Self-Reflection and Optimism
Aislin Salassi | June 6, 2022
Responding To: Georgetown Student Dialogue Participants Reflect on Exchange with Fudan University
I was fortunate to participate again in the U.S.-China Student-to-Student dialogue, this time with students from Fudan University, located in my hometown Shanghai. From April to May, as the weather gradually got warmer in Washington D.C., I came to establish a very friendly relationship with my peers from both Fudan and Georgetown. To my great surprise and perhaps great relief, in our conversations, I realized that deep in our hearts, Georgetown and Fudan students shared many similar concerns about the future of our two countries, the United States and China, and we are very worried about many things that people in power are doing to intentionally create hostility between the two nations to their advantage.
We articulated that global governance is under attack via a top-down process: People with great power influence mainstream media to intentionally portray the other country, whether it is the United States or China, extremely negatively. Then, a great majority of common people in these two countries, who might not have the opportunity to speak or chat with a real American or real Chinese, take in those perspectives of the mainstream media, and begin to think that American people or Chinese people are threatening their future and making their lives miserable. Finally, leveraging this public sentiment, people in power further play it to their advantage for political gains.
While we think such a process is creating great damage to the global system, we also recognize other important forces at play. Problems such as economic volatility and income inequality likely created public frustration in the first place. People in power realized those issues and blamed it on the other side, whether it is China blaming the U.S. or the U.S. blaming China. Meanwhile, external factors such as Covid-19 and the Ukraine crisis are also adding great pressure to the U.S.-China relationship, pushing both sides to take more radical stances.
In the end, we realized that this all together is an extremely complicated and entangled problem, harder than what the most brilliant mind could solve. Yet the comforting thing is that we, students from both China and the United States, came up with these articulations together - we both felt that this is what is causing the problem underneath the surface. This, after all, is worth celebrating. My perspective prompted a student from China to a new realization or inspiration, and his or her new idea then pushed me and my Georgetown peers to think even deeper. It was an incredibly intellectually stimulating experience, and in the end, I am very grateful for having an hour every week to speak with these brilliant minds.
While the destinies of our countries lie beyond our hands, to have more friendliness and relationships between the two countries’ peoples is always a good thing.
Xiang (Sean) Rong (SFS’23) is a junior in Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service, majoring in international economics and minoring in statistics.
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