Wednesday August 12, 2020


The Mayflower Hotel

Washington, D.C.

The U.S.-China Policy Foundation hosted a luncheon discussion with a delegation from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on May 30 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.  This luncheon was one of the first public events attended by the CPPCC in the United States since the 1970s.  Hosting this visiting delegation from Beijing gave the U.S.-China Policy Foundation an opportunity to promote increased U.S.-China understanding through people-to-people exchanges and dialogue.

Prior to our event, the Chinese Embassy sent USCPF a list of topics the delegation was interested in discussing.  These topics included, “other models of democracy apart from electoral democracy,” “suggestions for China’s economic and social development,” “ways to balance industrialization, urbanization, and environmental protection,” and “suggestions for developing China-U.S. relations.”  In order to promote a fruitful and efficient discussion, USCPF asked Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. to serve as moderator of this luncheon.

After a delicious lunch, Ambassador Freeman began our discussion by introducing the members of the CPPCC delegation and welcoming them to our event.  The CPPCC is a political and organizational body for implementing the basic political system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the Chinese People’s Congress (CPC) and an important component of China’s political system.  In its broadest sense, the CPPCC carries out the principle of, “great unity, great solidarity, and embracing all representative figures.”  The delegation was lead by the honorable Liu Xiaofeng, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC.

After a brief introduction by Vice Chairman Liu, Ambassador Freeman opened the room up for discussion.  Dr. Jeremy Wu of the Committee of 100 began our discussion with a question on China’s new reform plan for urbanization.  Dr. Wu expressed concern for the quality of data the Chinese are using to create their reform plan. He fears that bad data has the potential to lessen the effectiveness of the urban reform.  In response to this, Vice Chairman Liu said that the Chinese government is aware of this problem and is working to improve it.  Moreover, he said that the CPPCC is also concerned with this problem and they believe that the urbanization plan should not be focused on building big cities but instead on smaller towns.  Vice Chairman Liu also emphasized that when planning urban reform it is also important to consider the rights of the people and find ways to assimilate migrants into the cities.

Dr. Yukon Huang of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace continued the conversation by asking the CPPCC if they considered that China’s cities might actually be too small, rather than too big like most people assume.  According to a recent Urban China Report, China’s cities are actually smaller than some of the world’s largest cities such as New York City, London, and Tokyo.  Dr. Huang suggested that focusing more on building up Chinese cities’ infrastructure instead of limiting their growth would be more beneficial in the long-run.  In response to this thought provoking idea, a member of the CPPCC delegation expressed confidence that China can control an urban transformation without negative externalities if managed properly.

The conversation then shifted to a discussion of U.S.-China relations.  Dr. Kenneth Liberthal of The Brookings Institution expressed a renewed concern from both China and the United States influences the direction of the U.S.-China relationship.  He specifically cited the recent developments in maritime disputes and how the U.S. and China view these disputes differently.  Dr. Lieberthal suggested that the top leaders on both sides need to have, “quiet discussions” on how to establish mutual confidence and progress in their relationship as well as move away from emotional accusations.  Chances to do this include the upcoming APEC Summit and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.  Ms. Zhao Mei of the CPPCC agreed with Dr. Lieberthal and suggested that diversifying China’s relationships with the United States will also help achieve mutual understanding.

Mr. Robert Daly, director the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, continued our discussion of U.S-China relations by suggesting that perhaps it is time to retire the “great power relations” phrase to describe U.S.-China relations.  As the phrase is not used on both sides (China constantly uses it and the U.S. never does), Mr. Daly contended that sticking to the phrase “U.S.-China Relations”  would better facilitate communication. Vice Chairman Sun Yuanliang, of the Liaoning Provincial committee of the CPPCC, countered this suggestion by noting the phrase “U.S.-China relations” takes on different meanings at different times.  In the past it meant confrontation and now it means communication and cooperation.  Therefore, it is important to have a clear, specific understanding of the nature of the relationship and thus it is good to use the phrase “great power relations.”

Former Senator and current CEO of the Motion Pictures of America Association Chris Dodd shifted the focus of our discussion by saying that U.S.-China relations in the film industry are very positive and that he sees huge potential for how U.S.-China relations within the film industry could positively influence U.S.-China relations in general.

Before our luncheon concluded Vice Chairman Liu expressed that despite the short time frame he felt the meeting was very enlightening, and that he will bring the opinions and suggestions back to Beijing to research them further.  He concluded by saying that no matter what we call it, the future of our bilateral relations is good and bright and with our combined efforts we can bring relations to an even better level.

USCPF’s President Chi Wang, concluded our luncheon discussion by thanking everyone for attending the event and in his closing remarks emphasized the importance of exchange and gathering of both sides for the free flow of ideas.  The U.S.-China Policy Foundation was honored to host this event and would like to thank all the discussion participants.