On October 30th, 2018, many members of the CDSTT attended the China-US Relations Forum held by Peking University’s School of International Studies (PKUSIS) at the invitation of the PKUSIS Alumni Association. During the event, members of the CDSTT shown great interest in the statements and speeches made by the scholars from PKU at the forum, and displayed a high level of academic knowledge. Not only were they able to gain insights on the China-US relationship from the scholars, but they also received opportunities to talk to Cai Wu, Shen Jianguo, Hu Yixiong, Wu Qiang, Jia Qingguo and other authority figures from the Chinese academia.
Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, China-US relations went through several phases of instability. Under the background of stalemate in trade negotiations and uncertainty for the future between China and the US, Professor Jia Qingguo, the Dean of PKUSIS, was sent by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Washington this October. Given this chance, the PKUSIS Alumni Association invited Professor Jia, along with Professor Zhao Quansheng, Director of American University’s Center for Asian Studies, and Professor Gao Zheng from University of Maryland’s History Department to attend the China-US Relations Forum, and give their insights on issues such as China-US Relations, current situation in Northeast Asia and the comparison of soft power between China and the US. More than 60 people, including PKUSIS alumni from the DMV area and students from GWU and MU. The leaders of PKUSIS Alumni Association also joined the meeting via video conferencing.
After the opening ceremony, PKUSIS Alumni Zhu Sha hosted the forum, which took more than two hours from the speeches to the Q&A sessions. First, Professor Jia Qingguo started his discourse on the topic “Will there be a Cold War II between China and the United States.” Professor Jia believed that according to the standards of the US-Soviet standoff during the first Cold War, a true “Cold War” must satisfy three conditions: full-scale military confrontation, full-scale ideological rivalry and economic isolation between the two parties. While there are regional conflicts between the US and China in places such as the South China Sea, there is no full-scale military confrontation between the two countries. The introduction of “China Model” did not serve to impose Chinese ideology upon other countries, but rather to show the world that the Washington Consensus is not the only way to success. In fact, with China’s Opening Up and Reform, its values and beliefs became increasingly similar to that of the United States and other developed countries. The economic relations between China and the US are complementary and mutually beneficial, and there’s no way that the two will be cut off from each other in the future. The United States and China, said Professor Jia, one as a superpower while the other as an emerging superpower, are both gainers under the current international order, and so the two countries need more cooperation. Meanwhile, most US allies would not want a Cold War between China and the US, as they don’t want to be caught up in a potential conflict. Because of this, the probability of a Sino-American Cold War will be minuscule.
Professor Zhao Quansheng of AU, meanwhile, focused on President Trump, international relations in East Asia and China’s response to recent changes. According to Professor Zhao, the Trump administration is steadfast in its “America First” economic and trade policies. Both parties in Washington shared their views on China in a bipartisan fashion, and both wanted the United States to play a dominant role in international relations. For example, the way Trump administration pushed through USMCA can set a predecessor for the potential US-Japan trade negotiations. Professor Zhao believes that these principles should be applied to the trade negotiations between China and the United States and that a US-led effort can be turned into a China-US led effort. On military strategy, Professor Zhao said that both China and the United States should pay premium attention to principles of crisis prevention and control. Finally, the Taiwan issue remains the most sensitive and dangerous issue between China and the United States, for that China has no room for compromise when it comes to the status of Taiwan.
Lastly, Professor Gao Zheng from Maryland University began his discourse on the comparison of soft power between China and the United States, and the contributions PKU alumni made to Sino-American relations. Professor Gao Zheng believes that culture can only serve as carrier and resource for soft power, but culture itself is not soft power. The United States, which built up their cultural brand via Disney and other resources, Japan and South Korea, which had their cultural products, all created substantial wealth and influence through their soft power. According to Professor Gao Zheng, soft power should be compatible with the mainstream discourse in the world, and the use of soft power should have no limits. Because of this, a country should keep an open mind for cultural exchange with other parts of the world and should allow its own culture to take different forms in the process of transforming and blending with other cultures. To Professor Gao, the most attractive culture should be a combination of both Western and Oriental cultures, both modernity and tradition, both localization and globalization. Soft power and hard power go hand in hand. “Hard power without soft power has no root, soft power without hard power has no foot,” said Professor Gao. Finally, Professor Gao talked in depth on the contributions of generations of PKU alumni made toward Sino-American exchange, from the Tongwen Guan era of the Qing Dynasty to the National Southwestern Associated University during the war of resistance.