The 2024 CHINA Town Hall program took place on Tuesday, April 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET, with featured speaker Dr. Kurt Campbell, Deputy Secretary of State. Read a transcript of the event below.


Stephen Orlins: Good evening. I’m Steve Orlins, President of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, coming to you live from Washington, DC.  And I’m pleased to welcome audiences from over 70 venues throughout the United States, Canada, and China to our 18th annual CHINA Town Hall. Each year, we convene CHINA Town Hall because we believe in the importance of educating the public about all that is happening in the U.S.-China relationship. This past year, in fact, exactly 12 months, has been pivotal for bilateral ties, culminating in President Biden and President Xi meeting in San Francisco. Since then, we’ve seen progress on a number of issues, including bilateral communication, and fentanyl control. And just last week, we saw [Treasury] Secretary Yellen travel to Beijing to meet with senior Chinese leaders. Yet deep differences still divide our two countries. Can the countries capitalize on this cooperative period, or will we return to a period of tense ties?

We’re thrilled to have the Deputy Secretary of State, Dr. Kurt Campbell, with us here tonight to discuss the current state of U.S.-China relations and answer your questions. Prior to assuming his current position, Deputy Secretary Campbell served as deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the National Security Council. During his distinguished career, he’s also served in senior positions at the State Department, Defense Department, Treasury, and NSC. Full disclosure, he served as a director of the National Committee from 2013 to 2020. And also, full disclosure, I’m proud to call him a friend.

To participate in the conversation tonight on Twitter, use the #CTH2024. You can also scan the QR code on the bottom of your screen to take a poll and share your thoughts on U.S.-China relations.

We begin with a few of my own questions for Deputy Secretary Campbell. Kurt, welcome. It’s wonderful to have you here. I was just noting, this is your second appearance on China Town Hall, and it’s only our 18th time, but tell…

Deputy Secretary Campbell: Can I just say, please call me Kurt, if you would, Steve. Thank you.

Orlins: It’s tough to call you Deputy Secretary.

Campbell: It’s tough even for me, actually, so…

Orlins: Tell us where we are in U.S.-China relations, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going, and what happens, assuming President Biden is reelected.

Campbell: First of all, it’s an honor to be with you, Steve. I welcome everyone from many places around the United States who have an interest and are focused on where U.S.-China relations are going. And I welcome you all, and thanks for the opportunity.

I want to say a word just quickly about Steve. If we are able to manage our way through a very challenging time, I acknowledge that, and I live it, it will largely be due to key people who are passionate, and committed, and determined to find common ground. I know of no person who’s dedicated more of their life to finding that common ground than you, Steve. We have not always agreed, but the truth is, I’ve learned enormous amount from you, and I appreciate the opportunity, give and take.

So, I would say this: I think when President Biden came into power, there was a sense that China was testing us and was proceeding under the belief that the United States was in some sort of hurtling decline, and that they believed that they could press us in key ways, take advantage of certain opportunities and technology and security and the like. And I think what President Biden and his team has sought to do is put in place a consequential set of steps.

First, beginning with investment in the key areas of national strength, which increasingly, Steve, as you know, will be in technology– issues like semiconductors, AI, quantum computing, synthetic biology, robotics– and recognizing that this is the high ground for national power and strategic competition.

Secondly, working closely with allies and partners to build a consensus around maintaining the global operating system, which we believe has been so beneficial, particularly the Indo-Pacific. If you look at the last 60 or 70 years, I would argue that they’ve been the best with respect to lifting people out of poverty and huge amount of innovation. And I think the U.S. commitment to peace and stability has been a large part of that.

And then, I think building on those foundational pieces has been a substantial bilateral commitment to finding common ground, but also being clear-headed about engagement with China. And so, what we’ve seen is a series of engagements, probably the most effective, as you indicate, Steve, was in San Francisco, in which the two leaders underscored that yes, there are elements of competition in our relationship. We want to keep those elements healthy.

We want to keep that competition from veering into confrontation or conflict. We believe that the way to do that is to keep lines of communication open and the ability to be able to engage when there’s misunderstandings or potentials for accidents. But then at the same time, find those areas where it will be essential to maintain communication and working together. I note, Steve, that you were in Beijing just the last couple of weeks with a most distinguished delegation of business and financial leaders trying to figure out what’s going on in China right now and what is the nature of our economic relationship. But we underscore fundamentally the need to work on existential questions, like climate change. We think the people-to-people dimension, which has animated so much of our relationship and the hopes of people on both sides, seeking steps to increase trade, travel, those things are practical steps that we need to take.

But at the same time, I know this is a long answer, we are having to deal with challenging issues like China’s support for Russia in the Ukraine war. Obviously, we’re trying to manage carefully and engage on issues where we have differences of view. And I think ultimately, the visit of Secretary Yellen and the call between President Biden and President Xi that proceeded that, the upcoming visit of Secretary Blinken, these are all indications that both sides, I think for now, are determined to keep U.S.-China relations on a steady, stable path.

Orlins: Has the date been set for Secretary Blinken going?

Campbell: I think it probably has, but I don’t think I’m supposed to announce it. And I’m learning all these things now in this new role, but it will be coming up soon. And we think this will be a major visit. I think we want to display other elements of the relationship in terms of education, business, and we expect him to see the senior leaders as well.

Orlins: You mentioned my visit a couple of weeks ago, where we had the opportunity with some business leaders to meet with President Xi. One of the issues he raised, and one which I’ve actually raised, is the over-securitization of U.S.-China relations. We’ve seen cranes, chips, EVs, and batteries fall within a definition of national security. What’s going on there, and what should we do? He’s concerned that ultimately when you…and he implicitly recognized the Chinese do this too. So, can the two sides engage in a discussion of what is national security, get a definition?

Campbell: It’s going to be important to have those discussions, Steve. I would simply say that the larger context here is important. Last year was an absolute banner year in trade. There’s substantial investment flowing in both directions, lots of Chinese goods come to the United States, lots of opportunities. Yes, we do hear from Chinese interlocutors occasionally about, “Gee, you’re targeting our social media companies.” I would just simply say that our social media companies are not allowed to engage in China. So there is an unequal playing field to begin with. And so, I think what’s important on our part is to explain clearly what it means to have high walls or high fences and small yards to make sure that only the most careful things that require scrutiny are observed with respect to potential controls or areas that we would prevent certain kinds of engagement with China. And much of those efforts tend to be in technology areas, AI, chips, and the like.

I think ultimately, our focus in technology are on dual-use capabilities that potentially could have security uses that are antithetical to our interests. And I think we’ve been clear about that with our Chinese interlocutors. I will also say that, if you listen carefully, what Secretary Yellen indicated on her recent trip is that we’re also concerned by the potential of China seeking to use their overcapacity to flood American and other global markets. And she’s warned, I think appropriately, and she has worked assiduously to build stronger ties between the United States and China. But she’s warned her Economic, and Treasury, Ministry of Finance counterparts that if those steps are taken, we will not sit by idly. And what happened 10 years ago on steel with Chinese products, basically squashing American competition, we won’t, and cannot, sit by idly to let that happen.

And so, I do think we’ve sought to explain clearly what our issues are, and I also believe that those conversations are helpful, and they’re ongoing, Steve. So, this is not a dialogue of the death, it is not a situation in which we’re not interacting regularly; we are. And we are explaining clearly and unambiguously what our concerns are.

Orlins: Could we negotiate whitelists, things which are basically going to be telling businesses it’s okay, both in terms of goods and investment?

Campbell: I think we’ve sought in private conversations with businesses to basically give indicators where there are warning signals. And we’ve also indicated areas that we think are unexceptional, more generally. I think today, there’s much greater clarity in the business community about what’s acceptable and what is not. But I will also say, Steve, if I can, I think the limiting factor is not the U.S. government response. I think you were there with the business community. The truth is, there are some real challenges currently to operating in China. I know Chinese friends, interlocutors, are trying to deal with that, but they have a long way to go. The business environment is not nearly as welcoming as it was 15 or 20 years ago. And I think being honest with Chinese interlocutors about that is important. Oftentimes, we’ll listen to Chinese interlocutors and they’ll say, “Look, we’re opening up and we’re following reform.” But then if you really chase that down and ask for specifics, they’re not as forthcoming.

Orlins: We certainly raised those issues with President Xi, the concern about the Chinese economy, concern about the investment environment. And he responded that reform and opening has been the foundation for China’s success, and we’ll go in that direction, will continue to go in that direction. Of course, the business community says: well, the proof is going to be in the pudding. Exactly what you’re saying: we have to see how things are.

Campbell: On that, Steve, I will say this: I don’t envy the current generation of financial diplomats in China. The challenges are enormous. But they’re also following in the wake of literally the most effective global diplomats, financial engineers of modern times, Wang Qishan, Liu He. These people were incredibly effective at managing the opening to the West and trying to preserve certain advantages. I think some of the current team have a lot to prove, and I think there’s pressure on them to try to be able to take the necessary steps to deal with youth unemployment, property challenges, issues about domestic demand, global confidence generally among Chinese firms. These are all things that, frankly, are unrelated to the United States that China will have to deal with.

Orlins: We want to go to our first audience question, which is going to be from Isabel Machlab at Northwestern University’s Town Hall. Isabel, go ahead.

Isabel Machlab: Hi, I’m Isabel Machlab. I’m a junior from Iowa City, Iowa, and I’m studying international studies and political science. Thank you so much for having me. My question is: President Xi Jinping said to President Biden last week on their phone call that China is not trying to outcompete the United States. Do you believe this to be true? How would you describe the current U.S.-China relationship?

Orlins: Before you answer that question. Thank you. It’s a great question. We’re trying something new this year, which is we’re polling our audience on what they think China is in one word, and we have competitor, partner, frenemy or enemy. And obviously, competitor looks like it’s 57%; frenemy, 30%; enemy, only 6%; and partner is 7%. Obviously, this is a very unscientific sample.

Campbell: But it’s a sophisticated sample, and I appreciate the question very much. Thank you for that.

My sense is that China is a serious country. I think they seek advantage where they can find it. And yes, I think they’re fierce, intense competitors, as is the United States. I think competition is what has driven the United States forward, it is what animates China’s purpose, both domestically and the global stage. And so, I don’t think we should in any way discourage fierce competition. I think the key is to make sure that that competition is fair, that it is transparent, and that it doesn’t veer into conflict or instability. And I think that’s our goal as we go forward. But I do believe that China’s competing to win, without question.

Orlins: Let’s go to our next question, to Tulane University Town Hall. Gabriela.

Gabriela Preziosi: Hello, Deputy Secretary Campbell. My name’s Gabriela Preziosi, and I go to Tulane University. Thank you so much for having me. My question is: given the complexities of the United States-China relationship, what are the key areas you believe the United States can and should seek engagement with China? And how would you prioritize these areas?

Orlins: It’s a coincidence, we also polled the audience on this. So, let’s see what the results of that were. In other words, where are the areas that the audience thought we could cooperate?

People to people looks like it’s 34%; international conflict resolution, which I take it refers to the Mid East and Ukraine, 22%; technology, 19%; climate, 28%; illicit drugs, three percent; and trade and investment, 27%. But where do you think we could cooperate?

Campbell: This is a great list. I just want to commend you on this format, Steve. It’s wonderful to link all these people together, and it’s great to see students so engaged. And I commend you on the important role of thinking about the world and asking these hard questions. These are all critical issues.

At my core, I believe that the essential fundamental responsibility of the United States and China is to take climate seriously as an existential issue. I really commend the work, the passionate work that Secretary Kerry, as our climate envoy, undertook, really without any pause and with tremendous intensity over the course of the last three years. But I will also say, I think the United States has been ambitious in a number of areas. We’re going to need to see more from China.

And I think, given their slowdown, that some of their more ambitious climate goals have fallen by the wayside. I think we’re at a situation now where China’s emissions are over 50 percent of global emissions and rising. They’ve made a big deal about not financing coal plants externally, but have continued them domestically. These are areas that we’ve got to be clear about. And I think we tend to just be grateful when Chinese interlocutors come to various international climate fora, but we need to see more progress there. I think the United States has taken very challenging steps. Our issues are going to be follow-through more than anything else. For China, it is to make the kind of commitments and follow-through on them domestically more than anything else. I think people-to-people issues are important, educational opportunities. I do think there are areas where the United States and China can work together.

When I was assistant secretary here in the past, we worked quietly on issues that were challenging on the Korean Peninsula with North Korea. We also worked, Steve, on Burma. I think there are areas where our interests overlap, and we can perhaps not necessarily cooperate, but align and make sure that we are in close consultation and communication. Ultimately, what we have to be about is building habits of cooperation. And in truth, despite the remarkable engagement between our two sides, the sense of entanglement economically and commercially, we have not built the habits of necessary cooperation that will be essential if the U.S.-China relationship is to flourish into the future.

Orlins: How destructive is China’s relationship with Russia in terms of building these habits of cooperation? As you know, I watch the Chinese news every morning. And this morning I awakened to Xi Jinping sitting at the head of the table, with Lavrov sitting on his left, then Wang Yi sitting on his right, at a rectangular table. It was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and China. But it’s pretty destructive.

Campbell: Yeah. I will tell you: Steve has helped me and tutored me and lectured me. The one area that we disagreed at the outset that I’m gonna say on air that I think I was right about was the relationship between China and Russia, which I think…

Orlins: I didn’t disagree with you on…

Campbell: Well, you did a little…

Orlins: I tell you what the other position is.

Campbell: We fought about it. But let me tell you what I think what we’re facing, friends. We often hear from Chinese interlocutors, like, “This is a red line. This is a core interest.” And we have to trespass very carefully on areas that are so important to their sense of national identity and purpose.

For the United States, the awakening globally, our most important mission historically has been the maintenance of peace and stability in Europe. And I will say, and Steve knows this, we warned our Chinese interlocutors in advance of the invasion. I’m not sure they completely believed us or thought that maybe it would be a smaller thing, not an all-out move and push. I think the Chinese leadership were surprised at the enormity of the initial actions and then were alarmed by Putin being on the defensive almost immediately.

From that stage early in the conflict, I think Chinese interlocutors have made a decision to provide the necessary wherewithal in terms of machine tools, joint-use capabilities, a whole variety of capacity to basically allow Russia to retool. I think, initially, that was a defensive endeavor. They did not want to see regime change, they didn’t want to see Putin fall. Let’s remember that the relationship that Xi has invested the most with globally is not a Western leader, but President Putin. They’ve met dozens of times, up to 50 times, hundreds of hours. They’ve endeavored to build a partnership that’s largely based on aggrievement with the West and the United States. But we’re in a different situation now. So, Russia is almost completely retooled, and they now pose a significant threat going forward to Ukraine, but to the surrounding region.

And Steve, the point that we’re trying to make to Chinese interlocutors is that this is our strategic interest. This is the most central issue. And China is involving themselves in a way that they think that we don’t completely understand. We do know, understand what’s going on. This is a substantial effort. We’re making clear to European partners the risks of this. And we have told China directly, “If this continues, it will have an impact on the U.S.-China relationship.” We will not sit by and say everything is fine, for instance, if Russia’s offenses continue and they gain territory in Ukraine, that will alter the balance of power in Europe in ways that are frankly unacceptable from our perspective. And we will see this not as just a Russian unique set of activities, but a conjoined set of activities backed by China, but also North Korea. This is antithetical to our interests, and we’ve been clear and transparent with them about this.

Orlins: It was so interesting, in the meeting with President Xi, he was talking about economic resilience of China. So, he is sending a message, “We are resilient. We’re going to make our 5.2 percent. It’s the new model. We could do 10, but that would be qualitatively not good growth.” Then he said something, he said, “We’re resilient. Look at our history.” Then he said, “In 1956, the Soviet Union withdrew its machinery from the Northeastern China.” And I kind of went, “Wow. He knows this history.”

Campbell: Two years later, they detonated a nuclear weapon and…

Orlins: China did, but China showed its… but that he used that as an example, was quite interesting.

Campbell: Well, Steve, I’m not sure you remember this, but we were talking after the Bali Summit, and I mentioned to you that President Xi used that very same historical experience. And I think occasionally what he will say to Western interlocutors is that, “No matter what you do, you try to withhold capabilities, we’re going to persevere and we’ll overcome obstacles.” I don’t think that relates directly with Ukraine. I would simply say that I do not believe what China is doing here is in the interests of Europe, the United States. But I will also say, I don’t believe that China fundamentally wants to see, at this juncture, the borders of Europe fundamentally rewritten through conflict. I don’t think that is in their strategic interests.

Orlins: On something we disagreed about slightly, but then we came to agreement, which is official contact between U.S. government officials and Chinese government officials. How is it today and how is your relationship in terms of communications with your counterpart?

Campbell: At the time, one of the things that Steve would ask me about, he said, “Look, you know, you’ve got to meet more, you’ve got to engage more with the Chinese Ambassador.” I will tell you now, it can be told, I was meeting with him regularly. It was really other meetings. He really wanted higher level engagement. This is our former Ambassador Qin Gang. And Steve was very good at trying to build those bridges. I think Steve was the first to note that at that time, Qin Gang’s potential trajectory would’ve made him one of the most powerful officials in the conduct of Chinese foreign ministry, basically of the last 30 or 40 years. He had that potential. And now, we still don’t really know exactly what happened. This is a topic that you cannot discuss with Chinese interlocutors. If you brought his name up, there would be an immediate silence and there would be no discussion of him. But the truth is that Steve’s encouragement to me and others, we engaged with him intensively… was very helpful in terms of passing messages at points of tension in cross Strait relations.

We are actively engaged with all our counterparts. I’ve had a recent call with the executive vice minister. We see the Ambassador regularly. I think we are now back to a situation in which the lines of communication are almost fully open. What we’re still seeking, Steve, is more engagement on the military and operational side, and I think the Chinese system is ready to take those steps and we’re ready to meet them halfway in keeping those lines of communications open

Orlins: Where it’s in the afternoon, let’s go to the University of Hawaii to Brent White to ask his question.

Dr. Brent White: Hi, good afternoon. I’m Brent White, chief global officer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Our question is: is there any possibility that the level three travel advisory to China will be lifted or reduced in the near future? It serves as a disincentive to resuming student and scholarly exchanges, which both the United States and China have expressed a desire to increase.

Campbell: Look, thank you, Brett, for the question, and welcome and aloha to all our friends out in Hawaii. I had a great, good opportunity. I was on the board of the East-West Center, and I had a chance to work with your institution extensively. Thank you for the work that you are doing. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I would just simply say that this is certainly an issue under active consideration. And I accept your premise that these travel advisories have served as an inhibition to rebuilding the kinds of people-to-people and other academic exchanges that we’ve seen in the past. So, I would just simply say: under active consideration.

Orlins: A follow-up question actually from Pin Ni from Wanxiang America and Denis Simon from ICAS, both ask: President Xi, at the dinner you were at, talked about 50,000 American students over the next five years going to China. What’s your view of that initiative, and is there a U.S. strategy? I mean, I assume we think this is good to have Americans study in China, speak Chinese, and understand their culture better, and come back and work in the State Department is a good thing.

Campbell: Steve, I would simply say, my first really active engagement with you was part of an initiative that I did in the previous Obama administration called 100,000 Strong, in which I tried to take active steps, actually worked to build a foundation that would actively promote American students studying in China. And we reached that goal of 100,000 over a couple of years, and we were proud of that. Now, a host of things have taken place, COVID, other challenges and restrictions, some on our side, some on the Chinese side. I do not believe the environment is as hospitable for educational exchange as it was in the past, and I think both sides are going to need to take steps. It’s not just the United States.

But we’re in a situation now today where the number of Chinese students is on the upswing, from China to the United States, and the number of American students studying in China has plummeted absolutely. And that’s plummeted for a variety of reasons, and it’s not only that Americans are looking at other places and some choosing to stay home, but I think they do have some concerns about studying in China currently, and there are concerns about academic freedom and the like. Nevertheless, some degree of academic exchange is very much in our interests, and I support that, and I support steps to increase those opportunities in exchanges as we go forward.

Orlins: Yes, I think it’s really important. I know the Department has an initiative to get more Chinese speakers in the lower levels…. Is it succeeding?

Campbell: I think the truth is, Steve, we’re trying to build capacity across the Department in capacities associated with the Indo-Pacific. At the core of that is an understanding in language, history, and culture of China. And I think we’re coming along, but Steve, these are not initiatives that can bear full fruit overnight. It takes a long time. Capacity building is one of the hardest things in the U.S. government. And so, ask me in a few years.

Orlins: I can ask you something today though, and I’m always amazed, it’s like fake news. If you live in China, can you get a security clearance to join the Department of State?

Campbell: If you’ve lived in China?

Orlins: Yes.

Campbell: A large number of the people that I work with have lived in China and have spent time in China.

Orlins: The answer is yes, of course.

Campbell: Yes, of course.

Orlins: People tell me, “No, you can’t.” I go, “That’s not true.”

Campbell: Every single person, Steve, that you talk to in the White House, and the State Department has lived in China, not just as diplomats, but as students, or traveling around. So, no, that is not the case.

Orlins: What are our allies saying about our China policy? Are you getting support, dissent?

Campbell: I think we’re in a better place now than we were a few months ago. I think there were… Look, Asia’s complicated. They have a little bit of the Goldilocks, you know, they don’t like it when it’s too hot, but they don’t like it when U.S.-China are building what they view as a G2 over their heads. They want prudent, careful diplomacy. They want their interests preserved and their circumstances not dealt with above their heads. I think it would be fair to say that we are in close consultations with allies and partners about our relationship with China. I think more than anything else, Steve, they appreciate, we’re talking to them more about U.S.-China relations.

I think in the past sometimes we did not share as much. We are much more open about what our goals are, what our objectives are. I still think there are some countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, that worry that in a competitive world, they feel like they have to make choices and that they’re somehow betwixt and between, and they don’t seek that. They like the attention and the ability to leverage resources, but they don’t want to be a pawn in a larger global competition. And we hear some of that more generally. I think there is general satisfaction about the state of U.S.-China relations. I will say two different things, though. They are worried about the economic trajectory in China. They are not as optimistic about your growth numbers as…

Orlins: That’s not my growth numbers, it’s Chinese growth number.

Campbell: And they worry about the United States as well. And so, it’s not just that they worry about the state of the relationship, but they worry about the domestic trajectory of both of our countries.

Orlins: You’ve spent a lot of time with the Japanese Prime Minister this week who’s now in DC. Is Japan, pretty much on the same page as we are?

Campbell: I think that’s the case, yes. In fact, we’ve talked to our Chinese interlocutors about this relationship. China, I think has complex views as you know, Steve, of Japan, but the U.S.-Japan relationship is our most important foundational relationship in Asia. It has grown in importance. It’s no longer regional, it’s global. They’re with us in Ukraine, in Haiti, supporting us in Gaza, in the Pacific. I think Prime Minister Kishida is a rare leader. We’ve been able to really take the U.S.-Japan relationship to the next level, and it will be on full display over the course of this week. And we will also have a trilateral meeting later in this week between the United States, Japan, and the Philippines for the first time. And President Marcos will join us.

Orlins: Let’s go to a question from University of California San Diego. Gary Zu.

Gary Zu: Hi everyone. I’m Gary Zu, a PhD candidate in political science at UC San Diego. It is great honor to ask Deputy Secretary Kurt Campbell, who is also a distinguished alumni of UCSD, a question. So, my question is, how do you evaluate the possibility of a military conflict between the Mainland China and Taiwan over the next decade? And given your evaluation, what do you think the United States will play a role in the future gives? Thank you.

Campbell: Thank you very much for the question. First of all, I want to acknowledge how important the question is, but I do want to just say a word or two. I am not a particularly distinguished graduate of UC San Diego, although I’m very fond of my time there. I do want to say that the premier meeting and conference every year that is held to basically explore with the best experts in the world where China is going, where the U.S.-China relationship is going, is hosted by UCSD. I think I saw Lei and other friends at UCSD in the audience there, and I want to say hello to them. And we look forward to that meeting in August in La Jolla following on the meeting that was held this winter here in Washington DC in which National Security Advisor Sullivan gave a key speech about the current trajectory in U.S.-China relations.

But what I was going to say is my first introduction to China was a class taught by Susan Shirk. I was a young student. She chastised me. I came to a class all wet. I had literally gotten off my surfboard. I brought it into class, and my wetsuit was dripping wet. And she said, “You know, you’ve gotta get yourself in order. You can’t be so disrespectful and you can’t track sand and water into my classroom.” I think from that point on, I became a little bit more serious of a student. And so, grateful to call her a lifelong colleague and friend.

The most important thing that we can do is carefully to signal responsibly our determination to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. And that involves a variety of things: communications, deployments, clear messaging. I would simply note, one of the most important elements of the U.S. strategy in the recent period, in the past, it was often only the United States speaking alone about the absolute need to preserve peace and stability, to sustain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, a status quo that we think has served the interests of the peoples on both sides of the strait.

Increasingly, larger numbers of international actors have spoken out as well about their desire to maintain peace and stability, to make sure lines of communication are open, and to build a degree of trust and confidence. We do see actions on the part of the PRC that are concerning, increasing military activities, deployments that concern us. But at the same time, we persevere in our determination to underscore our critical role as a key guarantor as outlined in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act of that maintenance of peace and stability, which we think has been a tremendous achievement that has propelled the region to greater heights.

When we talk about the advances in technology, what TSMC has done is remarkable. We’re grateful for the partnership that we have, an official partnership with Taiwan on so many different things. Ultimately, it is our professed goal to do what’s necessary to preserve that peace and stability that has been so critical to the progress we’ve seen to date.

Orlins: Let’s talk a bit about kind of the ancillary effects, tremendous effect actually of our China policy, especially I would say the last administration. We’ve seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. So, our next question goes to the New England Chinese American Alliance Town Hall, joining us from Newton City Hall in Massachusetts. Hua Wang, over to you.

Dr. Hua Wang: Hello. Good evening. This is Hua Wang, co-chair of New England Chinese American Alliance. Thank you for inviting us to participate in this important conversation. As a community organization, we’re concerned about the increasing suspicion of the loyalty and integrity of Chinese Americans, such as the China Initiative. Such suspicions not only hurt the racial minority– we all know about the Japanese-American internment– but also tear apart the fabric of American society, such as during the McCarthy era. So, how to protect the equal rights of the Chinese-Americans and avoid stereotyping Chinese culture and people while managing the complex U.S.-China relations? Thank you.

Campbell: I appreciate the question, and I believe that this is a very serious matter. I will simply say that President Biden has spoken out on this, he has rejected this kind of stereotyping. He has condemned the attacks on Asian Americans that affect not just Chinese Americans but across a broad range of groups here in the United States. He’s condemned that publicly, repeatedly, and in the company of prominent Asian Americans. He’s appointed for the first time a wonderful person in his administration, in the White House, Erika Moritsugu who represents Asian and Island communities in all things in the White House. She has been tireless in her commitment to ensuring that we are taking every possible step to prevent this kind of blacklisting and, you know, questions about the patriotism of honorable Americans.

And so, I think those are critical efforts underway, and we have to be able to distinguish between perhaps steps or activities, third column things that China has done in the United States, and also the activities, you know, of Americans. And I just think this is a hard issue. Over time we are, I think, handling this issue with greater care and understanding than perhaps it was done four or five years ago.

Orlins: We’re seeing a large influx of Chinese migrants coming to the United States, leaving China, going sometimes through the Middle East, coming to Mexico and entering it.

Campbell: Steve, it has not gotten enough attention, but it is a remarkable thing. The number of Chinese economic migrants that have come to the United States over the course of the last several months number in the tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. It is a remarkable thing. I would just underscore that many of the people that are coming up the corridor in Latin America are absolutely impoverished with very little to call their own. Many of the Chinese migrants that are coming have had to spend an enormous amount of money to get the airline tickets, to get down, to join these groups that come up to the United States.

So, it is a remarkable thing that we’re seeing, and it is a subject of some conversation. I think it’s fair to say that the Chinese government is aware of it, probably a little concerned by it, but I don’t think they’ve taken steps at this juncture to curtail it either.

Orlins: These migrants seem to blend into the Chinese community in the United States, rather than being, you know, taken care of by municipal or state governments. Is my impression correct?

Campbell: Steve, I think that’s anecdotal, but I think generally the case, yes. But the truth is, the numbers that we’re seeing are large and frankly of gathering concern.

Orlins: This has been just a tour de force. This is a remarkable…

Campbell: No, it is my pleasure, Steve. You’re the host here. It’s been my honor and my pleasure. I hope to do this again. Can I just say to the people that have listened, I appreciate what you’re doing, I appreciate your interest. And Steve, we don’t always agree, but you are my friend, and I appreciate the passion that you bring to this endeavor, this complex endeavor of charting a course.

Orlins: I value our friendship, and I think you’re really one of America’s great public servants. It’s really remarkable. But let me just use 30 seconds to thank our speakers and partners across the United States and China for hosting this event. Thanks to the Starr Foundation for its continued generosity in funding CHINA Town Hall. And finally, thank you to the National Committee staff for their hard work in coordinating this nationwide, I should say, this worldwide event. Thank you all.

Campbell: I also thank my team here at the State Department. We are in the State Department today. They’ve labored to put this together. I’m very grateful to our technical teams and all the people that have made this possible. Steve, thank you to you and your team. Be well, everyone.

Orlins: Kurt, thank you.