Trade, War, and China in the 21st Century

Beyond TPP – Does America Need a New Global Strategy?

The Challenge: Two decades ago, the United States and its allies reshaped the international economic systems put into place after the Second World War to make room for India, Brazil, China, and other countries. Today it is increasingly clear that this rules-based system is being challenged, most dramatically by China’s sophisticated use of state enterprises to manipulate trade and investment flows and China’s military expansion in the South China Sea.

The Obama Administration has responded to China’s challenge through military means, such as freedom of navigation operations, and by proposing a new trade agreement to shift commerce away from China. But there are two problems with this strategy. First, there is increasing nationalism in the U.S. and Europe and a fast-growing rebellion against “free trade,” as exemplified by Donald Trump and Brexit. Second, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be sufficient to counter China’s power. 

Our Question: Considering how trade structures affect national security, has the time come for the United States to reexamine our national trade strategy? To that end, this event will center around discussions of three new realities: 1) the growing fragility of international industrial systems after two decades of integration, 2) the swelling influence of the Chinese state in the U.S., and 3) the growing awareness of the flaws in the regulatory systems established in the 1990s. The day will end with a discussion of what questions Americans should be asking and what principles Americans should use in shaping any next generation trade strategy.

Click here for an agenda and bios for the day, and click here for a selection of readings discussing the issues at hand.

9:30 to 945: Introduction 

Anne-Marie Slaughter
President and CEO of New America

9:45 to 10:45: Panel I - The World in Pieces: Challenges to the International Order. 

For 75 years, the world has moved slowly but steadily to greater industrial and financial integration, and in some regions to greater political integration. Most citizens of the U.S. came to assume that further integration was inevitable – and beneficial. But today this is suddenly no longer such a clear-cut case. On the contrary, there is a fast growing public sense of disintegration and incipient conflict.

Question: What are the biggest political threats to the postwar system?

Randall Schriver,
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, State for East Asian Affairs 
Clyde Prestowitz,
Author, Japan Restored 
Orville Schell
Asia Society, Director, Center on U.S. China Relations 
Jennifer Harris
Author, War by Other Means 
Bay Fang
Managing Director, East Asia for Radio Free Asia
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State 

10:45 to 11:00: Break/Coffee

11:00 to 12:15: Panel II – Industrial Interdependence and War. 

Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat famously wrote: “No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain… will ever fight a war against each other.” But China’s increasingly provocative behavior in the East and South China Seas increasingly challenges that conventional belief.

Question: In the event of conflict in the South China Sea, what happens to the U.S. economy and U.S. supply chains? 

Christopher Gopal
Former senior operations executive at several leading global companies
Author, Supercharging Supply Chains 
Shane Harris
Author, @War
Correspondent, The Daily Beast 
Barry Lynn
Author, End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation 
Sharon Burke
Senior Advisor to the International Security Program and Resource Security Program at New America
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy

12:15 to 12:30: Lunch

12:30 to 1:30: Panel III - Hollywood and Beijing. 

In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton, in his major strategic statement on U.S.-China relations, famously said that the Internet and Hollywood would liberalize China, by bringing American values and American culture to Chinese citizens. But two decades later, it’s clear that’s a two-way street. 

Question: As Silicon Valley and Hollywood come to depend more on Chinese profits, who’s really the boss?

Ying Zhu
Professor of Media Culture, City University of New York
Author, Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television
Author, Film as Soft Power and Hard Currency: The Sino-Hollywood Courtship (forthcoming)
Aynne Kokas
Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia 
Author, Hollywood Made in China (forthcoming 2017) 
Patric M. Verrone
Former President, Writers Guild of America West
Robert Cain
President, Pacific Bridge Pictures
Consultant on China and film production to major media firms
James Kirchick
Foreign policy correspondent, The Daily Beast
Fellow, The Foreign Policy Initiative

1:30 to 2:30: Panel IV – Systems and Power: Who Really Rules? 

Since WWII the U.S. has been the main regulator of the world monetary and energy systems. The U.S. for many years was also the main regulator of industrial and scientific activity and of trade in food, metals, and other commodities. But today it is increasingly China that wields these powers.

Question: Were there basic intellectual and political flaws in the regulatory systems established in the 1990s that are responsible for the rapid shift of power to China?

Ralph Gomory
Former Senior VP Science and Technology, IBM; 
Former Executive Director, the Sloan Foundation 
Haley Sweetland Edwards
Correspondent, Time Magazine
Author, Shadow Courts
Alan Riley
Professor, City Law School of City, University of London
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
Senior Associate Fellow, Institute for Statecraft
Elana Broitman
Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, Defense Department, DoD Representative to Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States 
Former Senior Adviser to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand


Matthew Stoller
Budget Analyst on the Senate Budget Committee
Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders