Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Town hall hopes to build trust and understanding between U.S., China

China is rapidly developing into a major world power, and the country is drawing global attention for the speed, as well as the implications, of its growth. The scale of change in China also impacts the United States.

These impacts were the focus of the third annual “China Town Hall:  Local Connections, National Reflections” held on Dec. 8 in 38 U.S. cities, including Denver, and in several cities in China. For the third year in a row, DU’s Center for U.S.-China Cooperation sponsored the town hall.

Sam Zhao, a professor in DU’s Korbel School of International Studies and executive director of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation, said it is important Americans understand the role that everyone plays in U.S.-China relations.

“The rapid development of China has an impact on everyone in the United States,” Zhao said. “This town hall [was] an opportunity to have a two-way conversation about the importance of working together and to foster bilateral learning.”

The program featured Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, who discussed the latest aspects of U.S.-China relations via live webcast from Washington, D.C.

Douglas Spelman, deputy director of the Kissinger Institute on China & the United States at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, also made live remarks during the town hall. Zhao moderated Spelman’s part of the discussion.

Spelman told a crowd of about 50 at DU that trust is the most difficult issue in the relationship between U.S. and China.

“Mistrust of each other is a barrier for cooperation,” Spelman said. “We need a positive attitude so we can move forward in addressing our joint issues.”

He said the U.S. and China, as well as other major world powers, need to cooperate on issues such as the environment, including global climate change; energy security; counterterrorism; and how countries deal with nontraditional security threats such as piracy, counterfeiting, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.

“To understand China is to understand its people, culture, history and perceptions, as well as its hopes and fears.  This town hall has brought us closer to understanding,” Zhao said.

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