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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).
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Danielle Pletka, AEI
Frank Lavin, Export Now and Former Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade
Question and Answer Session
Carolyn Bartholomew, US-China Economic and Security Review Commission & BlueGreen Alliance
Dan Blumenthal, AEI
Phillip Swagel, AEI
Danielle Pletka, AEI
Question and Answer Session
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For media inquiries, please contact MediaServices@aei.org, 202.862.5829.
Carolyn Bartholomew has served on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission for six terms, including as chairman in 2007 and 2009 and as vice chairman in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Bartholomew has worked at senior levels in the US Congress, serving as counsel, legislative director, and chief of staff to current House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Bartholomew was a professional staff member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In these positions, she was integrally involved in developing US policies on international affairs and security matters. She has particular expertise in US-China relations, including issues related to trade, human rights, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Bartholomew led efforts in the establishment and funding of global AIDS programs and the promotion of human rights and democratization in countries worldwide. She was a member of the first Presidential Delegation to Africa to Investigate the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Children, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Congressional Staff Roundtable on Asian Political and Security Issues. Currently, Bartholomew is the vice president for development and corporate initiatives at the BlueGreen Alliance, and also serves on the board of directors of the Kaiser Aluminum Corporation and the nonprofit organization Asia Catalyst. She is a member of the State Bar of California.
Dan Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at AEI, where he focuses on East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations. He is also a founding board member of the Alexander Hamilton Society, and serves on the boards of the Project 2049 Institute and the US-Taiwan Business Council. He recently became a research associate at the National Asia Research Program, a joint undertaking of the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He served on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission from 2005–12, and has been a member of the academic advisory board for the congressional US-China Working Group. During George W. Bush's first administration, Blumenthal was the senior director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia in the secretary of defense’s Office of International Security Affairs. Blumenthal is the co-author of “An Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century” (AEI Press, November 2012). He has authored articles and op-eds for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, as well as for numerous edited volumes, including Strategic Asia 2012-2013 by the National Bureau of Asian Research.
Frank Lavin is the CEO and founder of Export Now, which helps companies sell their products online in China from their home offices. Lavin also serves as chairman of Edelman Asia Pacific, working with companies on regulatory challenges and sensitive government-relations issues. Lavin previously served as under secretary for international trade at the US Department of Commerce from 2005 to 2007. In that capacity, he was lead trade negotiator for both China and India, and was the department’s senior policy official responsible for commercial policy, export promotion, and trade negotiations across the globe. Lavin was the US ambassador to the Republic of Singapore from 2001–05, where his duties included helping negotiate the landmark US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Lavin served in senior finance and management positions in Hong Kong and Singapore with Bank of America and Citibank. Earlier in his career, Lavin served in the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations, working in the Department of Commerce, US Department of State, National Security Council, and White House. Lavin served as director of the Office of Political Affairs in the White House from 1987 to 1989. He has published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and other periodicals. Lavin is the co-author of “Export Now” (John Wiley & Sons, 2011). He is the editor of “Rising to the Challenge” (EDM, 2010), the official book of the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 Expo. Lavin currently serves on the board of directors of Globe Specialty Metals, Consistel, United Overseas Bank, and UTEX Industries. He also served as chairman of the steering committee of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo USA Pavilion.
Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Before joining AEI, she served for 10 years as a senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia on the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Pletka writes regularly on the Middle East and South Asia, US national security, terrorism, and weapons proliferation for a range of American newspapers and magazines. Her writings and interviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS News, Los Angeles Times, and POLITICO, among others. She has testified before Congress on the Iranian threat and other terrorist activities in the Middle East. Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011). Her most recent study, “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” was published in May 2012. She is currently working on a follow-up report on US–Iranian competitive strategies in the Middle East, to be published in the summer of 2013.
Phillip Swagel is a professor of international economics at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a visiting scholar at AEI. He was previously assistant secretary for economic policy at the US Department of the Treasury from 2006 to 2009, where he was responsible for analysis on a wide range of economic issues, including policies relating to the financial crisis and the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He has also served as chief of staff and senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers and as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board and the International Monetary Fund. He has previously taught at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and Georgetown University. Swagel works on both domestic and international economic issues at AEI. His research topics include financial markets reform, international trade policy, and the role of China in the global economy. He is the co-author of “An Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century” (AEI Press, November 2012).