ChinaPower

CSIS | Center for Strategic and International Studies

A podcast unpacking critical issues underpinning China’s emergence as a global power.

  • 38 minutes 10 seconds
    Taiwan's Upcoming Presidential Inauguration: A Conversation with Dr. Lauren Dickey

    In this episode of the China Power Podcast, Dr. Lauren Dickey joins us to discuss Taiwan’s upcoming inauguration of president-elect William Lai. Dr. Dickey dives into her predictions for Lai’s presidency and potential responses in the coming months from Beijing. She discusses what she thinks will be a continuation from Lai of his predecessor’s pragmatic approach in cross-Strait relations and that he will continue to seek stable footing with Beijing. Further, given the number of domestic issues China must currently content with, Dr. Dickey explains it is unlikely China will make any majors moves towards a large-scale conflict in the near future; rather, she predicts Beijing will likely respond to the inauguration with familiar grey zone activity towards Taiwan. Dr. Dickey speaks to the divided legislature that Lai will face, explaining he will likely have to facilitate certain trade-offs with the KMT in order to ensure legislation is passed. Finally, she gives her prediction for the Lai administration’s defense priorities and what that will mean for the US-Taiwan defense relationship.

    Dr. Lauren Dickey is currently the senior manager for geopolitical intelligence at Harman International Industries and a non-resident senior associate to the CSIS China Power Project. Previously, Lauren served as the senior advisor and acting director for Taiwan policy in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).  In this capacity, she led the development and implementation of all elements of the U.S.-Taiwan defense relationship for the DoD.  Prior to her position in the DoD, Lauren was a research scientist focused on Chinese military issues and China's evolving presence in the Indo-Pacific at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA).

    17 May 2024, 2:17 pm
  • 42 minutes 24 seconds
    Unpacking China’s PLA Restructuring: A Conversation with Dr. Joel Wuthnow

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Joel Wuthnow joins us to discuss China’s recent restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and particularly the disbanding of its Strategic Support Force and establishment of a new Information Support Force. Dr. Wuthnow explains the major organizational changes involved and how the new force fits into China’s overall military structure. He argues that while the PLA has long recognized the importance of dominating the information domain, this move suggests dissatisfaction with the previous organizational structure and its ability to effectively integrate capabilities for modern information warfare. He explains that these reforms do not indicate an acceleration of China’s military modernization goals or a shift towards a more offensive posture. Finally, Dr. Wuthnow shares his expectations for changes and priorities that may take shape for the PLA in the future.

    Dr. Wuthnow is a senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs within the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. His research areas include Chinese foreign and security policy, Chinese military affairs, U.S.-China relations, and strategic developments in East Asia. Dr. Wuthnow also serves as an adjunct professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

    9 May 2024, 6:26 pm
  • 34 minutes 56 seconds
    China’s Leftover Women: A Conversation with Dr. Leta Hong Fincher

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Leta Hong Fincher joins us to discuss the legal and social status of women in China. Dr. Fincher, who has written widely on gender issues in the PRC, reviews the history of Chinese marriage and divorce policies with an eye towards China’s contemporary feminist movements. She speaks to how the privatization of housing in the 1990s led to widening gender income gaps and the way women are increasingly discriminated against in the workplace. She highlights, amidst China’s ongoing demographic struggles, the plight of so-called “leftover women,” or sheng nu, who are faced with growing government and societal pressure to marry and start families. Dr. Fincher concludes by discussing the future of feminism in China, emphasizing the resilience and popularity of feminist movements despite the challenges they have faced.

    Dr. Leta Hong Fincher is a journalist and research associate at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. A sociologist by trade, she focuses on feminist issues in China and has published two books on this subject – Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (2018) and Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (2014, with a recently-published 10-year edition). Dr. Fincher is fluent in Mandarin and was the first American to receive a PhD in sociology from Beijing’s Tsinghua University. 

    25 April 2024, 7:37 pm
  • 43 minutes 31 seconds
    A Chinese Perspective on the Russia-Ukraine War: A Conversation with Dr. Zhao Hai

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Zhao Hai joins us to discuss China’s views on the Russia-Ukraine war and its broader implications for China. Dr. Zhao provides an assessment of how he thinks China perceives the evolving situation on the ground, emphasizing China’s concerns about the risk of further escalation between Russia and the West, potentially involving the use of nuclear weapons. He argues that the Ukraine crisis has heightened U.S.-Russia competition and speaks to how China views the conflict as a sign of the world order shifting towards one of multi-polarity. He also shared his assessment of the United States engaging in enhanced proxy warfare in Ukraine that could be used in the Indo-Pacific in the future.  

    Dr. Zhao is the director of the International Politics Program at the National Institute for Global Strategy and research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Before joining CASS, he was a research fellow at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University. His research interests are Sino-US strategic relations, geopolitics in East Asia, and international security cooperation. Dr. Zhao holds a PhD in international history from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in Asia-Pacific Studies from Peking University. The views he shared on the podcast were his personal views. 

    12 April 2024, 6:39 pm
  • 40 minutes 17 seconds
    The Political Thought of Xi Jinping: A Conversation with Dr. Steve Tsang

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Steve Tsang joins us to discuss his new book The Political Thought of Xi Jinping, coauthored with Dr. Olivia Cheung. Dr. Tsang explains that Xi Jinping thought is vastly different from the thought and practices of his predecessors, such as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Core to Xi Jinping thought is the desire to achieve China’s national rejuvenation and the embracement of the “Tian Xia” concept of Chinese hegemony. Dr. Tsang points out that Xi seeks to position China in a more prominent role on the world stage. Dr. Tsang highlights that through Xi’s efforts to centralize the Communist Party under his control and to create an alternative to the US-led international order, Xi aims to reshape policy both within China and abroad. Finally, Dr. Tsang shares his thoughts on how best to deter Xi Jinping.  

    Dr. Steve Tsang is Professor of China Studies and Director of the China Institute, SOAS, London. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College at Oxford. He previously served as the Head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies and as Director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham. Before that he spent 29 years at Oxford University, where he earned his D.Phil. and worked as a Professorial Fellow, Dean, and Director of the Asian Studies Centre at St Antony’s College. 

    28 March 2024, 8:32 pm
  • 36 minutes 37 seconds
    National Security with Chinese Characteristics: A Conversation with Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens joins us to discuss one of President Xi Jinping’s signature priorities: China’s national security. She delves into Xi's “Comprehensive National Security concept,” emphasizing its broad scope with over 20 different components, covering everything from border security to food security. Dr. Greitens discusses Xi Jinping’s preventive rather than reactive approach to security threats, in an attempt to treat what the CCP views as root causes to security issues rather than just the symptoms. Finally, Dr. Greitens explains how China’s views of national security influences how it exerts control at home and uses force abroad. 

    Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens is Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where she directs UT’s Asia Policy Program. Her research focuses on security, authoritarian politics, foreign policy, and East Asia. Currently, Dr. Greitens is on leave to serve as a Visiting Associate Professor of Research in Indo-Pacific Security at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. She is also concurrently a Nonresident Scholar with the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 


    15 March 2024, 3:58 pm
  • 40 minutes 4 seconds
    China’s Perspective on the Current Middle East Crises: A Conversation with Mr. Tuvia Gering

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Mr. Tuvia Gering joins us to discuss China’s strategy in the context of the Israel-Hamas war and the Red Sea crisis. He dissects the different views within China and the role China has played in both. He shares that China blames the United States for the war and that the PRC response to the region is informed by China’s desire to push back against the Western-led world order. Mr. Gering also discusses the politics behind the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and the economic ramifications that have followed. Overall, China’s responses to both crises have been high on rhetoric and low on action. Finally, Mr. Gering warns of the possibility of broader escalation in the Middle east and the low likelihood of Chinese willingness to work with the United States. 

     Tuvia Gering is a nonresident fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, a researcher at the Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation Israel-China Policy Center at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), and a Tikvah Fund’s Krauthammer fellow based in Jerusalem and specializing in Chinese security and foreign policy. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and the Israeli Chinese Media Center. 

    1 March 2024, 5:03 pm
  • 27 minutes 5 seconds
    Shedding Light on China’s Hidden Reach: A Conversation with Dr. Matthew Funaiole and Mr. Brian Hart

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Matthew P. Funaiole and Mr. Brian Hart join us to discuss the work of Hidden Reach, a special initiative focused on analyzing China’s growing influence abroad. Ranging from China’s use of civilian research vessels to collection intelligence to its construction of ground stations in South America, Hidden Reach’s analysis explores “blind spots” that US media and policy have often overlooked. Funaiole and Hart discuss the key role that satellite imagery plays in open-source intelligence to tell the story of China’s expanding global influence and its implications. They dive into Hidden Reach’s existing work, with an eye towards future projects and the overarching goals of the initiative.

    Matthew P. Funaiole is vice president of iDeas Lab, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Chair in Innovation and senior fellow of China Power Project at the 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.

    Brian Hart is a fellow with the China Power Project at CSIS and helps to lead Hidden Reach. Brian’s research focuses primarily on Chinese foreign and security policy, Chinese military modernization, U.S.-China relations, and Taiwan security issues. Prior to joining the China Power Project, he conducted research for the Project 2049 Institute, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS, and Trivium China. Brian earned his MA with honors in China studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and he received a graduate certificate in China studies from the SAIS Hopkins-Nanjing Center. He also received a BA with honors in politics and international affairs from Wake Forest University, where he graduated magna cum laude.

    16 February 2024, 4:38 pm
  • 42 minutes 58 seconds
    Unpacking China’s Nuclear Modernization: A Conversation with Hans Kristensen

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Mr. Hans Kristensen joins us to unravel the complexity of China’s expanding nuclear capabilities. Mr. Kristensen compares the composition of China’s nuclear stockpile to its global counterparts and analyzes China’s ongoing modernization campaign of its nuclear force in detail. Mr. Kristensen addresses the uncertainties surrounding China’s nuclear program and strategy, in particular the credibility of China’s long-held “no first use” policy. He dives into China’s potential escalation scenarios in the region and concludes by pointing out that he believes China could seek a nuclear war-fighting capability. 

    Mr. Hans M. Kristensen is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, where he provides the public with analysis and background information about the status of nuclear forces and the role of nuclear weapons. Kristensen is co-author of the Nuclear Notebook column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the World Nuclear Forces overview in the SIPRI Yearbook. A leading expert on global nuclear weapon issues, Kristensen previously had a career spanning Greenpeace International, the Nautilus Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

    31 January 2024, 8:03 pm
  • 47 minutes 40 seconds
    Rethinking Strategic Competition with China: A Conversation with Elbridge Colby

    In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Mr. Elbridge Colby joins us to discuss U.S. strategic competition with China. Mr. Colby stresses that he is most worried about the PRC military threat. He advocates focusing on Taiwan as a principal flashpoint and says the United States should “speak softly and carry a big stick” by equipping allies for military deterrence rather than focusing exclusively on economic deterrence. Colby further discusses the Biden administration’s approach, emphasizing that the United States should focus more carefully on not appearing to contain China.  He also shares that there is consensus among Republicans that China is a central challenge to the United States but there are debates within the party as to how much the U.S. should focus on China. He concludes by advocating for a shift towards prioritizing the PRC, both in terms of force planning and relationships with allies in the region.

    Elbridge A. Colby is the founder of the Marathon Initiative, a nonprofit that focuses on American preparedness for great power competition. He is also former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Strategy and Force Development at the Department of Defense during the Trump administration and was the co-lead for the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.  An expert on the challenges of strategic competition, Colby is also the author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict. This podcast was recorded on January 10, 2024.

    18 January 2024, 7:02 pm
  • 1 hour 6 minutes
    China's Accelerated Expansion of its Nuclear Arsenal Represents a Shift in China's Nuclear Strategy and Doctrine: A Debate with Dr. Tong Zhao and Dr. Fiona Cunningham

    On Thursday, October 5, 2023, the China Power Project held its eighth annual conference. The conference consisted of five separate debates by leading experts each taking a side on core issues underpinning China’s power. We will be releasing each of these debates as their own podcast throughout the holiday season. We will be back with our regularly scheduled debates in Mid-January 2024.

    For this debate, the proposition is “China's accelerated expansion of its nuclear arsenal represents a shift in China's nuclear strategy and doctrine.” Arguing for this proposition is Dr. Tong Zhao, who is a senior fellow at the Nuclear Policy Program and Carnegie China at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Arguing against this proposition is Dr. Fiona Cunningham who is an assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    To watch the debate recordings, read the transcripts, or view the live or twitter polling, visit our website at https://chinapower.csis.org/chinas-power-up-for-debate-2023/.

    9 January 2024, 6:15 pm
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