October 19, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Shortlist: Young China Watcher of the Year Award

Featuring Abigail Grace

Source: Young China Watchers

After reviewing dozens of candidates for our first annual Young China Watcher of the Year Award, our nomination committee narrowed the list of highly qualified individuals down to five. These outstanding nominees represent a wide variety of China-related fields: they work (or have worked) in journalism, academia, government, nonprofit, and think tanks. They live across the world and have spent a significant amount of time living in or studying China to help a broader audience understand what are often complex or opaque topics.

This year’s shortlist consists of:

  • Joanna Chiu—Deputy Managing Editor, Star Vancouver
  • Abigail Grace—Research Associate, CNAS
  • Samantha Hoffman—Visiting Academic Fellow, MERICS
  • Oma Lee—Fellow, Center for US-China Relations, Asia Society
  • Matt Sheehan—Nonresident Fellow, Paulson Institute

Abigail started her career with a two-year stint as a member of the U.S. National Security Council staff focused on China policy. She then moved to her current position at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she writes about China’s foreign policy as well as U.S.-China trade policy. Recently, she co-authored a major report on U.S. responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

YCW: What excites you about your current work?

AG: Undoubtedly, China’s perception of itself as a global actor is shifting in ways that are not yet entirely clear. The opacity of China’s information environment and its own complex internal dynamics also provide rich material for analysis. Sometimes, when researching one discrete question, there are multiple “truths” or “answers,” which at times seem contradictory. For me, this means that every day is a new challenge where nothing is certain, and I’m pushed to think in different ways.

YCW: To whom do you turn to help you understand your area of expertise?

AG: I’m fortunate that I’ve had phenomenal mentors and distinguished “China-watchers” that both imparted their knowledge to me and constantly challenged my own preconceived notions. I also find that my writing that I am most proud of is inspired by research travel and interactions with PRC scholars studying the same issue sets that I am, but from their own vantage point.

To learn more, visit Young China Watchers.


  • Abigail Grace

    Former Research Associate, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Abigail Grace is a former Research Associate in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for New American Security (CNAS). Her work focused on U.S. strategic competitio...