Elizabeth C. Economy
C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies
Chinese domestic and foreign policy; U.S.-China relations; global environmental issues.
The U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series is an ongoing series that provides a forum for the discussion of the major issues that shape Chinese domestic policies and that have an impact on the U.S. relationship with China and the rest of the region. The Roundtable cosponsors events with the Council’s General Meetings and Corporate programs. Recent sessions have included speakers such as Michael Green, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Major General Karl Eikenberry; and Randall Schriver, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Approximately six sessions are held each program year.
This series is made possible through generous support from the Starr Foundation.
April 1, 2001—December 1, 2001
The importance of China’s environmental practices both for its domestic stability and the resolution of global environmental problems is growing. This study group will address three core questions that U.S. policy makers should consider. First, how are the environmental challenges in China leading to the establishment of new political institutions, actors, and alliances that may challenge the political system? Second, with which Chinese actors should the United States engage in dialogue and cooperative ventures? Finally, what do these domestic political changes suggest for China’s interest and capacity in responding to the U.S. environmental priorities, such as global climate change? Elizabeth Economy will produce a book to assess environmental trends within the broader context of China’s political and economic reforms and its expanding linkages to the outside world. The analysis will also serve as the basis for a set of policy recommendations for U.S. officials as they negotiate Sino-American relations.
January 1, 2000—January 1, 2001
October 1, 1998—April 1, 1999
To date there has been no examination of the implications and opportunities involved in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) political transition for either the success of China’s economic reform program or overall U.S. interests. The foreign policy community in the United States needs a more complete picture of the evolving social and political dynamics that will ultimately shape the China that emerges in the 21st century. This group filled in this gap by examining the political reforms underway in the PRC, their implications for the success of economic reforms, and the opportunities for U.S. actors (government, business, and NGOs) to influence this process. Topics explored included: grassroots democracy, center-provincial relations, the evolution of the rule of law, the People’s Liberation Army and nationalism, and the rise of the entrepreneurial and middle classes. Elizabeth Economy’s analysis from the study group proceedings was the foundation for an article, titled "Reforming China," that was published in the journal Survival (Autumn 1999).
One of the most salient characteristics of China today is the transitional nature of its economy. Its operations in many areas of business relations suffer from the incomplete nature of its legal system, the vagaries of domestic politics, and the complex interrelationship between Chinese business and political entities. "From Bicycles to Beepers" explored issues such as: What are the recent changes in legal reform, banking, and securities? How is Beijing molding Shanghai to be China's financial center in 2000? How do investments differ from province to province? U.S. Secretary for Agriculture Daniel R. Glickman delivered the keynote address, and seminar and workshop topics were led by U.S. and Chinese experts from the business, law and government sectors on topics including the future of U.S.-China trade relations, legal reform, joint ventures and strategic alliances, pharmaceuticals, textiles and manufacturing, telecommunications, and aviation.
December 1, 1996—February 1, 1998
Through an ongoing series of roundtable discussions, this project explored the scope of regional and global environmental threats emerging from industrializing Asia. Participants discussed issues such as the preservation of biodiversity in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia; compliance with international environmental treaties in India, China, and Japan; the environmental impact of the Three Gorges Dam project; and the environmental records of China and Japan.
October 1, 1996—June 30, 2001
The Hong Kong Forum seeks to promote the exchange of ideas and information between scholars and policymakers world-wide, and to foster better communication between the United States and China. As such, the Asia Studies program has formed a partnership with the Forum, through which six Council fellows speak to their membership in Hong Kong each year on relevant topics. Elizabeth Economy, Adam Segal, and Stephen Flynn are among the most recent fellows who have spoken for the Forum.
November 1, 1995—October 1, 1996
This study group evaluated Chinese participation in a range of international regimes and assessed the implications of its behavior for U.S. policy interests, focusing on ten issue areas of critical importance to the United States: human rights, telecommunications, environment, energy, security, the United Nations, civil aviation, legal reform, trade and investment, and banking and finance. The study group report, Shaping U.S.-China Relations: A Long-Term Strategy, sheds light both on the continuity in Chinese leaders' overarching foreign policy goals, strategies, and tactics and on the changes China has made in adapting its domestic institutions and policies to the demands of the international community. It articulates the ways in which the U.S. administration's policy of constructive engagement has influenced Chinese behavior at the domestic and international levels, and provides a set of recommendations as to whether the United States and its allies should continue to pursue this policy, how it might be modified to better serve U.S. interests, and whether an alternative policy altogether would be more effective. An edited volume with all ten case studies will be published in fall 1997.