Carla Freeman, Director of the Foreign Policy Institute and Associate Director of SAIS China
David M. Lampton, Director of SAIS China and George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies

September 27, 2017

As China prepares to hold its 19th Party Congress, an event with momentous policy implications, SAIS China hosted a discussion by David Lampton to highlight trends in the US-China relationship. He spoke about the friction in the economic and military ties between the two nations prior to the Xi Jinping administration and the uncertainties and risks that have developed since the inauguration of US President Trump.

Lampton spoke about how the United States has in recent decades fostered the emergence of new power centers, including China. He stressed that the US must win cooperation rather than compel it and will increasingly have to negotiate with China. He argued that the US needs to get its domestic house in order to remain an effective competitor.

While China and the US strive for cooperation on North Korean denuclearization, frictions have accumulated as a result of the US doing business with Taiwan and the economic sanctions on specific Chinese trading and financial entities. He mentioned that the US administration has been all over the lot and has left stakeholders in the region confused on its China policy.

In concluding, Lampton noted the United States' relative economic strength has declined while China's has risen. He stated that the shortening economic leg of US power in Asia weakens its capacity to maintain a balance of influence. The US and China must manage these challenges and prioritize their objectives, Lampton said.

Following Lampton's remarks, SAIS China Associate Director Carla Freeman moderated questions from the audience which covered issues including the era of post-American leadership, increasingly stringent social and political controls employed by the Xi administration, and the government's campaign to fight corruption.