Eric Heginbotham | People

Principal Research Scientist


Eric Heginbotham is a principal research scientist at MIT’s Security Studies Program and a specialist in Asian security issues. Before joining MIT, he was a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where he led research projects on China, Japan, and regional security issues. Prior to that he was a Senior Fellow of Asian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. After graduating from Swarthmore College, Heginbotham earned his PhD in political science from MIT. He is fluent in Chinese and Japanese, and was a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Heginbotham is a co-editor, China Steps Out: Beijing’s Major Power Engagement with the Developing World (Routledge, 2018), a co-author of Chinese and Indian Strategic Behavior, and was the lead author of China’s Evolving Nuclear Deterrent (RAND, 2017) and U.S.-China Military Scorecard (RAND, 2015). Heginbotham has published numerous articles in Foreign Affairs, International Security, Washington Quarterly and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book on Japanese military strategy.



Publications|Selected Publications

Eric Heginbotham, “Active Denial A Roadmap to a More Effective, Stabilizing, and Sustainable U.S. Defense Strategy in Asia,” Quincy Paper No. 8 (June 2022)

Eric Heginbotham, “Don’t Fall for the Invasion Panic,” Foreign Affairs, August 2021 (With Rachel Esplin Odell)

Eric Heginbotham, “China Maritime Report No. 14: Chinese Views of the Military Balance in the Western Pacific,” China Maritime Studies Institute, June 2021

Eric Heginbotham, “Vulnerable Alliances: U.S. Unpredictability and the Search for a ‘Plan B’ in South Korea and Japan,” Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (June 2020) (With Richard J. Samuels)
Eric Heginbotham, “China’s Relations with Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East,” in China and the World, in David Shambaugh, ed., China and the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020) (With Joshua Eisenman)

Eric Heginbotham, “Building a more ‘Democratic’ and ‘Multipolar’ World: China’s Strategic Engagement with Developing Countries,”  The China Review Vol. 19, No. 4 (November 2019) (With Joshua Eisenman)

Eric Heginbotham, “Taiwan’s Balancing Act,” The National Interest, February 11, 2019 (With Rajan Menon)

Eric Heginbotham, "Japan’s View of Nuclear North Korea: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” In William Overholt, ed., North Korea: Peace? Nuclear War? (Cambridge, MA: The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard University, 2019) (With Richard J. Samuels)

Eric Heginbotham, “Japan’s New NDPG and MTDP: An American Perspective on Operational Issues and Implications,” in James L. Schoff and Sayuri Romei, eds., The New National Defense Program Guidelines, April 2019

Eric Heginbotham, “Of Bombs and Bureaucrats: Internal Drivers of Nuclear Force Building in China and the United States,” Journal of Contemporary China Vol. 28, No. 118 (December 2018) (With Jacob Heim and Christopher P. Twomey)

Eric Heginbotham, “An Agenda for Japanese Military Reform,”  East Asia Forum Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 3, (September 2018) (With Richard J. Samuels)

Eric Heginbotham, "A New Military Strategy For Japan," Foreign Affairs, July 16, 2018 

Eric Heginbotham, "Active Denial: Redesigning Japan's Response to China's Military Challenge," International Security, Vol. 42, No. 4 (Spring 2018) (With Richard J. Samuels)

Eric Heginbotham, Editor, China Steps Out: Beijing’s Power Engagement with the Developing World, (New York: Routledge, 2018) (With Joshua Eisenman)

For a complete list of publications




Podcast: “The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Who’s on Top?” Council on Foreign Relations, March 23, 2016.  

Podcast: “United States and China: Trends in Military Competition,” Briefing to Congress, October 5, 2015 (available on iTunes)