Executive Roundtable with the Task Force on U.S.-China Policy

(President's Circle Event)

Orville Schell of the Center on US-China Relations and Susan Shirk of the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UCSD joined Asia Society in Silicon Valley (July 10) and San Francisco (July 11) to discuss the Task Force on U.S.-China Policy's 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 built on its 2017 report to identify the fundamental interests of the United States in its relationship with China. These included 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. To further these interests the Task Force proposed 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.

At the Roundtables, Orville and Susan emphasized the pivotal moment that US-China relations are at, and the increasingly authoritarian nature of Xi Jinping's presidency. Now is the time, they argued, for the US to apply pressure and deterrence ,with a clear set of achievable demands and negotiating strategy-- while not closing the door to cooperation with China as well. Many of both audiences asked questions regarding the report, arguing with some aspects while praising others with examples drawn from their own experiences. They pointed out it would be a disaster for American universities to lose access to the immense talent of Chinese students over fear of IP theft; that many Chinese want China to be seen as a benevolent, cooperative power; and that many people in China hope that international pressure might be able to change China's current approach. A delegation from the Chinese consulate sought to defend China's actions and point out what they perceived as American mistakes and lack of consistency. The Roundtables ended with a closing statement by Asia Society Northern California Chair Ken Wilcox, who praised the authors of the report while also mentioning the hard work necessary to ensure peaceful US-China relations. 

About Our Roundtables: Asia Society Northern California hosts our private Executive Roundtable Series with industry leaders every month in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Program topics are around headline news, business analysis, and critical issues coming out of Asia. These monthly briefings, launched in September 2017, have grown in popularity to generate wait-lists quickly. Most events are off-the-record to encourage open debate and discussion.