China and Inner Asia
The US-China relationship is under increasing stress: the US government now defines China as a revisionist rival; a trade war has begun and is likely to escalate; and cultural/diplomatic ties are at a recent low, with increasing attention focused on spying and influence operations. In this environment, and given high levels of strategic mistrust between China and the US, building cooperation in the bilateral relationship and ensuring that such cooperation is positively perceived by other countries and stakeholders has become increasingly difficult. The Pacific Community Initiative (PCI), a collaborative effort spearheaded by a bilateral Chinese and American scholarly working group organized by Peking University and Johns Hopkins SAIS, explores how the US and China can cooperate to ensure medium- and long-term peace and prosperity and eventually create the conditions to promote effective institutionalization in the Asia-Pacific region. This session will discuss a just-published (Winter 2018) monograph presenting the initial conclusions and policy suggestions of the PCI working group. The monograph develops a long-term strategic vision with regard to the three key pillars of US-China cooperation (security, economic, cultural). Economic ties, the most stable pillar of the bilateral relationship since 1989, can only be maintained through clearer consensus on market norms and new agreements on regional and international governance that enable longer-term “healthy competition.” In security realms, the initiative looks beyond spheres of influence to explore ways to mitigate regional rivalries. And the monograph argues that prospects for cooperation in non-traditional security seem greater and could serve as “momentum-building” issues, yet mutual mistrust adds difficulties and requires that the two countries first build consensus and devote sufficient domestic resources. This session includes monograph co-authors and external commenters, providing the first opportunity to discuss the conclusions and policy suggestions outlined in the monograph with the broader academic community. As many of the conclusions discussed are likely to spur debate, the session will encourage early and active audience participation.