Critique of Global Peace Index 2023

Richard Kenneth Eng
2 min readJul 3, 2023


The Global Peace Index is an annual report published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, headquartered in Sydney, Australia. This year’s report ranks 163 countries according to their level of peacefulness. This determination is done using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators across three domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarisation.

I am here to tell you that this index is bullshit.

To prove it, I shall highlight the rankings of China and all the advanced economies (USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, and Japan).

From Global Peace Index 2023:

  • China — #80
  • USA — #131
  • UK — #37
  • France — #67
  • Germany — #15
  • Italy — #34
  • Spain — #32
  • Canada — #11
  • Japan — #9

This index rightly pegs the USA at #131, the bottom of this group. But why is China at #80, below the other countries? What has China done that makes it not peaceful?

China has fought no wars in the last 44 years since 1979.

All the other countries in the group have been variously involved in major wars during this same period. The following lists are not comprehensive:

  • USA — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Grenada, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Panama, Syria, Yemen, Yugoslavia
  • UK — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Lebanon, Yugoslavia
  • France — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia
  • Germany — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Yugoslavia
  • Italy — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Yugoslavia
  • Spain — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Yugoslavia
  • Canada — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia
  • Japan — Iraq

I submit that the one and only valid metric for peacefulness is the absence of war in these countries. By this metric, all of these countries but China fail miserably.

The GPI takes into account societal/domestic issues and national militarisation. China has a very safe and stable society compared to the other countries (USA, UK, EU are in crisis). This is reflected in the fact that China is the happiest country in the world.

China has indeed been militarising very heavily and for good reason. China needs to defend itself against the malevolent forces of the West (USA and NATO). Militarisation does not make China a militant and belligerent nation.

And, finally, regarding ongoing international conflicts, the USA has been interfering in China’s core interest (Taiwan). If a country goes out of its way to antagonize another, the latter should not be labelled as non-peaceful.

Territorial disputes are common around the world. That China has them does not mean China isn’t peaceful. My home country of Canada has no fewer than five maritime disputes with the USA.

My conclusion, therefore, is that the Global Peace Index is a biased indicator of peacefulness.