Elizabeth Economy

Senior Fellow (ON LEAVE)

Elizabeth Economy is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she previously served as the C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia Studies for over a decade. Economy is currently on leave serving as a senior foreign advisor in the Department of Commerce for the current administration.

Economy is an acclaimed author and expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Her most recent book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, (Oxford University Press, 2018; Thai edition, 2018; Chinese (Taiwan) edition, 2019) was shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize, a prestigious literary award for foreign affairs books. She is also author of By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World (Oxford University Press, 2014; Vietnamese, 2019) with Michael Levi, and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (Cornell University Press, 2004; 2nd edition, 2010; Japanese edition, 2005; Chinese edition, 2011). The River Runs Black was named one of the top 50 sustainability books in 2008 by the University of Cambridge, won the 2005 International Convention on Asia Scholars Award for the best social sciences book published on Asia, and was listed as one of the top ten books of 2004 by the Globalist as well as one of the best business books of 2010 by Booz Allen Hamilton's strategy+business magazine. She also coedited China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects (Council on Foreign Relations Press, with Michel Oksenberg, 1999) and The Internationalization of Environmental Protection (Cambridge University Press, with Miranda Schreurs, 1997). She has published articles in foreign policy and scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, and Foreign Policy, and op-eds in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Economy is a frequent guest on nationally broadcast television and radio programs, has testified before Congress on numerous occasions, and regularly consults for U.S. government agencies and companies. She writes about topics involving China on CFR's Asia Program blog, Asia Unbound, which is syndicated by Forbes.com. In June 2018, Economy was named one of the "10 Names That Matter on China Policy" by Politico Magazine.

Economy serves on the board of managers of Swarthmore College and the board of trustees of the Asia Foundation and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. She is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group. She was also on the advisory council of Network 20/20 and the science advisory council of the Stockholm Environment Forum. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Agenda Council on the United States from 2014 to 2016 and served as a member and then vice chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of China from 2008 to 2014. Economy also served on the board of the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies.

Economy received her BA with honors from Swarthmore College, her AM from Stanford University, and her PhD from the University of Michigan. In 2008, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Vermont Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

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Recent Commentary


Elizabeth Economy: "You Never See China Step Up"

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia RNZ
Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses China's role in the world and explains Beijing's ambition to reclaim the country's past glory and sit atop a new international system as the global superpower. But, Economy notes that China wants the rights - without the responsibilities - of global leadership.

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“Credible, Lovable, and Respectable”?

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Hoover fellow Elizabeth Economy appraises China’s performance as a star player on the world stage. Beijing, she concludes in her new book, The World According to China, is still struggling to master the role.

Lessons From The Hoover Policy Boot CampFeatured

Rethinking US-China Relations In The Biden Era

by Elizabeth Economyvia PolicyEd
Thursday, April 14, 2022

Elizabeth Economy identifies and explains the essential elements of devising and implementing an effective foreign policy and national security strategy toward China. 

EssaysAnalysis and Commentary

Digital Currencies: The US, China, And The World At A Crossroads

via Hoover Institution Press
Friday, March 4, 2022

This multidisciplinary report explores the economic and sociopolitical motives for China’s central bank digital currency and its implications for privacy, international security, and the leading role of the United States in global finance. Among the key findings: The US government should advocate for democratic norms of privacy, accountability, transparency, and security in shaping the global standards for digital currencies, and should improve innovation and competition in its own payment systems.


Elizabeth Economy: Chinese President Xi Jinping's Vision For The World

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia The Agenda with Steve Paikin
Thursday, February 17, 2022

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy talks about China's successes and stumbles, China's hostile relationship with the US, and her book, The World According to China. Hear more from Economy on Bloomberg here and here.


Elizabeth Economy: China's Vision For The International System

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy talks about China’s approach to the international system, which China views as unjust and unfair.

In the News

China’s True Ambitions, And What They Mean For The U.S.

featuring Elizabeth Economyvia The Washington Post
Friday, January 28, 2022

That China’s rise poses a deep challenge to the United States is a belief now widely shared among policymakers and the public, with roughly 9 in 10 Americans viewing the country as a threat or a competitor, according to a recent Pew survey. Too often what is lacking, however, is the “why,” with China portrayed as a one-dimensional villain out to eat our lunch, a framing all too common in Washington these days.

In the News

A Look Into The Authoritarian World Xi Jinping And Vladimir Putin Hope To Create

featuring Elizabeth Economyvia The Philadelphia Inquirer
Thursday, January 20, 2022

Elizabeth Economy's new book, The World According to China, describes Xi Jinping's military and economic coercion, which is echoed by Russia's threat to Ukraine.


Elizabeth Economy On GPS: What To Expect From China In The New Year

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia CNN
Monday, January 10, 2022

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses what China's priorities might be in 2022.

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The World According to China

by Elizabeth Economyvia Polity
Tuesday, January 4, 2022

An economic and military superpower with 20 percent of the world’s population, China has the wherewithal to transform the international system. Xi Jinping’s bold calls for China to “lead in the reform of the global governance system” suggest that he has just such an ambition. But how does he plan to realize it? And what does it mean for the rest of the world?