Aislin Salassi | June 6, 2022
The U.S.-China Student Dialogue through a Taiwanese Lens
It has been an honor to participate in this three-week intensive dialogue between Fudan University and Georgetown University students. During our Zoom breakout group, we discussed topics regarding global governance, the role that the United States and China should play in the world, and people-to-people dialogue. To conclude the event, our group agreed that there was a different interpretation of how global governance should work between the U.S. and China. We did, however, agree that the two countries could use their influence in combating climate change and peacemaking despite their differences.
From my perspective, the dialogue was not just an opportunity to discuss U.S.-China topics but also enabled me to put myself in the shoes of the students at Fudan. The Chinese participants were not hesitant to express their perspectives, values, and stories even during the harsh time of the Shanghai COVID-19 lockdown. The U.S.-China relationship is more than just textbooks, PowerPoints, or news and articles; it is the interaction of personal stories and experiences in each other's cultures. Freedom of value exchange drew us together and allowed us to express our views on various global issues, from economics to humanitarian causes, to media influence and our understanding of democracy.
During our conversation, we acknowledged that the U.S.-China relationship is suffering, especially during the pandemic era, when in-person interactions are halted while experiencing rising differences in internet governance. In addition, we discussed the most common misunderstanding between the two countries and explained how stereotypes are formed on either side. Ultimately, we realized that mutual dialogue and appreciation of each civilization's cultural characteristics are essential. There was consensus that this kind of dialogue should not be confined to the elite and leadership levels, but should also involve non-governmental organizations and grass-root citizens to foster mutual trust and friendship among the whole community.
Furthermore, I availed myself of the opportunity to raise the topic of Taiwan-U.S.-China trilateral relations. I appreciated the fact that both students from the United States and China expressed their perceptions on this topic freely. As I recognized the dynamics between the discussions, it dawned on me that such trilateral relations needed to be discreetly handled since there were few areas of common ground. As a Taiwanese person, I appreciated the freedom to express my views and the timely and insightful feedback from other teammates. Thus, I could say that I have more confidence in the next generation, which cherishes the opportunity for peace and dialogue rather than confrontations and statements, on this intricate issue.
Last but not least, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the team for making this meaningful event possible, especially during the pandemic era and the Shanghai lockdown. Throughout the entire event, it was evident that people remained positive and attentive despite all the negativity and apathy, searching for common ground for our shared interests and, most importantly, being the change we want to see in the world.
Sarah Min San Hsieh (MSFS'23) is pursuing a master's degree in the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service with concentrations in science and technology in international affairs.
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