Phillip C. Saunders, PhD

Distinguished Research Fellow
Director, Center for Study of Chinese Military Affairs
Areas of Expertise: China; Asia-Pacific Region; International Economics; Deterrence

Phil SaundersPhone: 202-685-2335

Dr. Saunders is Director of the Center for Study of Chinese Military Affairs. He has been a Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies since January 2004. He served as Director of Studies for the Center of Strategic Research from 2010 to March 2014

Dr. Saunders previously worked at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he served as Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program from 1999-2003 and taught courses on Chinese politics, Chinese foreign policy, and East Asian security. Dr. Saunders has conducted research and consulted on East Asian security issues for Princeton University and the Council on Foreign Relations and previously worked on Asia policy issues as an officer in the United States Air Force.

Dr. Saunders is co-author with David Gompert of The Paradox of Power: Sino-American Strategic Restraint in an Era of Vulnerability (NDU Press, 2011) and co-editor of books on China-Taiwan relations, the Chinese Navy, and the Chinese Air Force. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on China and Asian security issues in journals such as International Security, China Quarterly, The China Journal, Survival, Asian Survey, International Studies Quarterly, Pacific Review, Orbis, Asia Policy, and Joint Forces Quarterly.

Dr. Saunders attended Harvard College and received his MPA and Ph.D. in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.


Richard P. Hallion, Roger Cliff, and Phillip C. Saunders, eds., The Chinese Air Force: Evolving Concepts, Roles, and Capabilities (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 2012).

David C. Gompert and Phillip C. Saunders, The Paradox of Power: Sino-American Strategic Restraint in an Age of Vulnerability (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 2011).

Phillip C. Saunders, Christopher Yung, Michael Swaine, and Andrew Nien-Dzu Yang (eds.), The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 2011)

Roger Cliff, Phillip Saunders, and Scott Harold, eds., Cross-Strait Relations: New Opportunities and Challenges for Taiwan’s Security (Washington, DC: RAND, 2011).


Phillip C. Saunders, “The Rebalance to Asia: U.S.-China Relations and Regional Security,” INSS Strategic Forum, No. 281, August 2013.

Mark E. Redden and Phillip C. Saunders, “Managing Sino-U.S. Air and Naval Interactions: Cold War Lessons and New Avenues of Approach,” China Strategic Perspectives, No. 5, September 2012.

Scott L. Kastner and Phillip C. Saunders, “Is China a Status Quo or Revisionist State? Leadership Travel as an Empirical Indicator of Foreign Policy Priorities,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 56. No. 2 (June 2012), pp. 163-177.

David C. Gompert and Phillip C. Saunders, “Sino-American Strategic Restraint in an Age of Vulnerability,” INSS Strategic Forum, No. 273, January 2012.

Phillip C. Saunders and Joshua Wiseman, “Buy, Build, or Steal: China’s Quest for Advanced Military Aviation Technologies,” China Strategic Perspectives, No. 4, December 2011.

Michael Kiselycznyk and Phillip C. Saunders, Civil-Military Relations in China: Assessing the PLA’s Role in Elite Politics, China Strategic Perspectives, No. 2, August 2010.

Phillip C. Saunders and Michael Kiselycznyk, Assessing Chinese Military Transparency, China Strategic Perspectives, No. 1, June 2010.