China-US Competition: Measuring Global Influence

July 2021 No Comments

Speaker(s): Moyer, J. (University of Denver); Meisel, C. (University of Denver); Burrows, M. (Atlantic Council)

Date: 3 August 2021

Speaker Session Summary

SMA hosted a speaker session with Dr. Jonathan Moyer (University of Denver), Mr. Collin Meisel (University of Denver), and Mr. Mathew Burrows (Atlantic Council) as part of its SMA General Speaker Series. 

Measuring a country’s power has traditionally been done by primarily comparing the military strength of countries on a country level basis. However, Dr. Moyer stated that measuring a country’s true power is more nuanced and should include factors such as its ability to conduct trade and provide foreign aid. Also, the measure of a country’s power relative to another’s should be a bilateral measurement, which relies on quantifiable data. Other important factors include a country’s political will to influence others and the balance in the relationship between countries—this is a dyadic relationship which is affected by a country’s bandwidth for communication and willingness to interact.

More than two million observations of bilateral relationships between states were examined to build the Formal Bilateral Influence Capacity (FBIC) Index. Mr. Meisel stated the FBIC Index shows that China has been successfully increasing its influence in Southeast Asia. The USG used to be the preeminent political influencer in this region, however, China is now competing for political influence in many states. Mr. Burrows argued that the USG can effectively compete with China’s growing political power in the region through trade agreements and relying on allies who have strong political power on their own. However, decision makers should use quantifiable data as a primary decision-making tool when deciding what actions should be taken.

Speaker Session Recording

Note: We are aware that many government IT providers have blocked access to YouTube from government machines during the pandemic in response to bandwidth limitations. We recommend viewing the recording on YouTube from a non-government computer or listening to the audio file (below), if you are in this position.

Briefing Materials



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