Dr. Carla Freeman joins USIP after more than a decade as a member of the China Studies faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she also directed the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute. Previously, she worked on international civil society and sustainable development for The Johnson Foundation and as a political risk consultant focused on Asia. 

Dr. Freeman holds a doctorate in international relations and China from SAIS in addition to degrees from Yale University and Sciences Po. She specializes in China's foreign policy, nontraditional security issues, and U.S.-China relations. She is the author of multiple edited books, monographs, and articles. Recent published work includes a comparative study of China’s policies in the high seas and outer space, which won The China Quarterly's 2020 Gordon White Prize.

Publications By Carla

After G-20, Amid Unprecedented Protests: Where Do U.S.-China Relations Stand?

After G-20, Amid Unprecedented Protests: Where Do U.S.-China Relations Stand?

Thursday, December 1, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping met earlier this month on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering in Bali and came away with seemingly little to show for the gesture. Those hoping for a major reset in the U.S.-China relationship from the first face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi held were surely disappointed, with no signs of an emerging détente between Washington and Beijing visible.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global 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

Modi, Putin and Xi Join the SCO Summit Amid Turbulent Times

Modi, Putin and Xi Join the SCO Summit Amid Turbulent Times

Thursday, September 22, 2022

By: Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek;  Mary Glantz, Ph.D.;  Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Vikram J. Singh

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) resumed in-person summits last week in the wake of the COVID pandemic and at a moment of unprecedent change and challenge. Member states Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are at war over their border. So are dialogue partner states Armenia and Azerbaijan. All SCO members are dealing with the economic impact of the Russian war in Ukraine as well as climate disruptions like the floods overwhelming Pakistan. Mistrust between India and Pakistan, full members since 2017, make cooperation difficult on the SCO’s original core mission of counterterrorism. And India and China, which were building toward the “Wuhan spirit” of cooperation when India joined in 2017, are hardly on speaking terms despite recent progress toward deescalating a friction point along their disputed Line of Actual Control.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Misreading Biden in Beijing: Perception is Everything in U.S.-China Relations

Misreading Biden in Beijing: Perception is Everything in U.S.-China Relations

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Alison McFarland;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.

Beijing’s strong reaction to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taiwan highlights how the island has become ground zero in major power competition, with U.S.-China relations at their lowest point in decades. Indeed, the Taiwan Strait is now the most plausible locale for a military confrontation between the United States and China. Most alarmingly, Beijing and Washington are prone to misread the signals of the other, especially where Taiwan is concerned. Misinterpreting rhetoric or actions can be extremely dangerous because it can trigger action-reaction cycles that can spiral into unintended escalation and unwanted conflict.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

US-China Signaling, Action-Reaction Dynamics, and Taiwan: A Preliminary Examination

US-China Signaling, Action-Reaction Dynamics, and Taiwan: A Preliminary Examination

Monday, September 12, 2022

By: Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.;  Shao Yuqun;  Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Wu Chunsi;  Alison McFarland;  Ji Yixin

The United States and China have found it challenging in recent years to interpret one another’s foreign policy signals vis-à-vis Taiwan. Misinterpretation of the signaling may contribute to a cycle of actions and reactions that can inadvertently elevate bilateral tensions to the point of crisis or even war in the Taiwan Strait. This report, co-authored by three USIP experts and three experts from China’s Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, examines the challenges to clear and unambiguous US-China communications over Taiwan and provides preliminary recommendations for overcoming them.

Type: Report

Global Policy

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