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Experts Gather At UC San Diego To Discuss How US Should Approach China

Photo by Andy Wong / Associated Press

A Chinese news magazine featuring a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in Beijing on Feb. 9, 2017.

Aired 2/13/17 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Task Force Presents Blueprint For Trump-China Relations

GUESTS:

Susan Shirk, chair, UC San Diego's 21st Century China Center

Winston Lord, former U.S. Ambassador to China

Transcript

A group of China experts will convene at UC San Diego Monday to discuss a report calling on President Donald Trump to reassess U.S. policy toward the People's Republic.

The report urges the new president to develop a policy that addresses concerns about China's recent actions without damaging potential cooperation in areas of mutual benefit.

The document — which was unveiled last week in Washington, D.C. — was put together by the Task Force on U.S.-China Policy, convened by the 21st Century China Center at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Asia Society Center for U.S.-China Relations.

Task force members include former government officials, scholars and think tank researchers, many of whom have served under both political parties and every U.S. president since the Nixon administration.

"We are at a critical moment for our two countries, a moment that calls for our government and the public to reassess and reexamine policy toward China," said Susan Shirk, a UC San Diego professor.

"We are confident our recommendations will support a stable relationship that is in American interests and help the U.S. maintain an active, positive presence in the Asia-Pacific," she said.

Shirk, former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord and Center on U.S.- China Relations Director Orville Schell are scheduled to present their findings at 4 p.m. at the UC San Diego Faculty Club. Shirk and Schell are co-chairs of the task force.

“We created the task force because many of us who have worked on U.S. policy towards China for many, many years felt that our approach wasn't working as well as it had. Especially before the global financial crisis in 2008, which was a kind of turning in point in which China became more assertive in Asia, especially over the maritime disputes," she said. "So we were searching for a better way and what we concluded was that we really have no choice but to try to maintain a solid, non-hostile U.S.-China relationship. First of all, we are working well on global issues, we shouldn't throw that away, things like climate change. But also, the risk of an actual military confrontation or a cold war between the U.S. and China would be very detrimental to U.S. interests. So, we are looking for ways to build on a foundation that we have built over decades.”

Their recommendations are to:

— work with China to halt North Korea's nuclear and missile program;

— reaffirm U.S. commitments to Asia;

— deploy effective tools to address the lack of reciprocity in U.S. trade and investment relations with China;

— intensify efforts to encourage a principled, rules-based approach to the management and settlement of Asia-Pacific maritime disputes;

— seek an easing of Chinese human rights and civil policies that harm U.S. organizations and undermine public support for better U.S.-China relations; and

— sustain and broaden U.S.-China collaboration on global climate change.

The task force contends that regional maritime disputes in Asia, trade and investment practices, human rights issues and cyber-espionage risk undermining the overall relationship between the two countries despite cooperative successes elsewhere.

Their report also cautions that unilaterally abandoning this country's longstanding One China policy would likely increase Taiwan's vulnerabilities, destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region and jeopardizing broad U.S. interests.

After defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in November's general election, Trump spoke by phone to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen, prompting an angry response from the mainland government in Beijing. However, Trump reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to One China in a recent telephone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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