About the Project

There is a broad consensus in Washington that the United States has entered a new stage of intense strategic competition with China and that policymakers need to develop a comprehensive strategy that supports U.S. interests. But a grand strategy towards China can only be effective and enduring if it reflects the views of various stakeholders in the U.S.-China relationship.

CSIS surveyed the U.S. public, U.S. thought leaders, and U.S. allies and partners to map the areas where stakeholders are willing to compete with China strategically and to cooperate with China in areas of common concern. This project website presents key findings on the strategic landscape spanning national security, economic, and human rights issues; interactive data visualization tools that illuminate key findings and trend lines; and conclusions on the implications for U.S. policy.

Survey Methodology

CSIS worked with Polity Research Consulting LLC to design and field surveys of the U.S. public, U.S. thought leaders, and thought leaders in Asia and Europe, respectively.

Public Opinion Survey

The public opinion survey was conducted online among a panel sample of 1,000 U.S. adults. The sample was designed to be representative of the noninstitutionalized adult population of the United States. Quotas were set for the following demographic characteristics: gender, age, income, political party, and region. Additional demographic variables in the survey were: ethnicity, education, and political ideology. The margin of error for the full sample is ± 3.1% at the midrange of the 95% confidence interval. That is, when conducting 100 similar studies, 95 of them will yield results that fall—at worst—3.1 points on either side of a given percentage. This survey was conducted from July 31 to August 2, 2020.

Thought Leader Surveys

CSIS also targeted thought leaders in the United States and across Asia and Europe. CSIS worked with a dozen national organizations and associations in the United States to identify thought leaders in their fields who are influential in the debate on international and/or Asian regional affairs. The surveys required a significant level of expertise on a range of policy issues, but the use of online templates allowed for completion in 10 minutes or less.

The survey of U.S. thought leaders yielded 440 responses from a total sample of 2,713 that included experts in national security; economics and business; human rights and democracy; civil society, education, and the arts; and congressional/local government staff. This survey was conducted from August 4 to August 31, 2020. The breakdown of respondents is as follows:

Thought Leader FieldParticipants
National Security125
Humans Rights/Democracy49
Civil Society/Education/Arts166
Congressional Staff/Local Government29

The survey of thought leaders in Asia and Europe yielded 409 responses from a total sample of 1,967 experts on international and Asian affairs. This survey was conducted from August 3 to August 31, 2020. The breakdown of participants is as follows:

New Zealand17
The Philippines18
South Korea54
United Kingdom10

CSIS has conducted three other survey projects that examined the views of thought leaders on different aspects of U.S. strategy in Asia, and it is important to recognize the advantages and limitations of these kinds of survey samples (Power, Norms, and Institutions: The Future of the Indo-Pacific from a Southeast Asia Perspective; Power and Order in Asia: A Survey of Regional Expectations; and Strategic Views on Asian Regionalism: Survey Results and Analysis). The respondents are influential individuals who have studied and written on the subjects in the surveys, and many have held senior positions in their respective governments with responsibility for policy. Therefore, the 849 responses allow for a well-informed comparison of strategic thinking across the United States, Asia, and Europe on questions related to China. However, the selection of thought leaders is necessarily subjective, and the number of responses varied from nation to nation. In addition, these samples do not necessarily reflect the full range of thought leader views. While derived from a carefully constructed survey and methodological approach, these thought leader surveys are impressionistic rather than scientific or determinative and cannot be compared to larger public opinion surveys in terms of precision or margin of error. Despite these limitations, the project team is confident the results provide indicators of alignment on several issues and point to possible contours of an enduring strategy on China.

In order to provide greater context for the thought leader results, the CSIS team conducted focus group discussions on the data with leaders of those national organizations and associations that assisted with the initial identification of possible survey respondents. Those expert insights from the focus groups are included in the CSIS analysis without attribution to specific individuals or organizations.

Team + Contributors

Project Director

Michael J. Green

Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair; Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University

Project Team

Jude Blanchette

Freeman Chair in China Studies

Bonnie Glaser

Senior Adviser for Asia and Director, China Power Project

Hannah Fodale

Research Assistant, Japan Chair

Matthew Funaiole

Senior Fellow, China Power Project and Senior Fellow for Data Analysis, iDeas Lab

Scott Kennedy

Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics

Louis Lauter

Vice President for Congressional and Government Affairs

Nicholas Szechenyi

Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Japan Chair

The project team would like to thank Ernest Paicopolos, founder and CEO of Polity Research Consulting, for his expert advice as well as the following CSIS scholars and staff for their assistance with the design, implementation, and analysis of the survey: Jeff Benson, Patrick Buchan, Victor Cha, Cassidy Charles, Jane Cox, Craig Cohen, Ali Corwin, Heather Conley, Melissa Dalton, Jada Fraser, Matthew Goodman, Christina Hamm, Kathleen Hicks, Jeeah Lee, Greg Poling, William Reinsch, Richard Rossow, Jacque Schrag, Andrew Schwartz, and Stephanie Segal.

Development and Design

This digital feature is a product of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos iDeas Lab, the in-house digital, multimedia, and design agency at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Produced by: Matthew P. Funaiole, Christina Hamm, Tucker Harris, Pavak Patel, Jacque Schrag, William Taylor


CSIS also wishes to thank the following organizations for helping the project team identify experts in their areas of expertise and/or interpret the survey results in focus group discussions: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Luce Foundation, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, the Economic Policy Institute, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, the Institute of International Finance, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. CSIS also wishes to thank those national associations and organizations that assisted with identifying survey respondents in their fields but preferred to remain anonymous. As a CSIS product, this report does not necessarily reflect the positions or opinions of those partners, though the project team benefited from their insights.


This project was funded internally by the CSIS Strategic Initiatives Fund.

Full Survey Results

Access data from all three surveys here.