Throughout the United States, local leaders are stepping onto the world stage. Governors and mayors have expanded their international portfolios, including by launching initiatives to attract investment and jointly address transnational challenges like climate change. While economic interests previously guided much of sub-national outreach, cultural exchange and scientific partnership are also becoming important forces of attraction.
The U.S.-China relationship is no exception to this trend. Despite the shift in Washington toward viewing China as a strategic competitor, many state and local leaders continue to explore ways to seize opportunities for closer collaboration with Chinese counterparts. What are the key motivations for this outreach at the sub-national level? Are such efforts generating positive benefits? What effect, if any, are deepening relations between local governments in the United States and China having on the overall bilateral relationship? Are there risks from deepening sub-national U.S.-China relations that deserve greater scrutiny?
On July 29, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted a public event to explore the costs, benefits, and impacts of sub-national exchanges between the United States and China. Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden joined a keynote conversation moderated by award-winning journalist and author James Fallows. A high-level panel of experts and practitioners then convened to discuss the potential promises and pitfalls of sub-national connections within the U.S.-China relationship.
Each session included time for audience Q&A.