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Coexistence 2.0: U.S.-China Relations in a Changing World

November 18, 2022 @ 8:00 am 6:00 pm

U.S.-China relations are increasingly tense. But both countries need to forge a path that allows for cooperation and competition—Coexistence 2.0. Join us as top experts discuss the way forward.

The U.S.-China relationship is the most important in the world, with decisions affecting the world’s chances for global peace, prosperity, and sustainability. Each country has its own view of what its role, and the other’s role, in the world should be in the 21st Century. These views are not entirely in sync. This has created tensions, and could become more destabilizing. However, it’s in the interests of both countries to find a way forward together that leaves room for cooperation, competition, perhaps even confrontation, without leading to war — Coexistence 2.0, a more complex and engaged form of coexistence than the United States had with the Soviet Union in the last century.

Major questions framing what is possible include what China wants, how China’s domestic realities affect President Xi Jinping’s dream of “rejuvenating” China and, the actions he can take at home and abroad, how much and in what ways the United States and its allies can influence Beijing’s decision-making, and what greater global forces and trends are at play, affecting what the United States, China, or the two of them together, can do or might want to do.

This symposium aims to provoke thought on these questions, and to deepen understanding of the U.S.-China relationship. The conference is co-presented by the Harvard University Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Harvard Kennedy Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia, with support from the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center.

Friday November 18th

8:00-8:10AM: Welcome

Mark Wu, Director, Harvard University Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Henry L. Stimson Professor, Harvard Law School
Tony Saich, Director, Harvard Kennedy School Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia

8:10 – 9:10AM: Chinese Views on U.S.-China Relations

Two influential Chinese experts share their views of changing U.S.-China relations, in conversation with the moderator.

Yasheng Huang, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management, MIT
Wei Da, Director, Center for International Security and Strategy, Tsinghua University
Daojiong Zha, Professor of International Political Economy, School of International Studies, Peking University

9:10-9:20AM: Break
9:20-10:30AM: China’s Realities at Home

What domestic realities and challenges are driving and affecting the Chinese government’s goals and strategy, at home and abroad, in terms of Communist Party politics, the state of China’s economy, and social factors?

Tony Saich, Director, Harvard Kennedy School Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia
Arthur Kroeber, Founding Partner, Head of Research, Gavekal
Ya-Wen Lei, Associate Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
David Shambaugh, Director, China Policy Program, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Susan Shirk, Chair, 21st Century China Center, Research Professor, UC San Diego

10:45-11:55AM: Competition & Cooperation in Security, Ideas and Rules

China and the United States are competing on multiple fronts, including in promoting their values and ideas and setting international rules and standards. China is challenging and hoping to end the United States’ long-held role as predominant Indo-Pacific power, by building a “String of Pearls” presence in ports throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, establishing a presence near chokepoints to strategic waterways (Djibouti, Gwadar), and accelerating the modernization of China’s overall military capabilities, including developing a blue water navy capability. What does Coexistence 2.0 look like on all these fronts? Where is there still room for cooperation, and where is competition inevitable? How can the two sides avoid a hot war?

Graham Allison, Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Andrew Erickson, Professor of Strategy and Research Director in the Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute
Taylor Fravel, Director, Security Studies Program, MIT
Joseph Nye, Professor Emeritus and Former Dean, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Jessica Chen Weiss, Professor of Government, Cornell University

12:00-1:15PM: Lunch
1:15-2:25PM: Competition & Cooperation in Trade, Investment, and Technology

A look at U.S.-China competition in global trade and investment, especially emergent technologies and infrastructure. To what extent should both sides engage in greater decoupling for national security reasons? What do developing nations want, how has China’s BRI changed the landscape, and how effectively are the United States and its allies responding?  Even amid growing strategic competition, can both parties work to define common norms of behavior in cyberspace and to cooperate on emergent technologies to address common problems?

Mark Wu, Director, Harvard University Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Henry L. Stimson Professor, Harvard Law School
Elizabeth Economy (invited), Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Meg Rithmire, Professor of Business of Administration, Harvard Business School
Dan Rosen, Founder, Rhodium Group

2:25-2:35PM: Break
2:35-3:45PM: How Asian Countries See China and U.S.-China Competition

Much of Asia is stuck in the middle between longstanding relationships with the United States and the prospect of potential economic opportunity coming from China. How do Asian countries view China’s rise—as a threat or an economic opportunity? Are they fearful of falling into the “debt trap” that international analysts have warned of, or do they welcome Chinese investment? How are they affected by U.S. trade sanctions on China? What do they hope the United States will offer?

Fatema Z. Sumar, Executive Director, Harvard University Center for International Development
Ian Chong, Associate Professor of Political Science, National University of Singapore
Bopha Phorn, Nieman fellow, independent journalist based in Phnom Penh
Ed Case (invited), U.S. Congressman; co-founder, Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus

3:45-4:00PM: Break
4:00-5:10PM: Toward Coexistence 2.0: What Should the U.S. Do?

If Coexistence 2.0 is to allow healthy competition and even some cooperation while avoiding unnecessary war, what needs to happen to get there, recognizing that China aspires to greater global influence than it already has? How can these two great powers collaborate more on global issues that matter, like climate change? What is U.S. policy already doing well to support U.S. interests and the rules-based international order?  What could U.S. policy do better? Can the Thucydides trap be avoided, and how much do both sides really want to avoid it?

Bill Alford, Vice Dean, Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Harvard Law School; Director, East Asian Legal Studies
Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair, Chinese Studies, CSIS
Melanie Hart, China Policy Coordinator for the Office of Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, Director of China Policy, Center for American Progress
Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society
Robert S. Ross, Research Associate, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Professor of Political Science, Boston College

5:10-5:50PM: What Does History Tell Us?

Winston Lord accompanied Henry Kissinger on his secret trip to China in 1971, and he has been helping to shape U.S. policy and watching China closely ever since. Lord served as ambassador to China from 1985-1989, tumultuous years that saw the country’s rapid opening up and then the crackdown on the 1989 democracy movement. He served as Assistant Secretary of State from 1993–1997.

Ambassador Winston Lord, Former Assistant Secretary of State; Former Ambassador to China
In conversation with Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society

5:50-6:00PM: Closing Remarks

Mark Wu, Director, Harvard University Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Henry L. Stimson Professor, Harvard Law School
Tony Saich, Director, Harvard Kennedy School Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia


November 18, 2022
8:00 am – 6:00 pm


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School


Milstein West, Wasserstein Hall

1585 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States

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