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.
Bonnie S. Glaser is a senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she works on issues related to Chinese foreign and security policy. She is concomitantly a nonresident fellow with the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a senior associate with the Pacific Forum. From 2008 to 2015, Ms. Glaser was a senior adviser with the Freeman Chair in China Studies, and from 2003 to mid-2008, she was a senior associate in the CSIS International Security Program. Prior to joining CSIS, she served as a consultant for various U.S. government offices, including the Departments of Defense and State. Ms. Glaser has written extensively on Chinese foreign and security policy. She is currently a board member of the U.S. Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Matthew P. Funaiole is a senior fellow with the China Power Project at CSIS, where he works on projects that pertain to Chinese foreign and security policy, cross-strait relations, and the broader Asia-Pacific security architecture. He is the principal researcher for the ChinaPower website, which uses data visualization and written analysis to unpack the complexity of China’s rise. His research interests include strategic relationships, power balancing, and alliance structures in the Asia-Pacific. 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.
Kelly Flaherty is program manager and research associate with the China Power Project at CSIS, where she works on a variety of projects focused on Chinese foreign and security policy, U.S.-China bilateral relations, and cross-strait relations. Prior to joining CSIS, she was a marketing and recruiting manager at the Ameson Foundation, a nonprofit educational and cultural exchange organization. As an undergraduate, Ms. Flaherty interned at the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence and volunteered at an orphanage in Ningde, China, with Harvard China Care. Ms. Flaherty graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian studies, concentrating on China and government.
Brian Hart is a research associate with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where his research focuses on China’s military, economic, and technological developments. Prior to joining CSIS, he served as a presidential fellow in the office of the dean of the College at Wake Forest University. Brian earned an M.A. with distinction in China studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a graduate certificate in Chinese studies from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China. He holds a B.A. with honors in politics and international affairs from Wake Forest University.
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.
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
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.
Current and Former CSIS Staff
Alexandra Viers, Jacqueline Vitello, Caroline Amenabar, William Colson, Nirja Desai, Tucker Harris, Grace Hearty, David Parker, Mingda Qiu, Jacqueline Schrag, Rebecka Shirazi, Daniel Sofio, and Amy Studdart.
Current and Former ChinaPower Interns
Tabatha Anderson, Elizabeth Bachman, Emily Chen, John Chen, Ian Cheung, Dane Cooper, Kevin Dong, Brendan Flynn, Jingyu Gao, Marc Hedman, Hannah Hindel, Seungha Hong, Emily Jin, Sophie Jones, Kaya Kuo, Jieun Lee, Taeheon Lee, Xiaotong Liu, Linnea Logie, Jennifer Mayer, Brian Moore, Aidan Powers-Riggs, Sloane Rice, Jonathan Seng, Erin Slawson, Suzanna Stephens, Haoyu Tong, Aaron Vale, Caroline Wesson, Julia Wieczorek, Tim Yin, Jin Yoo, Sean Yu. and Jocelyn Wang.
Established in Washington, D.C. nearly 60 years ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to advancing practical ideas that address the world’s greatest challenges. To learn more about CSIS, visit www.CSIS.org.