Launched in 2021, the China Pathfinder Project is a collaboration between the Atlantic Council and Rhodium Group to track China’s convergence with or divergence from open market economy norms. This project is nonpartisan and seeks to foster consensus about where China stands in relation to advanced market economies. With that goal in mind, our design balances accessibility for nontechnical readers with commitment to robust, transparent, and data-grounded methods.

Research Framework

The China Pathfinder Project evaluates the economic system of China and ten open market economies in six categories: financial system development, modern innovation system, market competition, trade openness, direct investment openness, and portfolio investment openness. The first three clusters represent the “domestic” dimension, and the latter three clusters represent the “external” openness dimension.

The comparable cross-country indicators that we select to represent development in these six areas are updated annually. China Pathfinder also provides a set of composite scores based on the indicator data to offer a larger picture of China’s movement toward (or away from) market norms. In addition, we select nuanced supplemental indicators and conduct quarterly policy tracking to keep up with fast-moving economic and policy developments in China.

This year’s China Pathfinder measures the 2022 performance of eleven countries using the same standardized metrics. It updates results from 2010, 2020, and 2021 to use as points of comparison. The selected country list is as follows: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Aside from China, the list is made up of the ten largest OECD countries by GDP, all of which are considered market economies.

For our 2023 report, we have further improved this process of comparing countries’ changes in performance over time by updating the project’s methodology. The updated normalization process uses a larger pool of datapoints, taking minimum and maximum values not only across countries for a given year, but simultaneously across countries for all sampled years. This change allows us to better attribute year-over-year fluctuations in data to countries’ own progress or regression.

Website Tools and Contact

China Pathfinder’s composite score data and quarterly policy heatmap results are displayed on the website Dashboard. Users may select the Explore data tab for each of the six economic areas, or navigate from the Dashboard drop-down menu, to view indicator-specific visualizations. To read our previous annual and quarterly reports, please visit the Publications page. 

For questions about the data and analysis, please reach out to the report’s Rhodium Group authors. For media inquiries, please contact Niels Graham, Associate Director at the Atlantic Council GeoEconomics Center, or Ian Hutchinson, Communications Manager for Rhodium Group’s China practice.