Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy

Task Force on U.S.-China Policy

Task Force on U.S.-China Policy

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) speaks with State Councillor Yang Jiechi (R) during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on October 8, 2018 in Beijing, China. (Daisuke Suzuki /Pool/Getty Images)

Two years into the Trump administration, the United States and the People’s Republic of China find their bilateral relationship at a dangerous crossroads. As more stresses and strains beset their relationship, both sides are casting about for redefinitions of their national interest and new policy directions for attaining them.

On February 12, 2019, the Task Force on U.S.-China Policy issued its new report Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy. This report marks the second set of findings issued by a group comprised of China specialists from around the United States convened by Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and the University of California San Diego’s 21st Century China Center.

This year’s Task Force memorandum builds on its 2017 report to identify the fundamental interests of the United States in its relationship with China. These include a fair market-based global economic system, a peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific region, a liberal rules-based political and economic order, and a stable and productive relationship with China. This memorandum focuses on five different issue areas:

  • economics and trade 
  • regional security 
  • global governance 
  • human rights
  • China’s influence-seeking and interference abroad   

To further these interests the Task Force proposes a strategy of "smart competition." "Smart competition" involves building on American strengths to compete effectively with China while maintaining as much cooperation as possible in areas of common interest; building international coalitions to press China to follow international laws and norms; negotiating resolutions of key disputes wherever feasible; and preserving and updating those international institutions that have enhanced the welfare and security of both countries and the rest of the world for so many decades.

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The report is available here.

Launch Events

Washington, D.C. Launch

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New York City Launch

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Los Angeles Event

April 1, 2019 - 6:00 to 8:00pm

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Co-organized by: Asia Society Southern California, Sunnylands, Pacific Council, & 21st Century China Center at UCSD

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Task Force Biographies

Task Force participants endorse the overall findings of the report, with individual dissents included at the end of the report. They participated in their individual, not institutional, capacities. 

Chairs Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society. He is a former professor and dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Schell is the author of fifteen books, ten of them about China, and a contributor to numerous edited volumes as well as magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Nation, and The New York Review of Books. His most recent book is Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the 21st Century, with John Delury (2013). Schell worked for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia, covered the war in Indochina as a journalist, and has traveled widely in China since the mid-70s. Schell is the recipient of many prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Overseas Press Club Award, and the Harvard-Stanford Shorenstein Prize in Asian Journalism. L. Shirk is chair of the 21st Century China Center and research professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy. She previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state from 1997 to 2000, where she was responsible for U.S. policy toward China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mongolia. Shirk founded and continues to lead the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, an unofficial forum for discussions of security issues. Her book, China: Fragile Superpower (2008), helped frame the debate on China policy in the United States and other countries. Her most recent book, Changing Media, Changing China, was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press.

Participants Barshefsky is a senior international partner at WilmerHale. She joined the firm after serving as the U.S. Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001, and acting as deputy USTR from 1993 to 1996. As the USTR and a member of the president’s cabinet, she was responsible for the negotiation of hundreds of complex market access, regulatory, and investment agreements with virtually every major country in the world. Barshefsky is best known internationally as the architect and chief negotiator of China’s historic WTO agreement, as well as global agreements in financial services, telecommunications, intellectual property rights, high-technology products, and cyberspace. Her legal career in the field has encompassed international litigation, commercial negotiations, investment and regulatory advice, and dispute resolution, and she has written and lectured extensively both in the United States and abroad. M. Campbell is chairman and chief executive officer of The Asia Group, LLC, a strategic advisory and capital management group specializing in the Asia-Pacific region. He also serves as chairman of the board of the Center for a New American Security, as a non-resident fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, and as vice chairman of the East-West Center in Hawaii. He was also appointed as the Henry A. Kissinger Fellow at the McCain Institute for 2018. From 2009 to 2013, Campbell served as the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, where he is widely credited as being a key architect of the “pivot to Asia.” For advancing a comprehensive U.S. strategy, Secretary Hillary Clinton awarded him the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award (2013). He is the author or editor of ten books, most recently The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia (2016). Campbell received his doctorate in international relations from Brasenose College at Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.


Thomas J. Christensen is professor of public and international affairs and director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University. He arrived in 2018 from Princeton University, where he was William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War, director of the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, and faculty director of the Masters of Public Policy Program and the Truman Scholars Program. From 2006 to 2008 Christensen served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for relations with China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. His research and teaching focus on China’s foreign relations, the international relations of East Asia, and international security. His most recent book, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power (2015), was an editors’ choice at the New York Times Book Review, a “Book of the Week” on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and the Arthur Ross Book Award Silver Medalist for 2016 at the Council on Foreign Relations. Christensen has also taught at Cornell University and MIT. He received his M.A. in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.


Elizabeth C. Economy is the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. She has published widely on both Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Her most recent book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State (2018), analyzes the contradictory nature of reform under President Xi Jinping. She is the author (with Michael Levi) of By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World (2013) and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future (2004). Economy received her M.A. from Stanford University and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Karl Eikenberry is the director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative and faculty member at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. He is a faculty member of the Center for International Security and Cooperation and a Professor of Practice at Stanford University. He is also an affiliate with the Freeman Spogli Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, and The Europe Center. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 until July 2011 and had a thirty-five-year career in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant General. His military assignments included postings with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental United States, Hawaii, Korea, Italy, and Afghanistan as the Commander of the American-led Coalition forces from 2005 to 2007. Ambassador Eikenberry is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, has master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian studies and Stanford University in political science, and was a National Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

M. Taylor Fravel is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and member of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studies international relations, with a focus on international security, China, and East Asia. Fravel’s first book, Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China’s Territorial Disputes, was published by Princeton University Press in 2008. He is currently completing Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy since 1949 (forthcoming in 2019). He serves on the editorial boards of the International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, and The China Quarterly, and is a member of the board of directors for the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He is also the principal investigator of the Maritime Awareness Project. Fravel is a graduate of Middlebury College and Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. 


Paul Gewirtz is the Potter Stewart Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School and the Director of Yale’s Paul Tsai China Center. He teaches and writes in various legal and policy fields, including constitutional law, U.S. foreign policy and law, U.S.-China relations, Chinese law, law and literature, antidiscrimination law, and comparative law. Yale’s Paul Tsai China Center, which Professor Gewirtz founded in 1999 as The China Law Center, focuses on issues of Chinese law and U.S.-China relations. From 1997 to 1998, on leave from Yale, he served in the Clinton Administration as Special Representative for the Presidential Rule of Law Initiative, where he developed and led the U.S.-China initiative to cooperate in the legal field that President Clinton and China’s President Jiang Zemin launched at their 1997 Summit meeting. Before joining the Yale faculty, Gewirtz served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He received his B.A. degree summa cum laude from Columbia University and his law degree from Yale. Hart is a senior fellow and director of China policy at Center for American Progress. She focuses on U.S. foreign policy toward China and works to identify new opportunities for bilateral cooperation, particularly on energy, climate change, and cross-border investment. Her research also covers China’s political system, market regulatory reforms, and how China’s domestic and foreign policy developments affect the United States. Before joining CAP, she worked as a project consultant for the Aspen Institute International Digital Economy Accords project. She also worked on Qualcomm’s China business development team, where she provided technology market and regulatory analysis to guide Qualcomm operations in Greater China. Hart has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego.


Arthur R. Kroeber is head of research at Gavekal, a financial-services firm based in Hong Kong; founder of the China-focused Gavekal Dragonomics research service; and editor of China Economic Quarterly. Before founding Dragonomics in 2002, he spent fifteen years as a financial and economic journalist in China and South Asia. He is a senior non-resident fellow of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center, an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. His book, China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

Winston Lord was U.S. ambassador to China from 1985 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan, and served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. In the 1970s, he was special assistant to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and then director of the State Department policy planning staff. During this period, he was on every China trip and attended every meeting that Presidents Nixon and Ford and Dr. Kissinger had with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping, and was one of two American drafters of the Shanghai Communiqué. In the 1960s, Lord served in the Pentagon and the Foreign Service. Outside of government, his service has included president of the Council on Foreign Relations, co-chairman of the International Rescue Committee, and chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy. He has also been a board member or advisor to many NGOs, including the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the Trilateral Commission, and the Women’s Tennis Association. Among the honors that Ambassador Lord has received are the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Defense Department’s Outstanding Performance Award, and several honorary degrees. S. Medeiros is the Penner Family Chair in Asia Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His research and teaching focuses on the international politics of East Asia, U.S.-China relations, and China’s foreign and national security policies. He previously served for six years on the staff of the National Security Council as director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia, and then as special assistant to the president and senior director for Asia. In recent years, Medeiros advised multinational companies on Asia in his role as managing director for Asia-Pacific at Eurasia Group. Prior to joining the White House, Medeiros worked for seven years as a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. From 2007 to 2008, he also served as policy advisor to Secretary Hank Paulson working on the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue at the Treasury Department. Medeiros holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, in addition to an MPhil degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge, and an M.A. in China studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. J. Nathan is the Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He studies the politics and foreign policy of China, political participation and political culture in Asia, and the international human rights regime. Nathan’s books include Chinese Democracy (1985), The Tiananmen Papers (2001), China’s Search for Security (2012), and Will China Democratize? (2013). He has served at Columbia as director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and as chair of the political science department. He is the regular Asia book reviewer for Foreign Affairs and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Contemporary China, China Information, and others. Nathan received his M.A. in East Asian regional studies and Ph.D. in political science, both from Harvard University.


Barry Naughton is the Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at University of California, San Diego. He is an authority on the Chinese economy, with an emphasis on issues relating to industry, trade, finance, and China’s transition to a market economy. He has addressed economic reform in Chinese cities, trade and trade disputes between China and the United States, and economic interactions among China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. His books include The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth (2006) and Growing Out of the Plan: Chinese Economic Reform, 1978-1993 (1995), which received the Ohira Memorial Prize. Naughton received his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.


Daniel H. Rosen is a founding partner of Rhodium Group and leads the firm’s work on China, India, and Asia. Rosen has twenty-six years of professional experience analyzing China’s economy, commercial sector, and external interactions. He is widely recognized for his contributions on the U.S.-China economic relationship. He is affiliated with a number of American think tanks focused on international economics, and is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University. From 2000 to 2001, Rosen was senior advisor for international economic policy at the White House National Economic Council and National Security Council. Rosen graduated with distinction from the Graduate School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University (M.S.F.S.) and with honors in Asian studies and economics from the University of Texas, Austin (B.A.).


David Shambaugh is the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science and International Affairs and director of the China Policy Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He has been a member of the board of directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, International Institute of Strategic Studies, U.S. Asia Pacific Council, and a number of editorial boards and academic review bodies. Shambaugh has published more than thirty books and numerous articles and chapters. His most recent books are The China Reader: Rising Power (2016), China Goes Global: The Partial Power (2013), and China’s Future (2016); the latter two were both selected by The Economist as “Best Books of the Year.” He is currently working on his next book, Where Great Powers Meet: America & China in Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, 2019). He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.

The Task Force on U.S.-China Policy is a project of Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and the University of California San Diego’s 21st Century China Center in partnership with the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. 



In Collaboration With:




This project was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, with additional support from The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, Henry Luce Foundation, and The Janet and Arthur Ross Foundation.

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Washington, D.C. Launch Event

New York Launch Event

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