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CALL FOR PAPERS: How to Sustain a Peaceful & Constructive US-China Relationship

How to Sustain a Peaceful & Constructive US-China Relationship

CALL FOR PAPERS From Young American Scholars

The Fifth Young Scholars Forum on US-China Relations

Organized by The Carter Center, Peking University, the Global Times &

China Public Diplomacy Association

April 24-26, 2020

Beijing, China

In 2020, the Fifth Young Scholars Forum on US-China Relations will take place on April 24-26 in Beijing. The organizers invite young American scholars under the age of 45 to present multidisciplinary findings on various aspects of the most critical bilateral relationship in the world and their recommendations on how to make this relationship peaceful and constructive.

There has been deterioration of U.S.-China relations between the years when President Obama was about to leave the White House and when Xi Jinping just assumed the leadership position in China. But no one has expected the bilateral relationship to have such a nose-dive since Donald J. Trump became the president. At the current time, not only the trade war is still raging almost two years after Washington and Beijing have entered negotiation between the U.S. and China has for the first time become entirely possible. The stability and constructiveness of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China have been anchors for peace and prosperity for the Asia-Pacific region in the past 40 years. With the possible collapse of this relationship, the long-lasting engine for global growth and development is now threatened.

What has gone wrong with this relationship? What are the factors that have caused this sharp decline in mutual strategic trust? Are the differences in ideology and political system the ultimate culprit of the relational deterioration? With the relationship as we have known in the past 40 years evaporating in front of eyes on daily basis, what will be the new framework to manage this huge business of growing the global economy, slowing down climate change and preventing conflict between the two nations?

We invite US doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows, assistant and associate professors, think tank analysts, researchers and young professionals outside of academia under the age of 45 to send in proposals that can contribute to answering these questions. Schwartzman Scholars from the U.S. are also eligible to present their papers.

Proposals in English (no more than 300 words) with concise biographical information must be submitted by e-mail to uscnpm2019@gmail.com or zhongmeiluntan@gmail.com before February  15, 2020. Selection of participants to the forum will be announced on March 1, 2020.

The deadline for finalists to submit papers is April 10, 2020.

The conference organizers will cover the international airfare (economy class) and local expenses for all the paper presenting scholars from the U.S..


In September 2014, the first Forum for Young Chinese and American Scholars, which was jointly organized by The Carter Center and the Global Times, convened successfully at the Xi’an Jiaotong University.  President Jimmy Carter attended the Forum and provided opening remarks. More than 20 young scholars from both countries presented their research on the theme “How to Build Future U.S.-China Relations in the Context of Turbulent International Relations”. Senior American and Chinese scholars, including Professor David Shambaugh, General Qiao Liang, commented on the presentations and offered suggestions for revision of the papers.

The second forum took place at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia in October 2015. Scholars from both countries shared their research on the topic “How Will the Future International Order Be Shaped by Past and Current U.S.-China interactions?”  Participating senior scholars also held a lively dialogue with Professor Lyle Goldstein, author of Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry.

In September 2016, Nanjing University hosted the third forum. Scholars from both countries presented their findings on the topic of “The Impact of US-China Educational Exchanges on U.S.-China Relations”. Professors Yan Xuetong, David Arase and Shen Dingli as well as veteran US-China education exchange leader and author Terry Lautz attended the forum.

In January 2018, the fourth forum was held at The Carter Center and Emory University in Atlanta. This forum focused on the role of nationalism, national identify and media in US-China relations. Professors Zhu Feng, John Garver, Wei Zongyou as well as opinion leaders Hu Xijin, Robert Daly, David Firestein and Ding Gang participated in the forum as keynote speakers and discussants.

The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates on China: Policy Profiles

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

No one thought Donald Trump could win the Presidency in 2016. One of Trump’s favorite talking points during the race was that if elected, he would give China hell through imposing hefty tariffs on Chinese imports. He won the election and kept his campaign promise. The subsequent trade conflict has brought the US-China relationship to its lowest point since January 1, 1979, when Washington and Beijing normalized their bilateral relationship.

The 2020 presidential race is already under way. Like the 2016 race for the Republican Party nomination, the Democratic Party primary has a plethora of candidates. At this point, it is unclear who will emerge as the Party’s candidate. There are many issues that will define the race and decide who will be the final candidate. These issues include healthcare, immigration, gun control, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the American relationship with China.

The candidates agree on several points regarding the US relationship with China. For example, they all agree that President Trump has mishandled the trade dispute, that the US needs to pressure China more on human rights, and that President Trump has not used the power of the US’ alliances to exert unified pressure on China. Despite their agreement on these issues, each candidate would approach China differently if elected.

To provide our readers with a full understanding of the Democratic candidates’ proposed China policies, USCNPM.org is compiling a profile for each major candidate. We will follow these standards when working on the profile:

First, we will not produce profiles for each of the more than 20 candidates. At this point, we will only profile the proposed China policies of the 10 candidates who spoke at the third debate. If other candidates break out, we will profile their policies accordingly.

Second, we will source information for each candidate from their responses during the Democratic debates, from the policy proposals available on each candidate’s website, and from media coverage of each candidate’s comments on China.

Third, as the race evolves later this year and next year, we will update each candidate’s profile until a final candidate is chosen.

Fourth, once a candidate is nominated, we will try to identify members of the nominee’s Asia team.

Click the links below to read each candidate’s China policy profile:

Vice President Joe Biden: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-vice-president-joe-biden/

Senator Elizabeth Warren: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-senator-elizabeth-warren/

Senator Bernie Sanders: https://uscnpm.org/2019/10/23/bernie-sanders/

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-mayor-pete-buttigieg/

Senator Kamala Harris: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-senator-kamala-harris/ Senator Harris dropped out of the race on 12/03/19

Representative Beto O’Rourke: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-representative-beto-orourke/

Andrew Yang: https://www.uscnpm.org/policy-profiles-andrew-yang/

Senator Cory Booker: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-cory-booker/

Senator Amy Klobuchar: https://www.uscnpm.org/china-policy-profiles-senator-amy-klobuchar/

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro:  https://uscnpm.org/2019/10/23/china-policy-profiles-housing-and-urban-development-secretary-julian-castro/

Each policy profile has been researched and written by the interns of The Carter Center’s China Program. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of The Carter Center.

Current State and Future of China Relations and Role of Younger Generation

By: Ezra F. Vogel, Harvard University, June 28, 2020

In 1879, a woman made history by traveling around the world faster than anyone ever before, in 72 days. Since then continuing l development in technology of transportation and communication is bringing people of the world closer together. Now we have no choice but to find ways to work with each other. As you are embarking on your careers, the key problems the world confronts, — pandemics, global warming, orderly international trade, the control of weapons of mass destruction –require close cooperation between the people and governments around the world, especially between the two most powerful nations, China and the United States.

          As you know, during the last several years instead of the United States and China making progress in working together, we have grown more contentious, making it more difficult to cooperate for our common good. A key challenge for your generation is how to manage our rivalry, to find ways for American and Chinese people and our governments to work together.

Our Rivalry 

          As the two countries compete for economic and political dominance, mutual antagonism has grown. As you know, throughout history an existing dominant power and a rising power often end up fighting because unplanned incidents set off conflicts. Military technology continues to advance, and a conflict could be more devastating than any war in history, leaving no winner, only losers.

          The rivalry between China and the United States is now spreading to almost every field. Our governments and companies contend for economic supremacy. Our nations compete for political influence and for hearts and minds around the world. Militaries compete in advanced weaponry that might allow them to prevail in a military conflict.

          The rivalries arouse deep passion in both countries. Americans, accustomed to dominating the world for three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, become upset at Chinese assertiveness. Chinese, pained by the memory of dominating foreigners for over a century of humiliation, are determined to stop yielding to foreigners. We need to find ways to manage the rivalry constructively.

The danger of attacking foreigners to promote domestic unity

          The speed of changes around the world disrupts lives everywhere, making it difficult for national leaders to maintain wholehearted public support. Maintaining unity is hard even for small countries like Canada, Spain, and Iraq. Large countries face even more difficulties. The Soviet Union collapsed. Leaders of the United States and China seeking widespread public support often find it useful to criticize foreign powers that challenge them.

          American difficulties in maintaining unity. In the 1950s when I was embarking on my career, America was relatively united. We had not been badly damaged by war and our economy was by far the largest in the world. Our industrial base had no rival and other countries wanted our products. We had full employment and national confidence. Democrat and Republican leaders cooperated for our national good. We were prepared to be generous in supporting international organizations and helping other countries so they would not feel the need to go to war.

          Our technology continued to advance and we began to produce more farm and factory products with fewer people. In 1946 we had 6 million farm families and by 2000 there were scarcely 2 million, producing more agricultural products. As industrialized nations recovered from the war and as other nations learned to industrialize, workers abroad were prepared to work for salaries lower than American workers. With technology advances and reduced transport costs, goods produced abroad could be sold in the United States at low prices, benefitting our consumers. By 2010 there were only 13 million jobs in manufacturing, a loss of 7 million jobs since 1980. As a result of loss of agricultural and manufacturing jobs which supplied relatively stable employment, the communities around those factories and farms also lost income.

          America has made considerable progress since my youth, –in education, science, and technology but we have not handled well the transition away from the relatively stable large-scale industrial and agricultural employment base that helped support the surrounding communities. America has developed a sizeable service sector, but incomes are too unequal. Some businesses and business leaders have grown very rich but pay workers very little. Our nation has spent too much for the military and military activities abroad and not enough on modernizing our infrastructure and providing universal medical care.

          America lacks a national educational system to provide a quality education with a standard common perspective for the entire population. In my youth, America had several national TV stations. Cities had a very small number of newspapers which provided common sources of information to broad groups of people. With the growth of the internet, people who have similar views can now rely information from sources that agree with their point of view. We don’t get the same information and differences in peoples’ perspectives have hardened..

          In World War II many blacks fought in our military along with whites, and after World War II, finally we began slowly to provide programs to reduce discrimination against blacks. Women also gradually found more opportunities in the work place. Poor white males who had fewer opportunities in factories and farms than in previous decades and who saw some black children get scholarships to universities where they could not afford to send their children are upset at the elite who support a system where they lack good wages and dignity.

          Americans, especially those who face frustrations in their own society, are ready to respond positively to political leaders who blame China especially when they learn about things Chinese are doing that seem unfair and threatening: when they hear the Chinese government has created difficulties for American businesses in China while helping Chinese businesses, when the Chinese government punishes people who speak out publicly without trials, when Chinese companies acquire inside information from American companies or use electronic ways of gathering personal information about Chinese studying in the United States, when they hear that Chinese who built up small islands in the South China Sea and said they had no military purposes in mind later erect military facilities.

Chinese Difficulties in Maintaining Unity. China confronts a huge problem in trying to unite 1.4 million people, the world’s largest population. Its diverse population includes several ethnic groups and some who have not yet shared the nation’s prosperity. Chinese people are fully aware of how China suffered in the 19th and 20th centuries because it could not unite. Many believe that national unity, achieved only after 1949, is sufficiently important that they are willing to accept constraints when speaking publicly.

In late industrializing countries, economies grow rapidly when they are building their basic industrial structure, modern roads, railway, subways and steel plants. But now that the basic infrastructure construction is largely in place, Chinese people cannot expect their lives to improve as rapidly as before.

After China began opening markets in the 1980s, some local governments and some private entrepreneurs began to accumulate their own wealth. When China had a socialist economy, it was easier for Beijing’s Communist Party and central government to maintain political control. But with the growth of local and private wealth it is more difficult to maintain control. What local leaders and business people see as opportunities to pursue independent initiatives, Beijing sometimes see as corruption and dangerous localism.

Beijing leaders facing these massive problems have chosen to exert tighter control over information and tighter surveillance over its population, aided by new technology, than do Western democracies.

Beginning in the 1990s movies of World War II showing horrors committed by Japanese soldiers in World War II helped strengthen Chinese patriotism. Tensions with Japan peaked in 2008 to 2112 when the size of the Chinese economy was passing that of Japan’s. Now that the size of China’s economy is poised to overtake that of the U.S. economy, some Chinese leaders gain political support by attacking America for its unfair attacks on China. Nations need patriots ready to defend their country but we also need people who help their own country solve problems to achieve unity without attacking outsiders.

The Challenges for the Young People Embarking on their Careers

          You young people embarking on your careers must of course acquire skills to help you earn a living. In a world continuing to change rapidly, you cannot expect that the skills you learn as a young adult will prepare you for work decades later as the economy and technology change. After you learn skills, you must remain ready to adapt.

          To manage the rivalry between China and the United States, we need people in both countries who acquire empathy for the people in the other country and seek to work with them. I have enjoyed good friendships with many Chinese and enjoy working with them. Chinese who study in the United States and Americans who study in China and make friends across national lines can be an enormous asset for helping our two countries work together. Some super-patriots from the other country may attack us and some in our own country may accuse us of being unpatriotic. I believe we are practicing a higher patriotism, a recognition that each of our countries needs good relations with the other country. It may not be easy for you to maintain such ties in the decades ahead but I hope you will find a way. Our two countries and the rest of the world need you.

Animal Farm: Scapegoating in the 2020 US Presidential Elections

President Trump has shifted his campaign strategy in light of heavy, bipartisan criticism of his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than make the election a referendum on his administration, he has decided to pin the blame for the crisis on China. 

It’s a political strategy contingent on an angry electorate starved for revenge yet lacking  answers from their national government. Unable to defend their record on policy, it seems, the White House has begun to attack their opponent for defending who they believe bares most of the responsibility for the spread of COVID-19. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, according to an April 9 ad from the Trump campaign, “stands up for China” while President Xi “cripples America.” Pro-Trump super PACs have propagated misinformation about the origins of the virus, suggesting without evidence that Chinese officials created it in a laboratory, and have flooded twitter with posts tagged #BeijingBiden. The aforementioned attack ad concludes by arguing, contrary to what Biden has said in the past, that it is not “in [The United States’]  interest that China continue to prosper” but rather “Just Biden’s interest.”

It is not uncommon for Donald Trump to scapegoat others as responsible for complicated problems. Indeed, political scientists Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart in their book Cultural Backlash note the startlingly authoritarian ring to the outsider-hostile rhetoric which has characterized his political brand for five years. Deflecting criticism of his administration and assigning blame to China is no different. There is perhaps no greater evidence of Trump’s ill-will than the previously-mentioned ad itself, which “includes an image of Gary Locke, a former governor of Washington state” and falsely implies that Locke “is a Chinese official” because he is Asian American.

Biden responded to these accusations not by taking the moral high ground, which he has suggested is a hallmark of his presidential bid. Instead, he has tried to out-hawk Trump on China, responding with an attack ad charging the president with being too soft on them. The ad opens by suggesting that the attacks against him are merely efforts by the Trump administration to “hide the truth,” that the White House has “rolled over for the Chinese.” The ad slams Trump for praising the Chinese response to COVID-19 and questions why he “didn’t hold China accountable.”

It is tempting to conclude that the Biden campaign simply wanted to address the claims thrown at them by the White House. But the attack ad, equipped with the standard dramatic music and deep-voiced narrator, unambiguously conveys the message that China is responsible for spreading the coronavirus and Trump has not punished them sufficiently for their doing so. 

Clearly, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump think that they can leverage Americans’ fear of the coronavirus for personal, political gain. But in so doing they have engaged in a reckless politics that prioritizes their short-term benefit over the long-term effects of successfully combating the pandemic. 

For one, neither candidate benefits from blaming China once the election is over. President Trump is still grappling with the trade war he initiated years ago, having only made moderate progress in reaching a new agreement. China has previously retaliated for Trump’s accusatory rhetoric and could react in a similar way should he continue. 

It is clear, from Trump’s May 29 press conference in the Rose Garden, that he has every intent on doing so. Doubling-down on his blame-shifting talking points, the president lectured the Chinese government for their coronavirus response, saying that “The death and destruction” they produced is “incalculable.” He then announced that the White House would terminate Hong Kong’s diplomatic privileges and sanction various government officials both there and in the mainland.  

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow swore in an interview that the phase-one deal “is continuing,” but he also echoed the White House’s talking points, undermining his diplomatic credibility: “We have other issues with China, and of course the origin of the virus…” he said. 

Should President Trump secure another four years in office, he will have done so in part by pinning the blame for the coronavirus entirely on China. Surely smearing a country, assigning them sole responsibility for a worldwide crisis, and punishing them for unfounded conspiracies would strain relations between the two.

Meanwhile, if Biden manages to beat the incumbent, he will have to navigate the already-frail US-China relations in a (hopefully) post-coronavirus world. Adding to that burden a pile of inflammatory rhetoric will surely hinder his ability to maintain a constructive, mutually-beneficial relationship. 

There are more serious downsides to engaging in this type of discourse, though. To blame China for the spread of COVID-19 is to commit an egregious offense not just against reason, since there are no empirical grounds on which one can justify pointing fingers at a singular party, but also against a number of innocents who will lose their lives if not for swift, coordinated action in the face of the pandemic. Because secondly, scapegoating China more immediately jeopardizes bilateral cooperation in combating the coronavirus. 

Earlier this year, when the spread of the coronavirus was not yet a global phenomenon, Chinese hospital workers begged for additional supplies as they attempted to contain the virus amidst severe shortages. Chinese communities in the US “had sprung into action” in response, “organizing donations of masks and protective gear” to help relieve the overworked frontliners. Several months later, as the incidence of the disease worsened in the United States, those same communities worked to facilitate the transfer of supplies from China.

The impact of these small communities on the provision of necessary medical supplies, while likely small, is substantial. But what they can accomplish pales in comparison to the potential when two or more governments work together.

Case in point: Chinese charities have given at least 100,000 masks, 50,000 test kits, and five respirators to the government of Mexico. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrad described the relationship between the two countries as “commendable,” noting that the Chinese “have shared with us all their information, their findings.” Only a few days later, a shipment of medical supplies from the Chinese government arrived in Budapest. Hungarian Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade thanked the Chinese and added, according to reports, that “true friends stand by each other in hard times.”

Some have speculated that the motivation behind such charity is ultimately selfish – that the Chinese merely want to preserve their image on the world stage, which has undoubtedly taken a hit since January. Nevertheless, the Chinese government has shown incredible generosity in helping other countries overcome potentially deadly shortages of medical supplies. And while the United States has been a beneficiary of such support, their reluctance to support the Chinese Communist Party, unwarranted skepticism of the supplies’ quality, and exasperation over red tape has created tension between the two countries. 

It could very well be that China will ignore these rebukes and continue to assist in the US’ recovery efforts. But with both major presidential candidates routinely scapegoating the Chinese as responsible for the pandemic and an increasingly hostile White House, Biden and Trump, through their harmful rhetoric, risk alienating those willing to assist them. Such unnecessary recalcitrance is alarming, especially as the death toll in the US surpasses 100,000. 

This is not to say that US officials have no basis on which to criticize China. Indeed, there is irrefutable evidence that the Chinese government downplayed the severity of the crisis early on and suppressed those trying to get out the truth. But the United States is guilty of precisely these same sins, as we know from both their own officials’ statements (Kudlow made the absurd claim in February that the virus was “contained”) and a whistleblower complaint from Rick Bright, who was allegedly dismissed for trying to warn President Trump about how serious the disease would be.

All of this to say that nobody ought to be pointing fingers, at least not presently. The crisis rages and a second wave looms. There is still much to be done in terms of slowing its spread and treating the ill. The curve, as it were, has not quite been flattened.

US officials who blame China solely for the spread are engaging in exactly the type of short-term oriented politics that is unwelcome during a pandemic. Sure, Biden and Trump may benefit politically from doing so, but they risk China’s support, supplies, and cooperation in the long run. 

And as John Maynard Keynes warned about the consequences of governments’ failure to intervene quickly in times of crisis, “In the long run we are all dead.”

Conference Transcripts of Opening Speakers

On May 14, The Carter Center of the United States, the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, and the South African Institute of International Affairs jointly organized a virtual workshop: “Preventing a Covid-19 crisis in Africa—How can African Countries and International Partners Coordinate their Pandemic Response?” Below are transcripts from the three opening speakers, Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, Dr. Peng Yuan, and Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, and closing remarks by Ambassador Zhong Jianhua.

Dr. Yuan Peng, President, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)

Hello, first of all, thank you to the South African Institute of International Affairs and the Carter Center for co-organizing this meeting with our organization. CICIR and the two institutions have a long-standing friendly and cooperative relationship. I had planned to visit Africa for the first time this year, but because of the epidemic, it was not possible. I was very keen to complete my trip to Africa as soon as possible and talk to South African think-tanks. Carter Center founder President Jimmy Carter is a witness to the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States and has been working to move forward China-U.S. relations during and after assuming the presidency of the United States. The Carter Center has long focused on the issue of China-U.S. non-trilateral cooperation and has held many relevant discussions with the organization. I remember the conversation at The Carter Center and the photo with Mr. Carter, which is a wonderful memory.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has suddenly affected all aspects, affecting not only people’s lives, but also international politics and global economy. At the beginning of the outbreak, we considered this an opportunity for China and the United States to cooperate in the fight against the epidemic and repair bilateral relations damaged by the trade war. Unfortunately, the outbreak has had more negative effects on China-U.S. relations. Some U.S. politicians and the media have used the outbreak to “demonize” China.  The Institute recently held a video conference with several U.S. think tanks, and everyone agreed that the outbreak should be used to promote rather than undermine bilateral relations. The new coronavirus outbreak is an “invisible enemy” and we should not be entangled in “who should be responsible” but should cooperate immediately to solve the problem. It is not too late for us to start this discussion on trilateral cooperation today.

Now, we should put vaccine research and development first, put people’s lives, health and safety first, rather than “election” and political interests first, and now should be “vaccine first”. We should first ease tensions between China and the United States, such as joint vaccine development, which is the most pressing need of all parties around the world. Secondly, we should work together to help other countries fight the epidemic, especially African countries with poor health and epidemic prevention capacity. We have successful experience in this area, such as the U.S.-China partnership in the non-joint fight against Ebola. The new corona outbreak is a new test of China-U.S. relations and a new opportunity for cooperation. We should put aside some of the dissonance in bilateral relations and seriously consider anti-epidemic cooperation. China and Africa maintain close traditional friendly relations, the United States also wants to improve relations with Africa, China-U.S. cooperation in Africa should not be a zero-sum game, we can achieve win-win cooperation in Africa. Here, once again, I would like to thank The Carter Center and the South African Institute of International Affairs and other colleagues for co-organizing this discussion. It is hoped that after this meeting we can form the relevant research results and promote the formation of a cooperative atmosphere. I wish the meeting a success!

Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, CEO, The Carter Center

Thank you for joining this urgent and timely workshop. President and Mrs. Carter asked me to convey their best regards to everyone joining us from three continents at this difficult time.

The ongoing COVID-10 pandemic threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems and continues to disrupt the global economy. Such a transnational threat requires a concerted effort by the international community to work together in assisting communities affected by the disease, as well as to contain its spread, and ultimately to prevent its reoccurrence as well as those of other pandemics.

China has achieved much in its COVID response, and the U.S. is still in the middle of its own containment efforts. Yet as the pandemic continues to spread to regions around the world, healthcare systems across the African continent may face a particularly daunting challenge. Although there are always complexities and unknowns in making projections, the WHO warned that 190,000 people across the continent could perish from COVID-19, while the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) projected anywhere from 300,000 to three million deaths. Given the gravity of this challenge, all of us should engage in the spirit of constructive feedback, proactive cooperation, and innovative and bold problem-solving.

Since 2016, The Carter Center has organized a series of meetings like this one in the U.S., Togo, China, Djibouti, South Africa and Ethiopia. Our last trilateral cooperation workshop in Addis Ababa, in May 2019, focused on exploring cooperation in public health development and capacity building. Two of the issues discussed at that workshop offer particularly valuable lessons. The first involved an analysis of lessons which can be learned from the U.S. and China’s cooperation in containing the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Given the COVID threat, one question is if it possible for such cooperation to once again take place, and if so, how best can such cooperation be achieved?

The second issue involves the Africa CDC. Following the successful international efforts to contain the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, African leaders realized it was important to maintain the momentum and prepare for the next epidemic. In response, the U.S and China signed a historic MOU offering support for establishing the Africa CDC. We look forward to learning about how such cooperation helps tackle the COVID crisis.

The Carter Center urges more engagement between all parties in order to boost information sharing and coordination—so that best practices can be shared, resources can be maximized, existing programs can be optimized, and innovative solutions can be developed.

Some of the panelists today have already come up with innovative approaches, through either current or proposed projects, which many of you have already had an opportunity to review. We look forward to learning more about these projects later this morning, and strongly urge all participants and observers present for this engagement to find ways for collaboration and partnership-building after the workshop, which will be capable of maximizing the impact of these projects. We further encourage that any consensus on policy prescriptions developed through today’s discussions be taken to government agencies and policymakers in China, the U.S. and African nations.

I want to thank our two partners, CICIR (China Institute of Contemporary International Relations) and SAIIA (South Africa Institute of International Affairs), for making this virtual workshop possible. I look forward to the discussions in this workshop, and especially the postworkshop collaborations that may follow. We will produce a post-workshop briefing of projects and recommendations, and will share it with stakeholders interested in forging closer cooperation among African nations, the U.S. and China in this historic fight against Covid-19.

In his March 25 op-ed in the Financial Times, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia notes, “Momentary victory by a rich country in controlling the virus at a national level, coupled with travel bans and border closures, may give a semblance of accomplishment. But we all know this is a stopgap. Only global victory can bring this pandemic to an end.” This workshop is a preliminary attempt to address Prime Minister Abiy’s call for action, and to join the growing efforts in laying the groundwork for a global victory over the pandemic.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive, South Africa Institute of International Affairs

On this pandemic we are as strong as our weakest link. If there is one thing the crisis has highlighted it is that we need more not less cooperation and coordination. After al this pandemic (or war as some have described it) is one which all of humanity is fighting, on the same side.

But this is more than just a health crisis. It has affected governance, finance, development and social issues. And thrown into stark relief the shortcomings of different countries and regions in these areas.

We all recognize that we are living in unprecedented times, made more so by the difficult global political polarization. Some see the world in zero-sum terms. While that is not wise for any country, it is even less so for African states with limited resources and weak public health infrastructure. African states have recognised this, which is why their approach since the outbreak has been one based on cooperation and coordination.

Already African institutions and countries have taken significant early steps to coordinate the pandemic both inside the continent and outside.

They have also been able to learn from the various pandemics they have to deal with in the past, such as Ebola in west Africa and the DRC, but also HIV/Aids in South Africa. The instruments they have had to put in place to deal with those are also useful in countering tis pandemic.

Nevertheless, cooperation with international partners is crucial. Even though the relationship between the US and China has been difficult in recent times, we must explore, based on the cooperation of the pas between these two countries on public health issues in Africa, whether there is space for Africans to engage both partners in mutual cooperation on areas where there is need and where trilateral cooperation can reap benefits.

In discussing this however it is also important to raise two issues that need to be factored in and considered. The first is the issue of race and the second the issue of debt.

  1. The diplomatic fallout between China and several African countries (notably Nigeria) about the treatment of African migrants in Guangzhou. China has tried to frame the evictions and other kinds of discrimination as overzealous attempts by local authorities to contain a fresh outbreak of COVID-19, while African civil society has framed it as racism. Some in the US have weaponised this incident in the wider US-China diplomatic tensions. From the African side the issue of racism does raise its head from time to time and will need to addressed.
  2. Debt relief is the other, where there is potential for cooperation. African leaders are currently trying to negotiate a freeze in debt repayments to redirect those funds into public health efforts. The IMF and the World Bank have expressed support for this measure, but China (as many African countries’ largest bilateral lender) has yet to commit, although it has so far not dismissed the possibility. Such rescheduling should not be only until the end of the year but should probably be extended to the end of 2021. There is also the situation of private lenders who hold much African debt, and while negotiations are underway with them, it is inherently a more complicated process than with multilateral or bilateral lenders. Trump administration officials have in the past dismissed the idea of bailing out countries in debt distress, if those debts are to China. Bringing them both to the table to facilitate a blanket debt repayment pause, as well as making sure that African countries do not also face credit downgrades or barriers to future credit lines are key areas for cooperation. Such cooperation will be material, but sadly may be unlikely in the current milieu.

Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, Former PRC Special Representative of African Affairs

Summarizing China’s experience and lessons from the fight against the epidemic, the most important are:

The first is to believe in science. There is always a view that politics is more important than science. We did this in the first half [of the pandemic], and as a result we paid a price.

The second is to respect the experts. In this fight against the epidemic, experts are not only respected, but also worshipped. Zhong Nanshan, Zhang Wenhong and others are well-known, and no matter what they say, social media immediately spread their guidance.

The third is to rely on the masses. It is impossible to close a city with a population of more than 11 million without public cooperation.

The fourth is efficient execution. In the early days of the epidemic, the bureaucracy in Wuhan was everywhere. When the elderly patients were taken to hospital, they were not given proper care. After the media’s exposure, the district party secretary had to issue a public apology.

It is recommended to focus on two key elements of the fight against the epidemic in African countries: the failure of the health-care system, and the failure of social order.

As my favorite CBS anchor, Dan Rather, says: No matter who you are, or where you are, remember that you are a human being.

Only Global Victory Can Bring This Pandemic to an End ——“Preventing a Covid-19 crisis in Africa” virtual workshop was held by U.S.-China-Africa cooperation.

(click here to view the agenda of the workshop)

On May 14, The Carter Center of the United States, the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, and the South African Institute of International Affairs jointly organized a virtual workshop: “Preventing a Covid-19 crisis in Africa—How can African Countries and International Partners Coordinate their Pandemic Response?” Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, President of the Carter Center, Dr. Peng Yuan, President of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, and Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs, addressed on the workshop. The Carter Center invited 28 experts and scholars and more than 100 observers from the United States, China, and Africa to participate in the workshop.

Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters, CEO, The Carter Center, USA

At the beginning of the meeting, Ambassador Peters, on behalf of President and Mrs. Carter, conveyed her best regards to all the scholars, experts, and representatives of NGOs. She reflected on successful cooperation between the U.S and China on fighting against the Ebola virus in Africa, and urged more engagement between the two countries in order to boost coordination— so that information can be shared, resources can be maximized, existing programs can be optimized, and innovative solutions can be developed. Dr. Peng Yuan reviewed the cooperation between the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations and The Carter Center, noting the current friction facing China-U.S. relations and potential cooperation between China and the U.S. in fighting against Covid-19. Elizabeth Sidiropoulos noted that preventing a Covid-19 crisis in Africa would be a benefit for the African continent and the world. Meanwhile, she also called on China and the United States to cooperate in providing assistance to Africa.

Yuan Peng, President of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations

Next, U.S., China, and Africa trilateral experts presented four topics at the workshop, including “Emerging issues and needs on the African continent,” “Current assistance by international partner governments, international bodies, NGOs, and businesses,”  “Possible Mechanisms for International Cooperation,” and projects sponsored by The Carter Center.  The experts come from the African CDC, Wake Forest University, Emory Global Health Center, The Hunger Project, Project Hope, RAND Corporation, Made in Africa Initiative, Brown University, Institute for Global Dialogue, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, Development Reimagined, and Wuhan University School of Health Sciences. Finally, Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, former Ambassador of the Chinese Government to South Africa and Special Representative for African Affairs, made suggestions on China-U.S. cooperation in Africa and the global fight against the epidemic.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive, South African Institute of International Affairs

According to Dr. Yawei Liu, director of The Carter Center’s China program, from 2015 to 2019 The Carter Center has held eight policy dialogues involving government officials, scholars, and representatives of NGOs to promote U.S.-China-Africa trilateral cooperation. The theme of the trilateral cooperation seminar held in Ethiopia May 2019 was how China and the United States should strengthen cooperation in public health. At the seminar, the experts put forward proposals for strengthening cooperation and shared the experiences of the U.S., China, and African Union working together to combat Ebola in 2014 and establishing the African CDC. Since March 2020, The Carter Center has been soliciting proposals for trilateral cooperation projects to promote peace and development in Africa, which have received positive responses and support from the three parties. This virtual workshop was the first step in a series of seminars and workshops on trilateral cooperation. It will be followed by further in-depth research on cooperation proposals and continuously promoting China-U.S. cooperation in Africa.

Photo from an online meeting of Chinese experts and the African CDC organized by the Ma Yun Foundation

At today’s workshop, representatives from the African CDC highly praised the selfless assistance provided by the Ma Yun Foundation, a Chinese civil society organization, to the fight against the epidemic in Africa. When the U.S. and Chinese governments were unable to repeat the feat of jointly fighting Ebola in West Africa in 2014 because of disputes in bilateral relations, civil society organizations in the U.S. and China led the way in providing a direction for effective cooperation between the two states and Africa in combating the disease.

Ambassador Peters, CEO of the Carter Center, quoted a March 25th op-ed in the Financial Times by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: “Momentary victory by a rich country in controlling the virus at a national level, coupled with travel bans and border closures, may give a semblance of accomplishment. But we all know this is a stopgap. Only global victory can bring this pandemic to an end.” This workshop is a preliminary attempt to address Prime Minister Abiy’s call for action, and to join the growing efforts in laying the groundwork for a global victory over the pandemic.

China’s Assistance to Africa’s Fight Against Epidemics

Commuters stand in a line to curb the COVID-19 coronavirus from spreading as they proceed to a ferry in front of a police officer wearing a mask at the Likoni ferry terminal, in Mombasa on March 27, 2020. - The Kenyan government put measures at the terminal in place, where thousands of people cross daily, including mandatory use of masks, deployment of armed police officers and reducing number of people boarding a ferry. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

I   Overview of the outbreak in Africa

  • As of April 16, 2020, there have been more than 17,000 confirmed cases and more than 9,000 deaths across the continent.  
  • The outbreak of Covid-19 has spread to 54 African countries, leaving only two countries—Comoros and Lesotho—with no confirmed cases yet reported.  
  • The most severe reported outbreaks have been in South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Cameroon and Tunisia, each with more than 500 confirmed cases.
  • Some experts say that the actual number of infections in Africa is greatly underestimated due to testing capabilities and other reasons.  On April 16, 2020, WHO officials said models suggested that the number of confirmed cases in Africa could reach 10 million within three to six months.  
  • At the time of the outbreak, only two African countries—South Africa and Senegal—had virus detection capabilities. As of April 15, the WHO reported that 44 African countries can test for COVID-19. On average, there are only two doctors per 10,000 people, and less than one hospital bed per 1,000 people.
  • As of April 5, 43 of the AU’s 55 member states had completely sealed borders and seven had stopped international navigation.

II  Overview of China’s assistance to Africa’s fight against the epidemic

  • China has nearly one thousand medical workers who have been working in Africa since 1963, when China sent its first medical teams to Algeria.
  • The National Health and Family Planning Commission has guided medical teams to support the presence of the epidemic prevention and control in African countries. Thus far, they have carried out more than 250 various types of training and health education activities, training more than 10,000 people, and issued more than 800 multilingual announcements and prevention and control guidelines, covering much of the continent.
  • China has set up a team of remote experts to conduct technical exchanges with 54 countries in Africa through remote video conferencing.
  • On March 18, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Health and Family Planning Commission held a video conference with officials and health experts from 24 African countries as well as the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention to share information and experience on the fight against the epidemic.
  • On March 22, The Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation donated significant quantities of medical supplies, bringing 5.4 million masks, 1.08 million kits, 40,000 protective clothing and 60,000 protective masks to Africa to support 54 African countries in the fight against the epidemic.
  • On March 24, Liu Yuxi, head of the Chinese mission to the African Union, and Amira, a member of the African Union’s Social Affairs Committee, signed a certificate for the handover of the second batch of testing reagents.
  • On April 6, a shipment of Chinese medical aid arrived in Ghana. In addition to Ghana, the supplies will be transferred here to 17 other countries to help fight the Covid-19 outbreak. The supplies include ventilators, N95 masks, protective clothing, gloves and other medical equipment and protective equipment.
  • Chinese medical aid to South Africa arrived at South Africa’s Johannesburg International Airport.
  • On April 16, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated “China will help the poorest countries to focus their efforts on fighting the epidemic and supporting economic and social development, in accordance with the G20 consensus on the debt issue, and will continue to actively participate in the international community’s anti-epidemic cooperation through other bilateral channels.”
  • On 16 April, in accordance with the deployment of the inter-ministerial coordination mechanism for foreign assistance, the Civil Aviation Authority coordinated air transportation arrangements for two charter flights to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia for the transport of medical experts and anti-epidemic aid.

III  African countries express their gratitude for China’s assistance

  • On March 26, materials donated by Chinese companies arrived in Madagascar. Madagascar’s president personally received the supplies at the airport, and thanked China’s for providing help in their hour of need. These materials will greatly improve the existing detection efficiency in Madagascar.
  • On March 26, Ugandan President Museveni posted a message on social media thanking China for establishing a remote exchange system. This system not only allows Ugandan health care workers to learn in a timely manner about the experience of Chinese experts in how to fight the outbreak, but also provides a system of rapid connectivity of the Ministry of Health in Uganda to local hospitals.
  • On April 4th, South Africa’s ruling ANC issued a statement welcoming and sincerely thanking the Chinese government and people for their assistance in the fight against the epidemic, which will help South Africa respond more forcefully to Covid-19 and save lives.
  • Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa stated “Thanks to China for its all-round support to Zimbabwe’s response to the outbreak, this is a truly friendly gesture.”
  • Kenya’s Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said supplies from China would not only improve Kenya’s new coronavirus detection capabilities, but would also greatly enhance the safety of health workers by serving as “a vivid demonstration of the friendly feelings of Chinese people towards the African people.”

Chinese Mistreatment of African Nationals Over Covid-19

Multiple news sources are reporting the mistreatment of African nationals in China. These mistreatments include multiple forced coronavirus testing without receiving results, evictions, and arbitrary 14-day quarantines. Many African ambassadors are calling on China to address these issues while China maintains it is simply enforcing “anti-virus  measures on anyone that enters” from across “national border, regardless of nationality, race, or gender.”

Not all African countries are joining in this complaint, with Zimbabwe dismissing the “accusation that Africans were being deliberately targeted.”

Full articles can be found at:

Beijing faces a diplomatic crisis after reports of mistreatment of Africans in China causes outrage

African nationals ‘mistreated, evicted’ in China over coronavirus

African ambassadors complain to China over ‘discrimination’ in Guangzhou

Covid’s Potential Impact in Africa

With Wuhan, China slowly beginning to return to normalcy following several months of strict lockdown to prevent the spread of covid-19, speculation now turns to other areas of the world and how the virus might take hold in those places. The Atlantic published an article that goes into some of the potential scenarios that might play out across the African continent. With lacking health care systems and some of the poorest people in the world, how will covid’s spread impact these countries? Some African countries’ lack of transportation hubs or limited travel available can be viewed as positives in containing the spread, while other factors point to the limited number of ICU beds and ventilators as areas of concern.

Read the full article at Think 168,000 Ventilators Is Too Few? Try Three.

Where will China and the US be after Covid-19

As the world undergoes drastic changes as result of covid-19, many experts are giving their predictions as to state of the world order following the conclusion of the pandemic. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger offers his take on how the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order. In another article, twelve global thinkers give their predictions in the article World Order After the Coronavirus.

But what about US-China relations? Will tensions be better or worse after covid-19 ends? The South China Morning Post published an article about how Chinese Fake News Machine is Rewriting History. Other analysis by the East Asia Forum gives insight into how Covid-19 is Heightening US-China Tensions.

Unlocking the Vast Potential of People-to-People Diplomacy in the Global Coronavirus Combat

The Shanghai Institutes for International Studies have published a report on the potential of people-to-people diplomacy as a result of the Coronavirus Crisis. Read it below or at http://www.siis.org.cn/Content/Info/4UA9LS9STN2O