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  • Damien Ma

Damien Ma

Damien Ma is a Fellow at The Paulson Institute, where he focuses on investment and policy programs and the Institute’s research and think tank activities. He is the co-author of In Line Behind a Billion People: How Scarcity Will Define China’s Ascent in the Next Decade.

Previously, he was a lead China analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk research and advisory firm. He specialized in analyzing the intersection between Chinese policies and markets, with a particular focus on energy and commodities, industrial policy, U.S.-China trade, and social and internet policies. His advisory and analytical work served a range of clients, from institutional investors and multinational corporations to the U.S. government. Prior to joining Eurasia Group, he worked at a public relations firm in Beijing, where he served clients ranging from Ford to Microsoft. He also was a manager of publications at the U.S.-China Business Council in Washington, D.C.

Ma writes regularly for The Atlantic and publishes widely, including in Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, and Foreign Policy, as well as appearing in a range of broadcast media, such as the Charlie Rose show, Bloomberg, and the PBS NewsHour. He also served as an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Ma is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and some Shanghainese dialect.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015

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Contributions by Damien Ma

Conversation

07.20.16

How Should the Republican Party Approach China Policy?

Peter Navarro, Patrick Chovanec & more
On Tuesday, delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, chose Donald J. Trump as their nominee for President of the United States. We asked a range of contributors how the Republican Party should approach China policy.

Conversation

07.29.15

Can Xi Jinping Turn China’s Economy Around?

Arthur R. Kroeber, George Chen & more
On Monday, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 8.5 percent, erasing all of the gains it had made in an extraordinary run-up this year. The drop was the second 8.5 percent drop in recent weeks. The first such drop (the occasion for the Conversation...

Sinica Podcast

11.14.14

Behind the Curtain at APEC

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
With tensions between the West and Russia running high over Ukraine, China and Japan still wrangling over the Diaoyu islands, and America and China fighting over pretty much the same old petty stuff, it's easy to be cynical about APEC. But this...

Conversation

10.14.14

Will Asia Bank on China?

Zha Daojiong, Damien Ma & more
Last week The New York Times reported U.S. opposition to China's plans to launch a regional development bank to rival the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. If, as some say, the the launch is a fait accompli, should Washington focus...

Conversation

04.30.14

Will China’s Economy Be #1 by Dec. 31? (And Does it Matter?)

William Adams, Damien Ma & more
On April 30, data released by the United Nations International Comparison Program showed China’s estimated 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rate was twenty percent higher than was estimated in 2005. What does this mean? China's...

Sinica Podcast

03.01.14

In Line Behind a Billion People

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Damien Ma, author of In Line Behind a Billion People, a new book for China-watchers looking at how China’s lack of affordable housing, its food and air pollution, and the country’s poor education...

Books

10.28.13

In Line Behind a Billion People

Damien Ma, William Adams
Nearly everything you know about China is wrong! Yes, within a decade, China will have the world’s largest economy. But that is the least important thing to know about China. In this enlightening book, two of the world’s leading China experts turn the conventional wisdom on its head, showing why China’s economic growth will constrain rather than empower it. Pioneering political analyst Damien Ma and global economist Bill Adams reveal why, having thirty-five years of ferocious economic growth, China’s future will be shaped by the same fundamental reality that has shaped it for millennia: scarcity.{node, 4231}Ma and Adams drill deep into Chinese society, illuminating all the scarcities that will limit its power and progress. Beyond scarcities of natural resources and public goods, they illuminate China’s persistent poverties of individual freedoms, cultural appeal, and ideological legitimacy—and the corrosive loss of values and beliefs amongst a growing middle class shackled by a parochial and inflexible political system. Everyone knows “the 21st century is China’s to lose”—but, as with so many things that “everyone knows,” that’s just wrong. Ma and Adams get beyond cheerleading and fearmongering to tell the complex truth about China today. This is a truth you need to hear—whether you’re an investor, business decision-maker, policymaker, or citizen. —Pearson{chop}

Viewpoint

10.28.13

Stark Choices for China’s Leaders

Damien Ma & William Adams
One Beijing morning in early November 2012, seven men in dark suits strode onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People. China’s newly elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping stood at the center of the ensemble, flanked on each...

Read An Except From “In Line Behind a Billion People”

One Beijing morning in early November 2012, seven men in dark suits strode onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People. China’s newly elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping stood at the center of the ensemble, flanked on each side by three members of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee. It was the outside world’s first chance to take stock of the committee that will run China for the next decade—one that will mark many milestones. Under Xi’s watch, which is scheduled to last until 2022, China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. That moment when it arrives will likely lead many in the West to pontificate about the reshuffling of the global pecking order. Inevitably, they will breathlessly proclaim that having held the world’s “gold medal” for largest GDP since around the turn of the 20th century, the United States will have to yield to China, the new “number one.”

Conversation

08.15.13

What Should China Do to Reverse its Tourism Deficit?

Leah Thompson, Damien Ma & more
Recent news stories and industry studies show that fewer international visitors are choosing China as their destination. January-June arrivals in Beijing are down 15% from the same period in 2012 and more Chinese than ever before are spending their...

Conversation

07.30.13

Is Business in China Getting Riskier, Or Are Multinationals Taking More Risks?

Arthur R. Kroeber, David Schlesinger & more
Arthur Kroeber:The environment for foreign companies in China has been getting steadily tougher since 2006, when the nation came to the end of a five-year schedule of market-opening measures it pledged as the price of admission to the World Trade...

Conversation

07.16.13

What’s the Senate’s Beef with China’s Play for American Pork?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Steve Dickinson & more
Last week the U.S. Senate held hearings to question the CEO of meat-producer Smithfield Farms, about the proposed $4.7 billion sale of the Virginia-based company to Shuanghui International, China’s largest pork producer. The sale is under review by...

Conversation

04.18.13

How Fast Is China’s Slowdown Coming, and What Should Beijing Do About It?

Patrick Chovanec, Barry Naughton & more
Slower Chinese GDP growth is not a bad thing if it’s happening for the right reasons. But it’s not happening for the right reasons.Instead of reining in credit to try to curb over-investment, Chinese authorities have allowed a renewed explosion in...

Conversation

03.28.13

Will China’s Renminbi Replace the Dollar as the World’s Top Currency?

Patrick Chovanec, Damien Ma & more
Patrick Chovanec:This week’s news that Brazil and China have signed a $30 billion currency swap agreement gave a renewed boost to excited chatter over the rising influence of China’s currency, the renminbi (RMB). The belief, in many quarters, is...

Conversation

03.13.13

China’s Post 1980’s Generation—Are the Kids All Right?

Sun Yunfan, Orville Schell & more
This week, the ChinaFile Conversation is a call for reactions to an article about China's current generation gap, written by James Palmer, a Beijing-based historian, author, and Global Times editor. The article, first published by Aeon in the U...

Conversation

01.30.13

China, Japan and the Islands: What Do the Tensions Mean?

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
How did the Diaoyu, Spratly, and Paracel islands come to replace Taiwan as the main source of tension for maritime Asia? And how are we to explain the fact that China’s foreign policy toward its Asian neighbors has now morphed from such slogans as...

China’s Leadership Transition: What to Look For

Damien Ma
Atlantic
Now that the U.S. election is behind us, time to turn to the next most important political transition in years: the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress. Seventeen congresses have gone by and hardly anyone has paid much attention, including...

Sinica Podcast

09.21.12

The Island Imbroglio

Kaiser Kuo, Damien Ma & more from Sinica Podcast
As Xi Jinping has stepped back into the public eye this week, the reappearance of China’s heir apparent has been upstaged by large demonstrations across the country as tensions mount over territorial claims to the Diaoyu (or Senkaku) Islands. As...

Conversation

07.20.16

How Should the Republican Party Approach China Policy?

Peter Navarro, Patrick Chovanec & more
On Tuesday, delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, chose Donald J. Trump as their nominee for President of the United States. We asked a range of contributors how the Republican Party should approach China policy.

Conversation

07.29.15

Can Xi Jinping Turn China’s Economy Around?

Arthur R. Kroeber, George Chen & more
On Monday, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 8.5 percent, erasing all of the gains it had made in an extraordinary run-up this year. The drop was the second 8.5 percent drop in recent weeks. The first such drop (the occasion for the Conversation...

Sinica Podcast

11.14.14

Behind the Curtain at APEC

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
With tensions between the West and Russia running high over Ukraine, China and Japan still wrangling over the Diaoyu islands, and America and China fighting over pretty much the same old petty stuff, it's easy to be cynical about APEC. But this...

Conversation

10.14.14

Will Asia Bank on China?

Zha Daojiong, Damien Ma & more
Last week The New York Times reported U.S. opposition to China's plans to launch a regional development bank to rival the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. If, as some say, the the launch is a fait accompli, should Washington focus...

Conversation

04.30.14

Will China’s Economy Be #1 by Dec. 31? (And Does it Matter?)

William Adams, Damien Ma & more
On April 30, data released by the United Nations International Comparison Program showed China’s estimated 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rate was twenty percent higher than was estimated in 2005. What does this mean? China's...

Sinica Podcast

03.01.14

In Line Behind a Billion People

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Damien Ma, author of In Line Behind a Billion People, a new book for China-watchers looking at how China’s lack of affordable housing, its food and air pollution, and the country’s poor education...

Books

10.28.13

In Line Behind a Billion People

Damien Ma, William Adams
Nearly everything you know about China is wrong! Yes, within a decade, China will have the world’s largest economy. But that is the least important thing to know about China. In this enlightening book, two of the world’s leading China experts turn the conventional wisdom on its head, showing why China’s economic growth will constrain rather than empower it. Pioneering political analyst Damien Ma and global economist Bill Adams reveal why, having thirty-five years of ferocious economic growth, China’s future will be shaped by the same fundamental reality that has shaped it for millennia: scarcity.{node, 4231}Ma and Adams drill deep into Chinese society, illuminating all the scarcities that will limit its power and progress. Beyond scarcities of natural resources and public goods, they illuminate China’s persistent poverties of individual freedoms, cultural appeal, and ideological legitimacy—and the corrosive loss of values and beliefs amongst a growing middle class shackled by a parochial and inflexible political system. Everyone knows “the 21st century is China’s to lose”—but, as with so many things that “everyone knows,” that’s just wrong. Ma and Adams get beyond cheerleading and fearmongering to tell the complex truth about China today. This is a truth you need to hear—whether you’re an investor, business decision-maker, policymaker, or citizen. —Pearson{chop}

Viewpoint

10.28.13

Stark Choices for China’s Leaders

Damien Ma & William Adams
One Beijing morning in early November 2012, seven men in dark suits strode onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People. China’s newly elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping stood at the center of the ensemble, flanked on each...

Read An Except From “In Line Behind a Billion People”

One Beijing morning in early November 2012, seven men in dark suits strode onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People. China’s newly elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping stood at the center of the ensemble, flanked on each side by three members of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee. It was the outside world’s first chance to take stock of the committee that will run China for the next decade—one that will mark many milestones. Under Xi’s watch, which is scheduled to last until 2022, China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. That moment when it arrives will likely lead many in the West to pontificate about the reshuffling of the global pecking order. Inevitably, they will breathlessly proclaim that having held the world’s “gold medal” for largest GDP since around the turn of the 20th century, the United States will have to yield to China, the new “number one.”

Conversation

08.15.13

What Should China Do to Reverse its Tourism Deficit?

Leah Thompson, Damien Ma & more
Recent news stories and industry studies show that fewer international visitors are choosing China as their destination. January-June arrivals in Beijing are down 15% from the same period in 2012 and more Chinese than ever before are spending their...

Conversation

07.30.13

Is Business in China Getting Riskier, Or Are Multinationals Taking More Risks?

Arthur R. Kroeber, David Schlesinger & more
Arthur Kroeber:The environment for foreign companies in China has been getting steadily tougher since 2006, when the nation came to the end of a five-year schedule of market-opening measures it pledged as the price of admission to the World Trade...

Conversation

07.16.13

What’s the Senate’s Beef with China’s Play for American Pork?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Steve Dickinson & more
Last week the U.S. Senate held hearings to question the CEO of meat-producer Smithfield Farms, about the proposed $4.7 billion sale of the Virginia-based company to Shuanghui International, China’s largest pork producer. The sale is under review by...

Conversation

04.18.13

How Fast Is China’s Slowdown Coming, and What Should Beijing Do About It?

Patrick Chovanec, Barry Naughton & more
Slower Chinese GDP growth is not a bad thing if it’s happening for the right reasons. But it’s not happening for the right reasons.Instead of reining in credit to try to curb over-investment, Chinese authorities have allowed a renewed explosion in...

Conversation

03.28.13

Will China’s Renminbi Replace the Dollar as the World’s Top Currency?

Patrick Chovanec, Damien Ma & more
Patrick Chovanec:This week’s news that Brazil and China have signed a $30 billion currency swap agreement gave a renewed boost to excited chatter over the rising influence of China’s currency, the renminbi (RMB). The belief, in many quarters, is...

Conversation

03.13.13

China’s Post 1980’s Generation—Are the Kids All Right?

Sun Yunfan, Orville Schell & more
This week, the ChinaFile Conversation is a call for reactions to an article about China's current generation gap, written by James Palmer, a Beijing-based historian, author, and Global Times editor. The article, first published by Aeon in the U...

Conversation

01.30.13

China, Japan and the Islands: What Do the Tensions Mean?

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
How did the Diaoyu, Spratly, and Paracel islands come to replace Taiwan as the main source of tension for maritime Asia? And how are we to explain the fact that China’s foreign policy toward its Asian neighbors has now morphed from such slogans as...

Sinica Podcast

09.21.12

The Island Imbroglio

Kaiser Kuo, Damien Ma & more from Sinica Podcast
As Xi Jinping has stepped back into the public eye this week, the reappearance of China’s heir apparent has been upstaged by large demonstrations across the country as tensions mount over territorial claims to the Diaoyu (or Senkaku) Islands. As...

China’s Leadership Transition: What to Look For

Damien Ma
Atlantic
Now that the U.S. election is behind us, time to turn to the next most important political transition in years: the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress. Seventeen congresses have gone by and hardly anyone has paid much attention, including...