Phillip C. Saunders, PhD

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

Phil SaundersPhone: 202-685-2335

Dr. Phillip C. Saunders has worked on China and Asia issues at National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) since January 2004.  He served as Director of Studies for the Center for Strategic Research from 2010-12, with responsibility for supervising the center’s research on regional, global, and functional issues.  Dr. Saunders previously worked at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he was Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program from 1999-2003, and served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1989-1994.  He has conducted research and consulted on East Asian security issues for the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Council on Foreign Relations, RAND, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.  His areas of expertise include Chinese Foreign Policy and Security, East Asian Security, International Economics, and Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

Dr. Saunders graduated from Harvard College in 1988 with a summa cum laude degree in History and holds M.P.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.  He is co-author with former acting Director of National Intelligence David Gompert of The Paradox of Power: Sino-American Strategic Restraint in an Era of Vulnerability and has edited books on cross-Strait relations, the Chinese Navy, and the Chinese Air Force.  He is also co-editor of a forthcoming book on the PLA role in national security decision-making.  Dr. Saunders has lectured extensively at leading academic and policy institutions in the United States, Europe, and throughout Asia.


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.