Elizabeth Economy

Senior Fellow

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: Biden’s China Challenge

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Politically Sound (CNN)
Friday, February 12, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses how and why President Biden’s foreign policy and his approach to China differ from former President Trump’s policy, and what lies ahead for US-China relations under this new administration.

In the News

Biden’s Pick For U.N. Ambassador Will Have To Juggle Containment And Collaboration With China

quoting Elizabeth Economyvia Foreign Policy
Thursday, February 11, 2021

[Subscription Required] The administration is moving quickly to reassert U.S. leadership but needs Beijing’s support for major initiatives.

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Elizabeth Economy On China’s Communist Party-State Under Xi Jinping | Episode 2101

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Conversations on China’s Global Sharp Power
Thursday, February 4, 2021

Hoover senior fellow, Elizbeth Economy discusses the structure of the Chinese party-state, and Xi Jinping's populist appeal.


Elizabeth Economy: Revival Of Transatlantic Bond Under Biden's America: What Awaits China?

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses revival of Transatlantic Bond under Biden's America.


The China Model: Unexceptional Exceptionalism

by Elizabeth Economyvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Friday, December 4, 2020

At the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October 2017, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping startled international observers by claiming that “the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics is now flying high and proud for all to see . . . blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization. It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence, and it offers Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing humanity.

In the News

Four Experts Give Their View On What China Can Expect From The Biden Administration

quoting Elizabeth Economyvia China-Britain Business Focus
Monday, November 23, 2020

After four years of tariffs and a war of words, American policy on China is likely to change under President-elect Joe Biden. We asked four experts to give CBBC their view.

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Great Decisions: America in the World: Session 1: Critical Countries

interview with Russell A. Berman, Elizabeth Economy, H. R. McMastervia Fellow Talks
Monday, November 16, 2020

The Hoover Institution is hosting Great Decisions: America in the World on November 16, November 18, and December 11, 2020. The topic for Session 1 on November 16 is Critical Countries. This session features Russell Berman, Elizabeth Economy, and H.R. McMaster. Michael Auslin moderates the discussion. 

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Democracy and Authoritarianism

interview with Larry Diamond, Elizabeth Economy, Bill Whalenvia Fellow Talks
Thursday, November 12, 2020


The Hoover Institution presents an online virtual speaker series based on the scholarly research and commentary written by Hoover fellows participating in the Human Prosperity Project on Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism.


Elizabeth Economy: Jim Zirin-Can We Fix the China Relationship?

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia JimZirinTV
Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses the US-China relationship.


Elizabeth Economy: Why China Is The Biggest Foreign Policy Risk Facing The U.S., According To A Scholar

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia CNBC
Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy says that China remains the biggest foreign policy risk facing the US.