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Flags of U.S. and China are placed for a meeting between Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and China's Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing, China June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee - RC1A8F925660
Order from Chaos

Experts discuss American and Chinese interests—and the way forward for U.S.-China relations

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On October 30, 2018, a high-level, closed-door workshop was held at the Brookings Institution to discuss U.S.-China relations today and going forward. The event was the first major collaboration between the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School and the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings. The day-long event brought together a large group of leading U.S. experts on China and U.S.-China relations.

With the U.S.-China relationship under strain, the workshop addressed numerous unanswered questions about the future of U.S.-China relations, including: What are American and Chinese interests as China rises? Where do they conflict and where might they still be complementary? What should be the objectives and components of a future American strategy for responsible competition with China?

The premise of the workshop was that government, academic, military, and private-sector leaders in the United States must address these questions with renewed intensity and collaborative discussion if our country is to develop and implement a sustainable and successful long-term strategy on China.

The October 30 event had three main elements:

First, there were three panel discussions that explored:

  1. U.S. analyses of Chinese interests, as well as its objectives in the region and the world,
  2. U.S. interests and objectives in Asia, and with China, and
  3. Options for U.S. strategy.

Second, former National Security Advisors Stephen Hadley and Susan Rice participated in a lunchtime “fireside conversation” discussing their views on the future of the U.S.-China relationship and the future of U.S. strategy. A transcript of that important discussion appears here.

Former National Security Advisors Stephen Hadley and Susan Rice participate in a "fireside conversation" on U.S.-China relations at the Brookings Institution on October 30, 2018.
Former National Security Advisors Stephen Hadley and Susan Rice participate in a “fireside conversation” on U.S.-China relations at the Brookings Institution on October 30, 2018.

Third, a public debate was held on the question “Are U.S. and Chinese long-term interests fundamentally incompatible?” The debate participants were David Lampton, Evan Medeiros, Susan Thornton, and Thomas Wright, with Evan Osnos moderating. A video of that lively and instructive debate appears here:

Brookings and Yale intend to schedule follow-up collaborative events to continue to address the major issues addressed at this October 30 workshop.

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