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响应: 2016-2017年美中对话学生项目反思

It’s the Beginning, Not the End

Zhihang Du


Twelve months ago, I decided to switch my interest from journalism to international economics and global affairs for postgraduate studies. Then I saw the advertisement of the Georgetown University U.S.-China Initiative. All I knew about Georgetown University at that time was that it has the best foreign service programs in the United States, so I told myself that if I wanted to study international affairs in the future, I would want to visit the school which is best at the subject. So I worked my heart out on the application article and prepared as much as I could for the interview, and luckily, I became a fellow of the initiative.

The discussions were vigorous. During the meetings in Washington, D.C., we were in a negotiation mode most of the time, i.e., trying to figure out what we basically agree and disagree by discussing a couple of key areas such as business and trade, law, culture and society, anti-terrorism, and global health issues. Eight months later in Beijing, we adopted a freer style in the discussions. Our topic ranged from our visits to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy to U.S.-China relations under the Trump administration and the nuclear problem in the Korean Peninsula. On the third day of the meeting, we spend eight hours going through a dozen topics that we’ve been concerned with through the year, including the origin of the different perspectives of U.S. and Chinese students. I had been a visiting student abroad, but I never had such open and frank face-to-face discussion about U.S. and Chinese politics and diplomacy.

Looking back at the year we have been through, I must say a large part of me have been deeply transformed. The one-week stay in Washington including the visit to the National Security Council and Chinese Embassy enabled me to closely observe how institutions of the two countries manage the nuances of the bilateral relationship. Although the fellows were physically together for only two weeks, through the deep discussion, field trips, and constant contacts through Wechat and Facebook, we built up the trust and friendship that may take years to establish otherwise.

Although the 2016-2017 fellowship ends with this last essay, it is a new beginning for me. After our first meeting in Washington and the surprising 2016 election, I was more interested than ever in U.S. politics and was much more sensitive to the significance behind even the tiniest events happening between the United States and China—for example, China’s suspension of coal imports from North Korea. Now I am a research assistant of the global intern program of Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for International Peace, where I can continue my interest in international affairs, especially the U.S. -China relationship. Also, the fellows have agreed to see each other again very soon: Caleb is coming back to China next month and we’ll meet at Chengdu; Clay will come back in September as a Schwarzman Scholar, and I’ll definitely pay him a visit at Tsinghua; Yuwen is to come to Beijing for an internship, so we will be having dinner somewhere near my university next month; I am applying for graduate programs in universities in Washington, D.C., so hopefully I will see David, Professor Wilder, Professor Kline, Tuoya, and Ana at Georgetown again next year. I also believe I will meet the rest of the squad again somewhere sometime in the future. I believe this is a small world.

The topic of the application essay for the 2017-2018 fellowship is the same as last year, but if I were to write again, I would have so much more to say as I’ve learned so much through the year. The relationship between China and the United States is one of the most complicated but also the most vibrant bilateral relationship in the world, and there is considerable space for us youth to make it a better relationship, which is also beneficial to the prosperity of the global community. I genuinely hope this fellowship program can enjoy longevity and become the testimony of U.S.-China cooperation’s benefits to the international society. Last but not least, thank you, Georgetown University!

Zhihang Du is a senior of international journalism major at Beijing Foreign Studies University.