July 13, 2021 | Press Release


July 13, 2021 | Press Release


Former Deputy National Security Adviser to lead FDD’s work on countering China’s global ambitions

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2021 – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) today named former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger as chairman of the organization’s China Program. FDD is a nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

FDD takes a whole-of-institution approach in studying and countering the threats from the Chinese Communist Party. FDD’s China program, comprised of leading experts on these threats, works closely with FDD’s centers on American power: the Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP) headed by General H.R. McMaster; the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) chaired by Dr. Samantha Ravich; and, the Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP) led by the Hon. Juan Zarate. FDD also studies China across our multiple regional areas spanning the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, Africa, Canada, and Latin America.

“I’m thrilled to contribute to the work and mission of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has a spectacular team of action-oriented and independent thinkers,” Pottinger said. “The United States and her allies must marshal their political, economic, military, legal, technological and informational advantages into effective policies to counter Beijing’s global challenge to liberty.

“The creative minds Mark Dubowitz has assembled in the China program and the centers chaired by Juan Zarate, H.R. McMaster, and Sam Ravich are an ideal team for formulating such policies,” he continued.

“I can think of no better person than Matt Pottinger with his decades of experience in government, the military, and journalism, and his fluent Mandarin language skills, to help our team develop actionable policies for this critical strategic competition with America’s most formidable adversary,” said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of FDD. “Matt is a national treasure who has fundamentally changed the direction of U.S.-China policy and we are honored to have him join us as chair of our China program.”

Lt Gen. McMaster commented, “Matt Pottinger has served our nation with great distinction in and out of uniform. He is a man of impeccable character and extraordinary intellect.  His deep understanding of the Indo-Pacific region and clear-eyed view of the challenge presented by the Chinese Communist Party will allow FDD to contribute further to the most important competition of the twenty-first century.”

“The preeminent challenge in the domain of financial and economic power is how to compete with and challenge the Chinese Communist Party and its state-driven authoritarian capitalist system,” said Juan C. Zarate, who was former deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism (2005 to 2009). “Given the size of the Chinese economy, the growth of its State-owned enterprises beyond its borders, China’s regional and global economic and financial ambitions, and Beijing’s growing willingness to leverage economic tools to coerce others, there is a striking need to develop creative strategies, tools, and alliances to defend and advance U.S. and allied interests. With the addition of Matt to lead FDD’s China program, there is no better leader or strategist to engage these issues and provide this kind of creative and cutting-edge thought leadership, for which FDD is well known. Matt’s work as Deputy National Security Advisor and deep expertise and focus on China while in the White House will help weave together the work of FDD’s three core centers to ensure policymakers, the private sector, and media are considering and addressing the myriad challenges China presents this century in all domains of power,” continued Zarate. “I am eager and very pleased to be able to learn from and collaborate with Matt.”

Pottinger served the White House for four years in senior roles on the National Security Council staff, including as deputy national security advisor from 2019 to 2021. In that role, he coordinated the full spectrum of national security policy, and is credited with raising awareness of Chinese Communist Party efforts to spread influence and interfere in various U.S. institutions, including academia, the tech sector and Wall Street.

Pottinger previously served as senior director for Asia, where he led the administration’s work on the Indo-Pacific region, in particular its shift on China policy.

Before his White House service, Pottinger spent the late 1990s and early 2000s in China as a reporter for Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. A former Marine intelligence officer, Pottinger served in Iraq and Afghanistan during three combat deployments between 2007 and 2010. Following active duty, he founded and led an Asia-focused risk consultancy and ran Asia research at an investment fund in New York.

“How to preserve our values, our prosperity, and our security from an adversarial China that has both a technological base and an economy that rivals ours, is the greatest challenge we now face. Matt brings to FDD an expert understanding of China’s strategies, capabilities, and intentions as well as years of experience forcing the U.S. government to ready itself for this struggle,” said Samantha Ravich, chairman of CCTI, former commissioner on the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission and former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. “With Matt on our team, FDD is now positioned to lead this effort from the outside, overlaying his China expertise on our existing centers of technology, military, and financial power to help further the understanding and craft the policies needed to maintain America’s preeminence,” Ravich said.

About FDD’s China Program

The United States is engaged in a strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The challenges posed by the CCP continue to mount: the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, massive human rights abuses, threats to American democratic allies like Taiwan and Hong Kong, dominance of vital supply chains and critical 21st century technologies, cyber intrusions, theft of U.S. intellectual property, strategic and weaponized CCP foreign investment in the United States and around the globe, North Korea and Iran nuclear, missile and military cooperation and sanctions-busting, and military provocations in the Indo-Pacific.

To address these threats, FDD’s China Program experts work as part of FDD’s three centers on American power to leverage the economic, financial, military, political, cyber and technology tools to expose and counter the full scope of the CCP challenge. They conduct detailed research, appear regularly in the media, and develop actionable policy options.

FDD’s China Program team includes fellows and analysts with a range of backgrounds, Chinese language skills, data-driven mining capabilities to examine Chinese-language sources, and experience in government, intelligence, military, and technology. FDD’s China Program examines a range of topics including: illicit finance; corrupt CCP global infrastructure; exploitation of the U.S. court system; methods for protecting vulnerable U.S. supply chains; proliferation activities; military developments; cyber threats; and human rights abuses in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and elsewhere.

To contact FDD media relations, please email [email protected].


About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Connect with FDD on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

About FDD’s Centers on American Power:

Through FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power, Center on Economic and Financial Power, and Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation, FDD experts conduct in-depth research, produce accurate and timely analyses and provide policy options – with the aim of using all instruments of American power to strengthen U.S. national security. Each center is comprised of a team of FDD domain experts as well as a top-level board of advisors, who provide strategic guidance, help lead initiatives, and promote research.