Ely Ratner is the Maurice R. Greenberg senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. His work focuses on U.S.-China relations, regional security in East Asia, and U.S. national security policy.

From 2015 to 2017, Ratner served as the deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, covering the global portfolio with particular focus on Asia and China policy, the South China Sea, North Korea, and U.S. alliances in Asia. From 2011 to 2012, while a CFR international affairs fellow, he served in the office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the State Department covering China’s external relations in Asia. He also previously worked in the U.S. Senate on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in the office of Senator Joe Biden. Outside of government, Ratner has worked as a senior fellow and deputy director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and as an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation.

Ratner has testified before Congress and published widely on U.S.-China relations and U.S. national security strategy in Asia. His commentary and research have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Washington Quarterly, The National Interest, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Chinese Journal of International Politics.

Ratner received his BA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and his PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and children.

Last Updated: November 2, 2017

Conversation

11.02.17

Trump Goes to Asia

Ely Ratner, David Dollar & more
Chinese officials like to talk about practicing “win-win” diplomacy. Their American counterparts sometime joke that this means China wins twice. From November 3 to November 14, Donald Trump will visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines,...

Conversation

09.26.14

Should the U.S. Cooperate with China on Terrorism?

Richard Bernstein, Ely Ratner & more
Richard Bernstein: Of course, they should.  But can they?  Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in the United States, China has defined almost any dissent from its policies there as examples of international terrorism.  It...

Conversation

05.09.14

The China-Vietnam Standoff: How Will It End?

Daniel Kliman, Ely Ratner & more
Daniel Kliman:Five thousand miles from Ukraine, off the coast of Vietnam, China is taking a page from Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s playbook. Beijing’s recent placement of a huge oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea leverages...

Conversation

04.22.14

What Obama Should Say About China in Japan

Yuki Tatsumi, Ely Ratner & more
On Wednesday, Barack Obama will land in Tokyo beginning a week-long trip to four of China's neighbors—but not to China itself.In Obama’s stops in Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, and Kuala Lampur, the specter of China will loom large. This will be...

Conversation

04.12.14

China, Japan, and the U.S.—Will Cooler Heads Prevail?

Ely Ratner, Hugh White & more
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's whirlwind tour of China this week saw a tense exchange with his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan, over the intention behind America's "pivot" to Asia, followed by a more measured back-and...

Conversation

01.21.14

Time to Escalate? Should the U.S. Make China Uncomfortable?

Edward Friedman, Geoff Dyer & more
How should the United States respond to China’s new level of assertiveness in the Asia Pacific? In the past few months as Beijing has stepped up territorial claims around China's maritime borders—and in the skies above them—the Obama...

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