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

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

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

Blinken lays out three-part U.S. approach to China. But what’s missing?

Blinken lays out three-part U.S. approach to China. But what’s missing?

Thursday, June 2, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a long-awaited speech last week outlining the administration’s China strategy. His remarks detailed a tough approach to China that nevertheless left the door open to diplomacy between the two countries on issues of common interest. Blinken described China as the “most serious long-term challenge to the international order” but still “integral to the global economy and to our ability to solve challenges from climate to COVID.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

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