Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program Convenes 20th Annual Conference

In March, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies hosted the 20th annual conference of the Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program (CWP). Founded in 2004, CWP is committed to integrating the advanced study of China’s foreign relations into the field of international relations by bringing exceptional young scholars whose work bridges China studies and international relations together with recognized scholars in these fields.

This year’s conference was introduced by CWP’s co-directors, Thomas J. Christensen, James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, and Alastair Iain Johnston, Gov. James Albert Noe and Linda Noe Laine Professor of China in World Affairs, Harvard University. CWP alumni participated in four panel discussions, each moderated by Harvard University professors, examining China’s effect on policymaking across a range of major geopolitical issues, from the slowing economy to the Belt and Road Initiative and the lessons China are drawing from recent wars. Video for all four panels can be found below, along with the conference introduction, which also features comments from Fairbank Center Director Mark Wu.

Introduction: CWP co-directors Alastair Iain Johnston and Thomas J. Christensen provide historical background on the program, characterize its mission, and describe the scope of this year’s conference and its panels. Mark Wu, Henry L. Stimson Professor, Harvard Law School, and Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, concludes the introduction by offering reflections on how attitudes toward China and its path to progress have changed over the decades leading up to this increasingly complicated present moment.

Panel #1 – Measuring China’s ‘Influence’ in International Affairs: Audrye Wong, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Southern California; Injoo Sohn, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Seoul National University; Andrew Chubb, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Religion, Lancaster University; and Enze Han, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, and Public Administration, University of Hong Kong, join moderator Elizabeth J. Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government and Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, to discuss the challenges of measuring and understanding China’s international influence, as well as the various means through which that influence can occur, including economic, diplomatic, and cultural channels.

Panel #2 – Foreign Policy Implications of the PRC’s Economic Slowdown: Yeling Tan, Professor of Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford; Hong Zhang, China Public Policy Postdoctoral Fellow, Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School; and Andrew Kennedy, Associate Professor in the Policy and Governance Program, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, join moderator Meg Rithmire, F. Warren MacFarlan Associate Professor, Business, Government, and International Economy Unit, Harvard Business School, for a conversation about the present and future of China’s economy and how the rest of the world should respond.

Panel #3 – Prospects for the Belt and Road Initiative: Maria Adele Carrai, Assistant Professor of Global China Studies, New York University, Shanghai; Eyck Freymann, Hoover Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; and Min Ye, Professor of International Relations, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, join moderator Rana Mitter, S.T. Lee Chair Professor of U.S.-Asia Relations, Harvard Kennedy School, to assess the state of China’s keystone infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, following the COVID-19 pandemic, including how China is dealing with debtor countries, its allocation of funds into banking and financial services, and the scope of its developing influence as a result of the initiative.

Panel #4 – What Chinese Leaders Are Learning from Recent Wars: Tyler Jost, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Brown University; Dawn Murphy, Associate Professor of National Security Strategy, National War College; and Andrew S. Erickson, Professor of Strategy, U.S. Naval War College, China Maritime Studies Institute, and Fairbank Center Associate in Research, join moderator Alexandra Vacroux, Executive Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, to analyze the available evidence pertaining to China’s response to the war in Ukraine (Professor Jost from the Ukrainian side, Professor Erickson from the Russian side) and the Israel-Hamas conflict (Professor Murphy).