Since President Nixon visited in 1972, China has seen 40 years of unprecedented growth, increasing nominal GDP 140x to $14 trillion (70% of US GDP) and GDP per capita 33x, to $10,500. This was abetted, in part, by the US’s strategy of engagement, which in the late 60’s replaced our prior hostility. A broad set of society-to-society interactions, strategic engagement encompassed economic activity, academic exchange, public diplomacy, access to multi-lateral institutions, military and foreign aid. This approach was based on the (possibly naïve) belief that engagement would yield ‘a kinder, gentler’ China. The strategy succeeded in part, contributing to lifting a billion Chinese out of poverty and helping create the modern China. However, it did not weaken the hold of the Communist Party nor did it eliminate regional tensions.
Given its growth, as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union, China is now the US’s emerging rival for regional, and possibly global leadership. The tensions this creates, compounded by nationalism on both sides, means we need to look beyond engagement as a basis for the Sino-US relationship. The question is what form it may take, and whether we can coexist or conflict is unavoidable.
The two countries are not simply competitors. We have common challenges where cooperation may be essential, including climate change, pandemics, and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as others where our interests differ but may not conflict, such as trade and regional stability. Moreover, we bring different resources to the relationship, with the US having advantages in wealth, technology, and innovation, while China’s strengths include population and production.
The speaker for our annual dinner with the Fulbright Association is our member and Fulbright Scholar, Brantly Womack, Emeritus Professor of Foreign Affairs and Senior Faculty Fellow of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
Prof. Womack well qualified to discuss the evolving relationship between China and the US. He is the author of Asymmetry and International Relationships (Cambridge University Press, 2016), China among Unequals: Asymmetric International Relationships in Asia (World Scientific Press 2010), and of China and Vietnam: The Politics of Asymmetry (Cambridge 2006), as well as over a hundred articles and book chapters. He co-edited with Yuk Wah Chan Borderlands in East and Southeast Asia (Routledge 2017), with Hao Yufan Rethinking the Triangle: Washington, Beijing, Taipei (University of Macau Press and World Scientific Press, 2016), edited China’s Rise in Historical Perspective (Rowman and Littlefield 2010) and Contemporary Chinese Politics in Historical Perspective (Cambridge 1991).
In 2011 Womack received the China Friendship Award for his work with Chinese universities. He holds honorary positions at Jilin University, East China Normal University, and Zhongshan (Sun Yat-Sen) University. He has been a visiting research professor at the East Asia Institute of National University of Singapore, East China Normal University in Shanghai, and China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.
Prof. Womack received his BA in politics and philosophy from the University of Dallas and his PhD in political science from University of Chicago. He was a Fulbright Scholar in philosophy at the University of Munich in 1969-70. He first visited China in 1978 and has been to all 31 Chinese provinces.
6:00 Cocktails 6:45 Dinner 7:45 Address and Discussion
Save The Date: Thursday, December 9th
Dr. Fiona Hill – Robert Bosch senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council