Margaret Pearson

Margaret Pearson

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, John L. Thornton China Center

Margaret M. Pearson is the Dr. Horace E. and Wilma V. Harrison Distinguished Professor, and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in the Department of Government and Politics at University of Maryland, College Park. Her areas of expertise cover both Chinese domestic political economy and China’s foreign relations.

Pearson’s research on China’s domestic politics focuses on state-business relations, central-local bureaucratic relations, and environmental policy. On Chinese foreign policy, Pearson’s ongoing projects examine host country reactions to China’s overseas economic activities (with a geographic focus on Africa and Brazil), determinants of Beijing’s behavior in global institutions, and climate change governance. She teaches courses on Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy, and has been recognized as a top teacher at the University of Maryland. Pearson held a Fulbright Research Fellowship at Peking University. She regularly speaks on issues of China’s political economy in the U.S. and internationally.

Pearson received a doctoral degree in political science from Yale University and was an associate professor with tenure at Dartmouth College before moving to the University of Maryland. Her books include “The State and Capitalism in China” (with Meg Rithmire and Kellee S. Tsai, Cambridge Element, 2023), “China’s Strategic Multilateralism: Investing in Global Governance” (with Scott Kastner and Chad Rector, Cambridge University Press, 2019), “China’s New Business Elite: The Political Results of Economic Reform” (University of California Press, 1997), and “Joint Ventures in the People’s Republic of China” (Princeton University Press, 1991). Her articles have been published in Journal of Politics, World Politics, International Security, Security Studies, Foreign Policy Analysis, World Development, Public Administration Review, Governance, Studies in Comparative International Development, Review of International Political Economy, China Journal, China Quarterly, and Journal of Contemporary China.


  • Cambridge University Press, Elements in the Chinese Economy and Governance, advisory board member
  • Global Public Policy and Governance, editorial board member
  • Journal of Contemporary China, editorial board member
  • University of Maryland, Center for International Development and Conflict Management, research faculty
  • Areas of Expertise

    • China’s development model
    • Chinese overseas economic influence
  • Current Positions

    • Dr. Horace V. and Wilma E. Harrison Distinguished Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Past Positions

    • Associate Professor, Department of Government, Dartmouth College
    • ADVANCE Professor, University of Maryland
  • Education

    • Ph.D., Yale University
    • M.Phil., Yale University
    • M.A., Yale University
    • B.A., Smith College
  • Languages

    • English
    • Mandarin (working proficiency)