Andrea Su | August 30, 2019
Hope for the Future
On July 3, 2019, over 150 China scholars and former government officials signed an open letter to President Trump condemning the current state of US-China relations. In a seven point address, the letter identifies the most pressing issues plaguing the bilateral relationship and presents an alternative approach to China policy. The authors, China experts M. Taylor Fravel, Michael D. Swaine, Susan Thornton, and Ezra Vogel, assert that the current administration's treatment of China as an enemy “will damage the United States’ international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations.” By emphasizing the serious, long-term ramifications of alienating China, the experts underscore a clear message: the United States cannot meaningfully suppress China’s rise without inflicting injuries upon itself.
Instead, they argue, Washington must maintain open lines of communication with Beijing and encourage our Chinese counterparts to remain engaged. While they acknowledge China’s problematic behavior with regard to human rights, intellectual property, trade and foreign policy, they stress the importance of basing policy decisions on “a realistic appraisal of Chinese perceptions, interests, goals and behavior...” This point is critical; in the current climate, Washington must avoid over exaggerating or misinterpreting certain situations. The U.S.-China relationship will never be friction-free. Thus, the United States must work with other nations and remain active in multilateral institutions in order to uphold the global order of norms and values it has worked tirelessly to construct.
While the United States and China are far from reaching reconciliation, I do believe that the U.S.-China relationship can be repaired. This is a divergence from my last, less than optimistic blog. My change in perspective is largely due to one life experience that I will never forget: a private conversation our cohort had with Madam Fu Ying, former Ambassador to the UK and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, at our Beijing conference in May. In response to my question regarding Graham Allison’s Thucydides’s Trap theory, which predicts that the US and China are destined for war, the seasoned diplomat admitted that she believes we are approaching a moment where the U.S.-China relationship cannot be improved. She warned that if the United States continues to make China an enemy, then the theory of Thucydides’s Trap will become inevitable. Seeing rapprochement as a less than probable outcome, for the near future at least, Madam Fu Ying sagely identified young people as her hope for the future. After participating in the U.S.-China Dialogue’s yearlong fellowship, I have had the privilege of meeting exceptional Chinese and American students dedicated repairing bilateral relations. After a year of continued discussions regarding topical U.S.-China issues, I too am confident that young people have the will and the potential to bring about real change.
As an American student fascinated by the economic and political complexities of China, I have closely studied Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy at the undergraduate level. My coursework at the University of Pennsylvania has enabled me to explore the historical intricacies and economic policies that make China the anomaly it is today. Georgetown University’s Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues has given me the opportunity to better understand and even challenge the academic theories from my coursework by engaging with prominent, senior officials from both the United States and China. And most importantly, the U.S.-China Student Fellows program allowed me to engage in a meaningful cross-cultural exchange with a group of personable and analytical Chinese students. From our four-hour-long debriefs and debates on critical policy issues to casual dinner conversations over Chinese social practices, I feel truly privileged to have befriended such accomplished and inquisitive individuals. Being a part of this cohort—a group of incredibly passionate and forward-thinking scholars—has been the highlight of my year. Above all, the relationships that I have fostered and the lessons that I have learned have restored my confidence in the power of diplomacy and the ability of young people to enact real change.
Junming Cui | August 30, 2019
Yihong Shi | August 30, 2019
Zhaoqing Li | August 30, 2019
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Ivan Solomon | August 29, 2019
Xiaogu Xu | August 29, 2019
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Chang Fan | August 28, 2019
Danny Li | August 28, 2019
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