More than forty years after the normalization of relations between the United States and China, the relationship faces new and fundamental challenges with global implications. There is no ready template for a relationship between two great powers that are deeply interdependent, yet increasingly see one another as rivals and possibly adversaries. The need for original thinking, and new voices, is urgent.

The Penn Project on the Future of U.S.-China Relations meets this critical need by incubating and then amplifying recommendations on U.S. policies toward China from “next generation” China scholars and analysts, who are selected asProject Fellows” through a competitive process. To contribute academically-informed, policy-relevant analysis on the most pressing issues in U.S.-China relations, the Project focuses on six key issue areas: National Security; Trade & Competitiveness; Technology; Human Rights, Law, & Democracy; Climate & Environment; and Research, Education, & Academic Freedom.

The Project launched in January 2020 with its inaugural fellowship cohort, whose full policy papers are posted on the Project website. (These also were presented in summary form and on Project webinars). In June 2022, Project Fellows shared their findings and recommendations at a “China Bootcamp” for congressional staff, co-organized with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and held at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC. The Project held a plenary conference of its inaugural fellows on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in January 2023, and a workshop with Chinese counterparts in Beijing, co-organized with Tsinghua University’s Center for International Security and Strategy, in January 2024. The Project’s second fellowship cohort was announced in April 2024.

The Project is supported by generous grants from Penn’s China Research and Engagement Fund, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It benefits from ongoing advice and feedback from several eminent academics and practitioners convened as Senior Advisors. From January 2020 to October 2023, the Project was hosted by Penn’s Center for the Study of Contemporary China, and led by Jacques deLisle, Avery Goldstein, and Neysun Mahboubi. As of October 1, 2023 the Project is now hosted by Penn Global, and directed by Neysun Mahboubi.