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China Focus is thrilled to announce the 2023 China Focus Essay Contest. This year’s contest is organized by China Focus and is jointly hosted by the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, the 1990 Institute, The Carter Center, and the 21st Century China Center. 

We will accept both Chinese and English submissions. The contest offers two topics and awards two prizes of $2,000 and two runner-up prizes of $1,000.

Award winners will grant China Focus and co-sponsors the right to publish their essays on their respective platforms or in their publications. Winners may then be contacted with additional award opportunities to transform their essays into teaching materials and also to discuss their work with a panel of experts during the summer. (Chinese Announcement)

2023 ESSAY TOPICS (Choose only one):

How has China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) affected the countries involved? Pick a country that China has included in the BRI. Assess the record of China’s relationship with the country. Discuss who benefits from what in this relationship and whether BRI projects are politically, economically, and environmentally sustainable in the country. What are the geopolitical implications of this case?

China and the U.S. share an interest in carbon reduction. Yet both China and the U.S. are now following policies that discriminate against the other’s “green industries.” Are there changes in domestic renewable energy policies which can contribute positively to U.S.-China cooperation and which will result in global carbon reduction?


The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Each entry must be the original work of students enrolled during the 2022-23 academic year as well as students who graduated after May 2022. We especially welcome submissions by students from U.S. and Chinese universities. Collaborative projects are encouraged, but prize money must be split among collaborators. Entries can be in either English or Chinese.

Essays should be written in op-ed style, with references provided as appropriate but no need for detailed footnotes, with a length of up to  2,500 words in English and 3,000 in Chinese.

Each entry will be reviewed by a panel of judges drawn from the China Focus board of advisers, experts in U.S.-China relations from the 21st Century China Center, and others with relevant expertise.


Two equal $2,000 prizes for contest winners, the 1990 Institute Prize and the Jimmy Carter Prize, will be awarded. Runner-up essays will also be selected to win $1,000 each.

Winners will be selected on quality without regard to the question addressed in the essay. Essay winners may then be contacted with additional award opportunities entailing transforming their essays into teaching materials and/or discussing their essay themes with experts on a panel event during the summer.


April 21st, 2023, 11:59 PST


  • Send your submission to us by email ( with the subject heading: “CF Contest-LastName”
  • Send from your official university email address.
  • Send your essay attached as a PDF.
  • Please include a cover page with the following information:
    • Submission title
    • Author name(s)
    • Affiliated school
    • Degree just completed or being pursued in the current school year
    • Nationality
    • 3-4 sentences bio
    • An alternative (permanent) email address (different from the school email address)
    • Where did you hear about the essay contest?


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