operations. Truly graduated from George Washington University with an MA in international affairs in Asia.
Samantha Lu is a research assistant with the China Power Project and the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include China’s internal politics, as well as Chinese foreign policy and military power. Previously, she was a research intern with the China Power Project. During her undergraduate studies, she interned with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and the Council on Foreign Relations, where she supported public affairs and programming. Samantha holds a BA with honors in international relations from the University of Southern California.
ChinaPower is a product of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos iDeas Lab, the in-house digital, multimedia, and design agency at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Bonnie S. Glaser
Bonnie S. Glaser was senior adviser for Asia at CSIS and the director of the China Power Project from 2016 to 2021.
Bonnie Chan was a fellow with the China Power Project from 2020 to 2021.
Harry Du was a research assistant with the China Power Project from 2017 to 2019. A loyal friend and a consummate professional, his wit and sense of humor brought a smile to everyone’s face. Harry sadly passed away in 2019, but his legacy will endure through the many lives he touched.
Current and Former CSIS Staff
Caroline Amenabar, William Colson, Ben Connors, Ali Corwin, Nirja Desai, Kelly Flaherty, Tucker Harris, Grace Hearty, Serven Maraghi, David Parker, Hannah Price, Mingda Qiu, Jacqueline Schrag, Rebecka Shirazi, Daniel Sofio, Amy Studdart, Lindsay Urchyk, Alexandra Viers, and Jacqueline Vitello.
Current ChinaPower Interns
Yu-jie (Grace) Liao
Former ChinaPower Interns
Tabatha Anderson, Elizabeth Bachman, Patrick Beyrer, Josh Bramble, John Callahan, Emily Chen, John Chen, Ian Cheung, Asiana Cooper, Dane Cooper, Kevin Dong, Viola Lingyu Du, Brendan Flynn, Jake Galant, Jingyu Gao, Rileigh Greutert, Tyler Hayward, Marc Hedman, Hannah Hindel, Seungha Hong, Emily Jin, Sophie Jones, Nicholas Kaufman, Kaya Kuo, Jieun Lee, Taeheon Lee, Xiaotong Liu, Linnea Logie, Senqi Ma, Jennifer Mayer, Qin (Maya) Mei, Wenlan Miao, Brian Moore, Hanyue (Amy) Ouyang, Ben Parker, Morgan Peirce, Aidan Powers-Riggs, Sloane Rice, Jonathan Seng, Matthew Slade, Erin Slawson, Suzanna Stephens, Haoyu Tong, Gavril Torrijos, Aaron Vale, Caroline Wesson, Julia Wieczorek, Tim Yin, Jin Yoo, Sean Yu, and Jocelyn Wang.
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