“Blessings come alone; troubles come in pairs.”
The Chinese are famous for their use of ancient proverbs to convey modern sentiments, and we believe that this one is especially pertinent to U.S.-China relations today.
Indeed, recent troubles between the two powers lend credence to the notion of “one step forward, two steps back.”
Quarrels over a pegged currency, an Internet search giant and chicken feet came together to overshadow President Barack Obama’s historic first visit to China last November.
Of course, the most recent clash over Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama adds even more fuel to the diplomatic fire.
Some issues of great sensitivity, such as human rights and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, are long-standing and intractable. Others, such as China’s growing role as a world polluter, are nascent and evolving.
In either case, these altercations lead some scholars to warn that for the United States, China’s rise inevitably means more conflict than cooperation in the decade ahead.
Yet how valid is this pessimism?
What are the prospects for mutual understanding in light of these irreconcilable disagreements?
The future of U.S.-China relations is anyone’s best guess.
By studying the history of interplay between China and the United States, however, we hope to develop a better framework to resolve tomorrow’s uncertainties.
To that end, on Tuesday evening, Great Decisions will host a lecture on U.S.-China relations by Michael Hunt.
A recently retired professor of history at UNC and the longtime China specialist on campus, Hunt brings a wealth of expertise to our weekly lectures on foreign policy.
Over his four decades of professional work on Asia and contemporary world history, Hunt has authored seven books and dozens of commentary pieces for national publications.
His most recent book describes how the United States “gained and wielded global dominance” and was the recipient of the 2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title award.
As if his accomplishments do not speak for themselves, Hunt is also a scholar of classical Chinese orthography.
He is more familiar with formative Chinese texts than are most native speakers of the language.
And all of this is not even to mention the witty candor we have come to appreciate of Hunt in any conversation — intellectual or otherwise.
Hunt’s lecture promises to shed light on the current state of U.S.-China affairs from both the cultural and historical lenses.
Yet as the Chinese like to say: “A single night of wintry temperature cannot create three feet of ice.”
The inference, of course, is that one should not expect a single lecture to elucidate fully the complexities of U.S.-China relations.
In that light, we hope that Hunt will inspire among the audience further interest in and inquiry into this topic of profound global consequence.
James Ding is a sophomore political science and international studies major from New York. Andrea Hubert is a sophomore business major from Washington, D.C. Contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org and Andrea at email@example.com.
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