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Carla P. Freeman

Associate Research Professor of China Studies

Executive Director of the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute


Carla Freeman directs the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute and is concurrently associate research professor in China Studies. She conducts research on Chinese foreign and domestic policy with a current focus on regional dynamics, including China and its periphery, nontraditional security, and China's role in international organizations. Her career has included leadership as an Asian analyst for a political risk consultancy, directing the program in civil society and community sustainability at The Johnson Foundation, and various academic positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Beloit College, and Alverno College, where she chaired the global studies and international affairs program.

Professor Freeman received a PhD in International relations and Asian Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS, where she also completed a master's in international economics and China Studies. She completed her BA in history and Southeast Asian studies with honors at Yale University and earned a certificate in political studies with honors from Sciences Po in Paris and certificates in Chinese from Beijing Foreign Languages University and the Taipei Language Institute. Her current research is on China and the global commons, China’s foreign policy toward its neighbors, and China’s nontraditional security.

She is the Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Asian Perspective, published by Johns Hopkins University Press
“An Uncommon Approach to the Global Commons:
China's Divergent Positions on Maritime and Outer Space Governance," China Quarterly (Forthcoming, 2019).

“Assessing Prospects for Regional Cooperation in the China- India Neighborhood,” Contemporary Politics (December 2017 –online; 2018).
“China-Korea Relations,” in Weiping Wu, Mark Frazier et al., Research Handbook of Contemporary China, (Sage, 2018).
“New Strategies for an Old Rivalry: China and Russia in Central Asia after the Boom,” Pacific Review (November 2017).
“Dam Diplomacy: China’s Periphery Policy and Hydropolitics,” Water International, (1.19.2017; Issue 2).
What’s Next for Global Governance?,” with Gregory T. Chin, Global Policy, (November 2016).
“The Fragile Commons in a World in Transition,” The SAIS Review of International Affairs, (Vol. 36, Winter-Spring, 2016).
“Building an Energy Cooperation Regime in Northeast Asia.” in Bo Kong and Jae Ku (eds.), Energy Security Cooperation in Northeast Asia, “(Routledge, 2015).
“China as an Environmental Actor in the Developing World—China’s Role in Deforestation and the Timber Trade in Developing Countries.” with Sunny Yiqian Xu in C. Freeman (ed.). Handbook of China and Developing Countries (Edward Elgar, 2015).
“Making Sense of China’s Carbon Markets.” with Bo Kong, Carbon & Climate Law Review, (Vol. 3, 2013).
“From ‘Blood Transfusion’ to ‘Harmonious Development:’ The Political Economy of Fiscal Allocations to China’s Ethnic Regions.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, (January 2013).
“Neighborly Relations: The Tumen Development Project and China’s Security Strategy.” Journal of Contemporary China, (Vol. 19. 63, January 2010).
“Toward an Obama Grand Strategy-- Implications for US-China Relations,” China International Strategy Review, (2013; also published in Chinese).
Handbook of China and Developing Countries, (editor), (Edward Elgar Press, 2015; paperback edition, 2016)
China and North Korea: Strategic and Policy Perspectives from a Changing China, (editor), (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)    
International Relations of China (eight volume series, (editor with Shaun Breslin and Simon Shen). Lead editor:
Volume II: Making Foreign Policy; Volume VII: Global Governance; Volume VIII: China Challenges and Global Issues. (Sage, 2014).
China on the Edge: China’s Border Regions and Security Strategy, with Drew Thompson, (Center for the National
Interest and Johns Hopkins SAIS, April 2011).
Managing Fragile Regions: Method and Application, (co-editor, with Rongxing Guo) (Springer, 2010)



  • Asia
  • China
  • Korean Peninsula


  • Foreign Policy
  • Governance
  • International Political Economy
  • Security
  • Sustainable Development


  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French

In the News

The new Asia.

Carla Freeman wrote for Institute for Security and Development Policy, 02/28

China’s economic expansionism.

Carla Freeman, Kent E. Calder, David Lampton, Daniel Markey participated in Library of Congress webinar, 02/25

China and democracy.

Carla Freeman wrote for International Affairs Forum, 02/24

A bridge across the Pacific.

Carla Freeman quoted in Beijing Review, 10/09

Reading Kindleberger in Beijing: Xi Jinping’s China as a provider of global public goods

Carla Freeman wrote in British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9/11

U.S and China see progress on trade talks.

Carla Freeman interviewed on Bloomberg Markets and Finance, 8/25

Escalating U.S.-China tensions.

Carla Freeman interviewed on Bloomberg Markets and Finance, 8/18

U.S. and Taiwan tout 'democratic' effort on virus to China's chagrin.

Carla Freeman quoted in Nikkei Asian Review, 8/11

How Taiwan plays into U.S.-China relations.

Carla Freeman interviewed on Bloomberg Markets and Finance, 8/11