Over the last two decades, China has expanded its presence internationally, including in conflict zones and fragile states of strategic interest to the United States. From civil wars in neighboring countries, such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, to more distant conflicts in Africa, China’s growing influence has a substantial impact on local, regional, and international conflict dynamics. Beijing is actively working to revise global governance institutions and norms to make them compatible with its authoritarian political model, and escalating tensions between the United States and China have reduced the space for cooperation and increased the risk of conflict between the two countries. Updating institutions and systems for cooperation among the United States and like-minded partners, and where possible, with competitors like China, could help stabilize the international system, manage conflicts, and tackle transnational challenges such as nuclear proliferation, climate change, and infectious diseases.

USIP’S Work

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA)
As part of its Bipartisan Congressional Dialogue series, USIP frequently hosts members of Congress from both parties to discuss issues such as U.S. policy toward China and China’s impact on U.S. national interests. USIP has twice hosted conversations with Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), co-chairs of the House U.S.-China Working Group.

By leading policy dialogues, producing rigorous research, engaging local actors, and convening expert working groups, USIP provides evidence-based analysis of China’s activities and influence on conflict dynamics around the world. USIP also assesses the impact of China’s policies and behavior on efforts to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict, and provides recommendations for ways the United States government and other key stakeholders can account for these dynamics in their work to support lasting peace. Recent activities have focused on China’s role in—and relations with—Burma, North Korea, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as countries throughout Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Latin America, the Red Sea arena, and several African states.

Convening High-Level Policy Dialogues

USIP brings together senior officials and other leading experts from the United States, China, and around the world to discuss China’s growing influence on international peace and security issues. In these private and ongoing discussions, some of which have been underway for more than a decade, key stakeholders gain a forum to share candid views and explore new policy ideas in an unofficial setting. For example, USIP facilitates a range of discussions that allow U.S., Chinese, and third-country experts to share views and explore new strategies for managing conflict and competition. The USIP China program is also building out a dialogue series designed to advance strategic stability and prevent conflict between Washington and Beijing.

Producing Independent Research and Analysis

USIP supports and conducts research and analysis that examines China’s effect on peace and conflict dynamics around the world. Recent projects have assessed China’s bilateral and multilateral diplomacy in key states and regions, as well as China’s growing participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations. The Institute also supports research on the execution and impact of China’s major investment projects in conflict-affected areas, including the Belt and Road Initiative and its components, and Beijing’s evolving approaches to negotiation processes, development and humanitarian assistance, public health diplomacy, peacekeeping, and post-conflict reconstruction. Additional topics include promoting stability among major powers and conflict prevention, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

Working with Local Partners to Advance Strategies to Prevent Conflict and Manage Competition

USIP convenes and supports partners from around the world to identify creative and concrete actions that the United States, China, and other key players might take to reduce violence and increase transparency around China’s overseas engagement. By partnering with scholars and practitioners to share their respective insights, experiences, and expertise, USIP helps policymakers and other key stakeholders around the world do their work more effectively.

Leading Senior Study Groups on China’s Impact on Conflict Dynamics

USIP leads a series of bipartisan, expert-level working groups made up of senior scholars and practitioners that examine China’s role in specific conflicts around the world. These reports offer new insights into China’s presence and impact in various countries and regions, such as Burma, North Korea, the Red Sea arena, and South Asia and generate recommendations for ways the U.S. government and other key stakeholders may account for China’s activities in their work to prevent and resolve conflict and support lasting peace.

map of china conflict zones

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