Post Event Summary
China faces tough choices that will determine its future role in the world. This was the consensus among several Asia experts who gathered at AEI on Tuesday to examine the trajectory of the globe's fastest-rising power. In his keynote address, Ambassador Frank Lavin described two major decisions China faces: market rationalism versus economic nationalism in China's economic outlook, and great-power realism versus moralistic nationalism in the country's foreign policy.
A panel then discussed whether China could continue to "have it all": stellar economic growth, an authoritarian political system, and an expansive military. Carolyn Bartholomew of the US-China Economic Security Review Commission stressed that this question drives much of the concern about China's future — can it remain an authoritarian power with substantial resources, and can it export that model abroad?
AEI's Dan Blumenthal suggested that the current situation cannot endure, but emphasized that weak and cautious leadership in Beijing would slow China's recognition of this reality. Phillip Swagel, also of AEI, stressed the limitations of China's current economic system, including its dependence on export-led growth and a serious lack of free-flowing information. Whatever choices China makes, the implications for itself, the US, and the international community will be enormous. As Ambassador Lavin concluded, China must realize that its actions are and will be more consequential than ever, and that the world is watching
Following China’s decennial leadership transition, daunting challenges loom. Specifically, China’s economic growth is flagging amid rising tensions over territorial disputes. What should we expect from the newly appointed Xi Jinping and other members of the new Standing Committee? How can the US preserve economic ties with China without jeopardizing US security interests?
Frank Lavin, former undersecretary of commerce for international trade, will explore these and other questions in his keynote address. A panel discussion on the implications for the US will follow, featuring Carolyn Bartholomew, member of the US-China Economic Security Review Commission and former chief of staff for Representative Nancy Pelosi, as well as AEI scholars Dan Blumenthal and Phillip Swagel, co-authors of “An Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century” (AEI Press, November 2012).
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