Monthly updates from the Policy Change Index.
Mercatus Center at George Mason University This Week

Dear Human Readers,
Happy Almost Election Day! No matter how tomorrow shakes out, (at least) one of the candidates will not be sitting in the Oval Office after January 20. But you know what’s not going anywhere? The “China Challenge” U.S. policymakers have to face for years to come. So let’s talk about that.

PCI is Two Years Old!

Last month marked the second anniversary of the launch of the PCI. That you are reading this means you are among the beautiful people from 120+ countries who have seen our work and/or given us feedback as we build more algorithms. For that, we are truly grateful.

If you have friends who live in North Korea, Cuba, etc., please help us grow by forwarding our letters to them, as we would love to hear from them, too!

(Rare celebratory footage of the PCI developers)



China’s military aggressions. During the closely watched Fifth Plenum of the Communist Party last week, China announced the goal of building a “fully modern” military force by 2027 and keeping it under the party’s “absolute leadership.” As ambitious as it sounds, this should be no surprise to our frequent readers. As the PCI-China demonstrated, the Chinese government for months has been showing unusual emphasis on its military power in its propaganda.

The chart below shows the index, up to the latest 2020 Q3 update. In Q2, where the latest spike occurred, China not only pivoted from pandemic containment to interventionist domestic policy but also increasing touting President Xi Jinping’s control over China’s military might. With the Q3 update, the spike became even more apparently.

Figure: PCI-China, 1951 Q1 to 2020 Q3

Note: The PCI-China predicts if and when the Chinese government will change its policy priorities. A spike in the indicator signals a policy change, while a vertical bar marks the occurrence of a policy change labeled by the event.

While it might be too soon to tell where a military aggression will likely take place, the tension points such as the Taiwan Strait, the Sino-Indian border, and the South China Sea are now all too familiar. One would be misguided to assume the talks will not turn into actions.

PCI Resources

The open-sourced PCI projects are meant to crack a window to otherwise opaque political systems, so everyone can look inside—for free. You can find out more about the projects on the PCI website. Don’t hesitate to reach out!


Edited by Weifeng Zhong and Julian TszKin Chan


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