Quantifying the Chinese government’s reach and influence

Explore Beijing's Public Diplomacy

A map of the EAP region

East Asia and Pacific

Influencing the Narrative: How China mobilizes students and media to burnish its image
A map of the SCA region

South and Central Asia

Silk Road Diplomacy: Deconstructing Beijing's toolkit to influence its greater periphery
The China PD dashboard

China's Public Diplomacy Dashboard

Explore the data on Beijing's financial, cultural, exchange, elite-to-elite, and informational diplomacy activities


New evidence on Beijing's public diplomacy programs in two key regions

In June 2018, AidData, in partnership with the China Power Project at CSIS and the Asia Society Policy Institute, released Ties That Bind, the first effort to systematically quantify four key dimensions of Chinese public diplomacy (financial, cultural, elite-to-elite, and exchange activities) across 25 countries in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region from 2000 to 2016. The report broke new ground to quantifiably measure a much broader range of activities than had been previously attempted, while informing and inciting discussion of China’s growing public diplomacy footprint in the EAP region and its effects.

One year later, AidData in December 2019 published new data and analysis capturing the results of China’s public diplomacy push in 13 countries of another region key to its strategic interests: South and Central Asia. Silk Road Diplomacy quantifies how these efforts are received by foreign publics and leaders to determine whether it is meeting Beijing’s objectives, including new numbers on China’s total financial diplomacy in the region for 2000 to 2017. Building on Ties That Bind, a second report, Influencing the Narrative, explores how China mobilizes students and media to promote its preferred narrative in the EAP region. Enabling readers to dive even deeper into the data, a new interactive dashboard on China's public diplomacy activities has also been launched, containing information from both reports focused on East Asia and the Pacific.

Featured Publications

Policy Brief

China’s influence in South and Central Asia: Competition in the Indian Ocean and China’s engagement with Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Samantha Custer


Policy Report

Corridors of Power: How Beijing uses economic, social, and network ties to exert influence along the Silk Road

Samantha Custer, Justin Schon, Ana Horigoshi, Divya Mathew, Bryan Burgess, Vera Choo, Amber Hutchinson, Austin Baehr, Kelsey Marshall


Policy Report

Silk Road Diplomacy: Deconstructing Beijing's toolkit to influence South and Central Asia

Samantha Custer, Tanya Sethi, Jonathan A. Solis, Joyce Jiahui Lin, Siddhartha Ghose, Anubhav Gupta, Rodney Knight, Austin Baehr


Policy Report

Influencing the Narrative: How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image

Samantha Custer, Mihir Prakash, Jonathan A. Solis, Rodney Knight, Joyce Jiahui Lin


Policy Report

Ties That Bind: Quantifying China's public diplomacy and its "good neighbor" effect

Samantha Custer, Brooke Russell, Matthew DiLorenzo, Mengfan Cheng, Siddhartha Ghose, Jacob Sims, Jennifer Turner, Harsh Desai


Program Team

For technical or research inquires, contact:

Policy Analysis

Samantha Custer

Director of Policy Analysis

Policy Analysis

Ana Horigoshi

Senior Research Analyst

Policy Analysis

Jonathan A. Solis

Senior Research Analyst

Policy Analysis

Austin Baehr

Senior Program Manager

Policy Analysis

Brook Lautenslager

Deputy Director for Data Analytics and Technology Solutions

Policy Analysis

Divya Mathew

Senior Policy Specialist

Policy Analysis

Emily Dumont

Senior Program Manager

Policy Analysis

Vera Choo

Junior Data Analyst


Gates Foundation

Alex Wooley

Director of Partnerships and Communications