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: China's Power: Up For Debate

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Center for Strategic & International Studies
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses the challenges and opportunities presented by China’s rise in power as well as the core issues underpinning the nature of Chinese power.


Elizabeth Economy: Why It Matters: China Doesn't Want Your Trash

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Council on Foreign Relations
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy talks about how for years, industrialized nations across the world shipped enormous quantities of recyclable material to China. Then, in 2018, China banned most waste imports. The reversal sent shock waves through the global recycling system, and forced many towns and cities to start burning and dumping material that they used to recycle.

In the News

Lessons On China's Global Politics

featuring Elizabeth Economyvia Duke Today
Friday, October 18, 2019

Look no further than the recent flare up between the NBA and China for a snapshot of Chinese politics today. After Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image with the message “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” Chinese companies enacted a media boycott of the NBA and pulled sponsorships in a market worth $4 billion a year for the league. U.S. politicians blasted the moves – and the NBA’s initial hesitant response.


Elizabeth Economy: Xi Jinping At The Center Of "The Third Revolution" In China

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Boise State Public Radio
Sunday, October 6, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses her new book, The Third Revolution. Economy provides an incisive look at the transformative changes underway in China today. 


China’s Neo-Maoist Moment

by Elizabeth Economyvia Foreign Affairs
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

How Xi Jinping Is Using China’s Past to Accomplish What His Predecessors Could Not


Surveillance: Xi Jinping’s Vision With CFR’s Elizabeth Economy (Podcast)

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Bloomberg
Monday, September 30, 2019

(9:25) Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy says the Chinese government will continue to use all the mechanisms they have at their disposal to keep their economy stable.

Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution Collection, Box 2, Hoover Institution Archives

Elizabeth Economy: Podcast: Joshua Wong And Brian Leung On Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Movement

interview with Elizabeth Economyvia Council on Foreign Relations
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses the roots of Joshua Wong's and Brian Leung's protest movement (two of the Hong Kong protest movement’s most vocal leaders) political activism, their thoughts on the protest’s current status, and their goals for their tour abroad.

Elizabeth Economy: Hearing on “U.S.-China Relations in 2019: A Year in Review”

featuring Elizabeth Economyvia The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Elizabeth Economy testifies at a hearing on “U.S.-China Relations in 2019: A Year in Review."

In the News

Justin B. Smith, CEO Of Bloomberg Media

mentioning Elizabeth Economyvia Politico
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I am in Bali, Indonesia, with my family. It’s quite a long way from D.C., but 22 years ago I built a house here with my five best friends in the world. One of the best crazy things I’ve ever done!”

In the News

Pompeo Makes History In Pohnpei, Courts Pacific Allies

quoting Elizabeth Economyvia Saudi Gazette
Monday, August 5, 2019

Mike Pompeo became the first US Secretary of State to visit Micronesia Monday, as Washington's signaled a renewed interest in its Pacific allies, no matter how small, in the face of regional competition with China.