Alex Stephenson is a program specialist with the China team at USIP. He focuses on U.S.-China relations, the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese defense policy, and Indo-Pacific security.

He previously worked as a research assistant at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), where his research focused on the Chinese military's adoption of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. Prior to CSET, Stephenson served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy.

Stephenson is currently pursuing a master’s in Asian studies with a concentration in security and politics at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. In addition to his studies, he serves as an editor for the Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs. He holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration and Asian studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He speaks Mandarin.

Publications By Alex

Three Key Takeaways from the Biden-Xi Summit

Three Key Takeaways from the Biden-Xi Summit

Thursday, November 17, 2022

By: Rosie Levine;  Jennifer Staats, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

With the U.S.-China relationship at its lowest point in decades, the American and Chinese leaders met this week on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Indonesia for their first face-to-face summit since Joe Biden was elected. The deteriorating bilateral relationship became particularly concerning in August when China cut key lines of communication between Washington and Beijing, including on critical military and climate issues, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

What a Russian Nuclear Escalation Would Mean for China and India

What a Russian Nuclear Escalation Would Mean for China and India

Thursday, November 10, 2022

By: Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.;  Vikram J. Singh;  Alex Stephenson

Since Russia began its assault on Ukraine last February, India and China have straddled the fence by hinting at their concerns regarding the war’s global fallout while avoiding direct public criticism of Moscow. Despite rhetorical consternation and calls for a peaceful resolution, neither has shown a willingness to meaningfully push back against Putin’s escalations in Ukraine. Instead, the two Asian nuclear powers are approaching the situation with caution and calculated diplomacy to preserve their own strategic interests — both in Russia and the West.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security

Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

Earlier this month Chinese leader Xi Jinping made his first foreign trip since the coronavirus outbreak, joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The summit was Xi’s first in-person opportunity to win support outside of China’s borders for his new Global Security Initiative (GSI), which he launched in April. While the GSI remains notional and somewhat vague, Xi is on the offensive, seeking to position his vision of a new global security architecture as an alternative to the Western-led security order. In an era of heightened strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, Xi’s GSI campaign could amount to yet another challenge to the U.S.-China relationship and the two countries’ ability to peacefully manage differences.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

How Should the U.S. Respond to China’s ‘Global Security Initiative?’

How Should the U.S. Respond to China’s ‘Global Security Initiative?’

Thursday, August 4, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

After Russia invaded Ukraine, some hoped that China would use its “no limits” partnership with Moscow and multifaceted relationship with Kyiv to help prevent the conflict from escalating. The European Union’s foreign policy chief pointed to China as the obvious mediator and some among China’s policy elite also called publicly on their government to play a proactive role in helping to resolve the war. One prominent American intellectual urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to seize his “Teddy Roosevelt Moment,” referring to Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize winning mediation of the 1905 Russia-Japan war. For its part, Beijing indicated it was prepared to help mediate but it would do so “in its own way.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

The United States and China: Who Changed the ‘Status Quo’ over Taiwan?

The United States and China: Who Changed the ‘Status Quo’ over Taiwan?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

By: Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

Taiwan has been the perennial problematic issue in U.S.-China relations for decades. President Biden’s comments during a recent trip to East Asia put that in stark relief. When asked if the United States would be willing to “militarily defend” Taiwan if China were to invade, Biden said, “Yes, that’s the commitment we made.” Administration officials later appeared to walk back the president’s comments. But Beijing reacted forcefully, conducting military drills close to the island and with numerous Chinese officials condemning the comments. Most recently, at the Shangri-La Dialogue earlier this June, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe warned that the People’s Liberation Army will “fight to the very end” if Taiwan dares to “secede” from China. Beijing’s vociferous reaction to Biden’s comments underscores how contentious the Taiwan issue remains and how easily tensions can flare.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

View All