Tuesday September 17, 2019


October 9, 2015

Confucius Institute U.S. Center
Washington DC

The USCPF recently hosted a panel discussion titled “President Xi in the U.S.: Takeaways from Xi Jinping’s Recent Visit.” Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. Ambassador to China, Singapore, and Indonesia, moderated the event. The panelists included five distinguished China experts: Mr. Douglass Paal, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dr. Robert Sutter, Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliot School of International Affairs of George Washington University, Ambassador Richard Solomon, Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation, Dr. Yukon Huang, Senior Associate at the Asia Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Mr. Alan Romberg, Director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center.

Ambassador Roy kicked off the discussion by emphasizing the importance of the Sino-U.S. relationship and arguing that our ties are stronger than some scholars would have us believe. He argued that Xi Jinping’s recent visit is an “action forcing event” that compels the U.S. and China to address certain contentious issues such as cybersecurity, the environment, and the South China Sea territorial dispute. He then turned the floor over to Mr. Paal, who spoke on the topic of the U.S. and China’s misperceptions of each other’s leverage, positing that China is searching for alternatives to the 1945 Bretton Woods system that dictates the norms of the current economic environment. China’s economy is more sustainable than expected, Mr. Paal argued, and China is capable of continuing to perform well economically.

Dr. Sutter spoke next on the challenges that America faces with a more assertive China, arguing that in an attempt to depart from the “status quo vs. rising power” trap, the PRC promulgated the “peaceful rise theory.” He insisted that both China and the U.S. benefit from positive engagement. Discussing the president specifically, Dr. Sutter claimed that Xi has changed China and functions very differently than previous Chinese leaders. Ambassador Solomon discussed President Xi’s double message, especially focusing on President Xi’s speech in Seattle that emphasized China’s desire to forge a “win-win” relationship with the U.S. He also brought up China’s recent military parade, arguing that it was aimed at both a domestic and international audience.

Next, Dr. Huang explored the economic implications of the U.S.-China relationship, as evidenced in Obama and Xi’s prioritization of economic issues during Xi’s recent visit. Reiterating that China is afraid of the “middle income trap” in which countries who achieve middle income status struggle to transition to high income status, Dr. Huang argued that the next ten to fifteen years in Sino-U.S. relations will likely be focused on the transfer of technology. Mr. Romberg discussed Xi’s trip in relation to Taiwan, arguing that the Taiwan issue has recently faded away to the background of Sino-U.S. topics, replaced with economic ties, cybersecurity, and other prominent issues. He posited that the U.S. and PRC have reached a comfortable status quo in which the U.S. agrees not to turn its back on Taiwan but also does not support Taiwanese autonomy or independence. He further assessed the PRC/DPRK alliance, arguing that although the U.S. and China are not aligned totally on the topic of North Korea, there are certainly some areas of agreement.

After an insightful Q & A session and concluding remarks by Ambassador Roy, guests and panelists were invited to enjoy refreshments. The USCPF would like to thank the all the participants and guests for attending this enlightening panel discussion.