Project Experts

The group of experts participating in the Mapping China’s Strategic Space project embodies NBR’s global network of experts model. The Steering Committee offers intellectual guidance to the overall project and individual contributions. Authors and participants reflect the project’s interdisciplinary approach, grounded in academic rigor.

Principal Investigator

Nadège Rolland is Distinguished Fellow, China Studies, at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), an American private think-tank based in Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Her research focuses mainly on China’s foreign and defense policy, grand strategy, and the articulation of China’s vision for itself as a great power on the world stage.

Her 2017 book China’s Eurasian Century? Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative is the first Western analysis to examine the strategic thought and drivers behind the BRI, based on Chinese language sources. She also authored “China’s Vision for a New World Order” (2020), and edited several multi-authored volumes, including “Securing the Belt and Road Initiative: China’s Evolving Military Engagement Along the Silk Roads” (2019), “An Emerging China-Centric Order: China’s Vision for a New World Order in Practice” (2020).

Her most recent project examines where the African continent fits in relation to China’s overall strategic vision and identifies the main instruments used by Beijing to achieve its objectives. “A New Great Game? Situating Africa in China’s Strategic Thinking,” published in June 2021, is the first of a series of reports she edited: “(In)Roads and Outposts: Critical Infrastructure in China’s Africa Strategy” (2022) and “Political Front Lines: China’s Pursuit of Influence in Africa” (2022).

Her articles and essays have appeared in a number of international publications, newspapers, and academic journals.

Prior to joining the NBR, Rolland served for two decades as an analyst and Senior Advisor on Asian and Chinese strategic issues to the French Ministry of Defense, for which she has been awarded the Medal of Honor.

She holds a MA in China studies (summa cum laude) from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations and a MSc in strategic studies (summa cum laude) from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. She is also a National Taiwan Normal University alumna.

Steering Committee

Jacqueline Deal is President of the Long Term Strategy Group (LTSG), a defense consultancy, and Co-Founder of the American Academy for Strategic Education (AASE), which teaches courses on net assessment to US and allied national-security professionals. Her research focuses on the new Cold War between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. She has written and testified about the Chinese Communist Party’s history, military build-up, and economic warfare. Her work has been published in the National Interest, the New York Times, Politico, and a range of other outlets and journals. Deal received her AB (summa cum laude) from Harvard University, and her MPhil and DPhil from Oxford University. She is a Contributing Editor to the Army War College journal Parameters, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and an Advisory Board member of the Alexander Hamilton Society and the Vandenberg Coalition.

Aaron Friedberg is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1987, and co-director of Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a counselor to the National Bureau of Asian Research. From 2003 to 2005 he served as a Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs in the office of the Vice President and he was subsequently appointed to the Defense Policy Board. In 2000-2001 he was a member of a panel tasked by Congress with reviewing the CIA’s analysis of China. He has conducted studies for a number of government agencies, including the Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.

Friedberg is the author of several books, including A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia (2011), Beyond Air-Sea Battle: The Debate Over U.S. Military Strategy in Asia (2014), and Getting China Wrong (2022). Dr. Friedberg received his AB, MA and PhD degrees from Harvard University.

Christopher R. Hughes

is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he also served as Director of the Asia Research Centre from 2002 to 2005. His PhD (from the LSE) was on the topic Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society and was awarded the British International Studies Association best thesis of the year prize for 1995. He teaches specialist courses in the International Politics of the Asia Pacific, Chinese Foreign and Security Policy and Foreign Policy Analysis. 

His research focuses on the Asia-Pacific with special reference to Chinese foreign policy and politics, with monographs on East Asians in the League of Nations: Actors, Empires and Regions in Early Global Politics (edited with Hatsue Shinohara, Macmillan 2023), Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism (Routledge 1997), China and the Internet: Politics of the Digital Leap Forward (edited with Gudrun Wacker, Routledge 2003) and Chinese Nationalism in the Global Era (Routledge 2006). He has various articles on Chinese politics and foreign policy, the international politics of the Asia Pacific, international relations theory and foreign policy in leading academic journals. 

Workshop Contributors

Learning from History

Kelley Currie served as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and the U.S. Representative at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Prior to her appointment, she led the Department of State’s Office of Global Criminal Justice (2019) and served under Ambassador Nikki Haley as the United States’ Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council and Alternative Representative to the UN General Assembly (2017–2018). Throughout her career in foreign policy, Ambassador Currie has specialized in human rights, political reform, development, and humanitarian issues, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. She has held senior policy positions with the Department of State, the U.S. Congress, and several international and nongovernmental human rights and humanitarian organizations. Ambassador Currie received a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center, and an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Alexis Dudden is a Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches modern Japanese, Korean, and international history. She publishes regularly in print and online media and is completing a book project called The Opening and Closing of Japan, 1850–2020. She has lived and studied for extended periods of time in Japan and South Korea and has also held fellowships at Princeton and Harvard. During the 2016–17 academic year, Dudden was awarded the Fulbright program’s US-ROK Alliance Visiting Professorship at Yonsei University. Dudden received her BA from Columbia University and her PhD in history from the University of Chicago.

Jakub Grygiel is a Professor at the Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.). In 2017-2018 he was a Senior Advisor in the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and on the faculty of SAIS-Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Return of the Barbarians (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Great Powers and Geopolitical Change (JHU Press, 2006), and co-author with Wess Mitchell of The Unquiet Frontier (Princeton University Press, 2016). He earned a PhD, MA, and an MPA from Princeton University, and a BSFS from Georgetown University.

Bill Hayton is the Editor of the academic journal Asian Affairs, an associate fellow with the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House, a former BBC journalist and the author of four books on Asia. He was the BBC’s reporter in Vietnam in 2006–7 and was seconded to the public broadcaster in Myanmar in 2013–2014. Dr. Hayton is the author of The Invention of China (2020), The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia (2014), Vietnam: Rising Dragon (2010, second edition 2020) and A Brief History of Vietnam (Tuttle, 2022) and numerous articles on Asian issues. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge for work on the history and development of South China Sea disputes.

Jeffrey Mankoff is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the U.S. National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies and a Non-Resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). His research focuses on Russian foreign policy, Eurasian geopolitics, and the role of history and memory in international relations. He is the author of the books Empires of Eurasia: How Imperial Legacies Shape International Security (Yale, 2022) and Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009, 2012). Dr. Mankoff was previously a Senior Fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at CSIS and served as an adviser on U.S.-Russia relations at the U.S. Department of State as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow. Dr. Mankoff received undergraduate degrees in international studies and Russian from the University of Oklahoma, and an MA, MPhil, and PhD in diplomatic history from Yale University.

Covell Meyskens is an Associate Professor of Chinese History at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. His research examines the geopolitical, socioeconomic, and environmental dimensions of national security and economic development in modern Chinese history. He is the author of Mao’s Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China, published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. He is currently working on his second book, The Three Gorges Dam: Building a Developmental Engine for China and the World. His work has been published in Cold War History, Twentieth Century China, Nonproliferation Review, Foreign Policy, positions: asia critique, Journal of Modern Chinese History, and the New York Times. 

James A. Millward is Professor of Inter-societal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, teaching Chinese, Central Asian, and world history. He also teaches in the program of the Máster Oficial en Estudios de Asia Oriental at the University of Granada, Spain. His specialties include the Qing empire, the silk road, Eurasian lutes and music in history, and historical and contemporary Xinjiang. He is series editor for the Silk Roads book series published by Chicago University Press. His publications include Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang ( 2007 and 2021), The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (2013), New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde (2004), and Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in Qing Central Asia (1998). 

Woodruff Smith is Professor Emeritus of History of University of Massachusetts’s, Boston.  He is the author of seven books and numerous articles on topics in the history of imperialism, German history, the history of social and cultural science, African history, economic and cultural history, and the history of higher education. He has held National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and American Philosophical Society fellowships.

Stephen Wertheim is a Senior Fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a lecturer at Yale Law School and Catholic University. He is a historian of U.S. foreign policy and an analyst of contemporary problems in American grand strategy. Wertheim is the author ofTomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy (Harvard University Press, 2020). He has published scholarly research on a range of subjects in U.S. foreign policy since the late nineteenth century, including humanitarian intervention, international law, international organization, colonial empire, and public opinion. Before joining Carnegie, Wertheim was Director of Grand Strategy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank he co-founded in 2019. He received a PhD from Columbia University and an AB summa cum laudefrom Harvard University.


Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova is Head of the Political Science PhD programme and China Studies Centre at Riga Stradins University, Head of the Asia Programme at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, and a member of the China in Europe Network (CHERN) and the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC). She has held fellowships at Fudan University and Stanford University and is affiliated with King’s College London and the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS). She is the author of Perfect Imbalance: China and Russia (2022). She received her PhD from Riga Stradins University.

Bernard D. Cole is an expert on Sino-U.S. relations and maritime strategy. He is Professor Emeritus at the U.S. National War College in Washington, D.C., and previously served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years as a surface warfare officer.

Gabriel Collins is the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs at the Center for Energy Studies and a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. He co-heads the Center for Energy Studies’ Energy and Geopolitics in Eurasia Program.

Peter Connolly recently completed his PhD at Australian National University, where his research focused on Chinese interests in Melanesia between 2014 and 2022. Prior to academia, he served for 33-years as an infantry officer in the Australian Army, with active service in Somalia, Timor-Leste, and Afghanistan, commanding from platoon through to battalion level. He led interdisciplinary teams in planning, analysis, contestability, and international engagement in the Department of Defence, the U.S. Joint Staff, and on coalition operations. He has worked in Parliament House, Sandhurst, and the Pentagon, completing his service as Director of International Engagement – Army, and then Director of the Australian Army Research Centre. He advises on the Pacific in the Australian Department of Defence and is an Adjunct Fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. 

Kelley Currie served as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and the U.S. Representative at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Prior to her appointment, she led the Department of State’s Office of Global Criminal Justice (2019) and served under Ambassador Nikki Haley as the United States’ Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council and Alternative Representative to the UN General Assembly (2017–2018).

Khyle Eastin is a Senior Intelligence Analyst at CrowdStrike, where he focuses on China and foreign and defense affairs in Asia. He is also a co-founder of the National Association for Black Engagement with Asia (NABEA). His professional and academic interest areas include China-related national security, foreign policy, and technology affairs, with a specific focus on China’s space sector. Prior to these roles, Khyle served as a Peace Corps volunteer in China from 2016-2018. He has also studied in the Middle East (Amman and Jerusalem). Khyle holds an MA in Asian studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a BA in International Relations from Pomona College. Khyle is a 2023 NBR Nonresident Fellow and Aspen Security Group Rising Leader. He is from Minneapolis, MN and lives in Washington, D.C. 

Andrew S. Erickson is Professor of Strategy and the Research Director in the U.S. Naval War College (NWC)’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI). A core founding member, he helped establish CMSI and stand it up officially in 2006 and has played an integral role in its development. CMSI inspired the creation of other research centers, which he has advised and supported; he is a China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI) Associate. Erickson also serves on the editorial boards of Naval War College Review and Asia Policy.

Nadine Godehardt is the Deputy Head of the Research Division Asia at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP) in Berlin. She frequently travels to Asia and has worked extensively on China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as China’s role in Central Asia, and connectivity politics.

Timothy R. Heath is a Senior International Defense Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Prior to joining RAND, he spent over fifteen years in the U.S. government researching and analyzing military and political topics related to China. In addition to his publications with the RAND Corporation, Dr. Heath has published numerous articles and one book. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, he has extensive experience analyzing China’s national strategy, politics, ideology, and military, as well as Asian regional security developments. He has a PhD in political science from George Mason University and an MA in Asian studies from the George Washington University. 

April A. Herlevi is a Nonresident Fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Elliot S. Ji is a PhD Candidate at Department of Politics, Princeton University.

Aleksandra Kubat is a Lecturer in China Studies at the Lau China Institute, King’s College London, where she currently teaches on China and globalization and the domestic sources of Chinese foreign policy. Her research focuses on organizational adaptation of party bureaucracy and the use of wargaming for teaching on Chinese policy processes. She received her PhD from the Lau China Institute, King’s College London.

Joshua Muldavin is a Professor of Human Geography at Sarah Lawrence College. He has a long and distinguished record as a researcher and teacher focusing on globalization, China, Japan, and Asia, as well as rural development, international aid, agriculture and food, climate change, political economy, and political ecology. He received his BS, MA, and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Camilla T. N. Sørensen is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Strategy and War Studies at the Royal Danish Defense College (RDDC). Her research fields include Geopolitics, Security Studies and Strategy with a specific focus on China, East Asia and the Arctic. Dr. Sørensen has lived in China for shorter and longer periods over the past 20 years and has published extensively on East Asian security, Chinese foreign and security policy and in recent years on Arctic politics and security with a focus on China. 

National Bureau of Asian Research Staff

Rachel Bernstein, former Assistant Director, Political and Security Affairs

Alayna Bone, Intern, Political and Security Affairs

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Karolos Karnikis, Senior Vice President, Information Management and Technology

Jaymi McNabb, former Intern, Political and Security Affairs

Miles Monaco, Project Manager, Political and Security Affairs

Aruna Muthupillai, former Intern, Political and Security Affairs

Sandra Ward, Director, Communications and Brand Development