China Leadership Summit unites Duke, UNC

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Students who attended the Duke UNC China Leadership Summit pose for a photo. Courtesy of Tucker Mills.

This weekend, rival schools and rival countries came together in Graham Memorial to collaborate for a better future.

Experts on relations between the United States and China led the China Leadership Summit, hosted jointly by UNC and Duke University. The two-day conference, held on both campuses, was the first of its kind in the area, said Jack Zhang, a Duke senior and one of the event organizers.

Visitors included Chinese officials from China’s Anhui province, professors from both schools and professionals from the Research Triangle Park.

“Increasingly, U.S.-China relations are a very important part of global affairs. Duke and UNC are both ideally situated because North Carolina is actually the second-highest destination for Chinese in the U.S.,” Zhang said.

Lectures focused on topics like economics and Chinese culture and included question-and-answer sessions.

UNC economics professor Ralph Byrns lectured on America’s falling hegemony and China’s ownership of about a trillion dollars of the United States’ debt.

“Our policies have sped the time when the U.S. power is going to decline,” Byrns said, adding that China, Japan and India are now in a position to rise in power.

“(As China becomes) increasingly reluctant to accept our bonds on international markets, they’re going to want to buy assets, and we’re running out of assets that they’re interested in,” he said.

“We’re spending resources and we’re giving other people claims to our assets.”

But Byrns was optimistic about China’s economic relationship with the U.S., saying that xenophobia is an enormous mistake and that the U.S. needs to continue free trade to remain competitive.

Duane Long, chairman of the N.C. China Center’s executive team, said the state’s relationship with China has grown, especially in the past six years, as the Chinese company Lenovo moved into the Triangle area.

“North Carolina is one of the top five places CIPA (China Investment Promotion Agency) is cooperating with to build the success model for the future,” he said.

In addition to Lenovo’s 2005 investment in the Research Triangle Park, Long cited the Charlotte-based Bank of America’s 2005 investment in China Construction Bank, which he said was the largest investment in China from a U.S. company at the time.

“North Carolina is better positioned than any state in the U.S. to take advantage of this opportunity,” Long said.

Allen Liu, a UNC junior economics major, said he enjoyed the range of backgrounds represented at the conference, which attracted Chinese delegates, professors and businessmen.

“A lot of things they talked about you don’t really get to hear in class,” he said.

Altogether, 50 students attended the summit— 25 from each school. Fifty applied for just the UNC spots, said McKay Roozen, a UNC junior and one of the organizers.

She said the idea for the event came from business students interested in Asia, but students with different academic backgrounds applied.

“We even got 10 applicants from the School of (Global) Public Health, as well as N.C. State,” she said.

Zhang said the summit’s executive council plans to make the event annual and expand it to N.C. State University and other schools in the future.

“We envision becoming the largest conference of its kind in the South,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of potential.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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