Ajay Nathan | October 3, 2023
Understanding the Impact of the U.S.-China Relations on Singapore
Participating in the U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogue between Georgetown University and Peking University as a Singaporean was an eye-opening and unique experience. Being a small island-state in Southeast Asia, Singapore is often caught in the middle of the U.S.-China rivalry. As a result, I was particularly interested in learning more about the perspectives of both American and Chinese students on how the geopolitical conflict between the two superpowers could affect smaller states like Singapore. Taking part in the dialogue, I was able to accomplish this. I had the opportunity to share my perspectives on Southeast Asia and learn more about how my Chinese counterparts viewed the region. I was also able to discuss and learn about the ramifications of U.S.-China relations on a greater array of fields including development, global health, sustainability, and more.
The discussions and how they unfolded were, unsurprisingly, the most interesting part. It was enlightening to hear the perspectives of my Chinese counterparts, who had different experiences and cultural backgrounds than me. I was able to see how issues that I had previously thought of as strictly American or Chinese issues were actually interconnected and affected both countries. I also enjoyed getting to know the students from Peking University on a more personal level and having more in-depth discussions on issues of mutual interest. Despite our vastly different cultural backgrounds, we were all students, and this commonality enabled us to connect and bond over shared experiences. We were all passionate about making a positive impact in the world, and it was inspiring to see that we shared this common goal.
Additionally, being a part of this dialogue allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for the importance of good diplomacy and building relationships with other countries. In discussing the current tensions between the United States and China, I was reminded that cooperation and collective action are almost always more beneficial and fruitful than competition. The dialogue reaffirmed my belief that by engaging in productive conversations and building relationships, sustainable progress on shared goals or mutual interest is far more likely to occur. In regard to the U.S.-China relationship, good diplomacy is particularly crucial as it helps manage competition, maintain economic interdependence, address global challenges, and ensure strategic stability and security. Through diplomatic efforts, along with other avenues, both countries can find common ground, build trust, and navigate their complex relationship for the benefit of their citizens and the international community.
In conclusion, participating in the U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogue was a valuable experience that taught me the importance of cross-cultural conversations, diplomacy, and relationship-building. I really enjoyed the range of backgrounds that were present in the conversation. I was able to truly gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives, and I hope that my counterparts at Peking University find the program as inspiring as I do. Ultimately, I feel empowered to continue engaging in discussions with individuals from different cultural backgrounds and hope that more initiatives like this will be created in the future.
Aditi Pangam (SFS'26) is studying in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.
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