In July, 2008, the National Committee brought together 30 of the best minds on various aspects of China and several specialists in other areas for a synergistic, cross-cutting look at some of the major challenges facing China and the United States and what the best policies might be to enhance cooperation and ameliorate conflict over them. “China, the United States and the Emerging Global Agenda,” a two-day conference held at the Aspen Wye River Conference Centers in Queenstown, Maryland, took a hard-nosed look at the major dimensions of American relations with China over the next decade and focused on our long-term interests rather than the immediate problems that tend to dominate such discussions.

The conference centered around sessions on three major topics, each of which are of crucial importance to the two countries and to the overall relationship: economics and trade, security and politics, and climate change. The sessions began with comments from a panel consisting of a chair, the writer of a background paper (distributed to participants prior to the conference), and two discussants; however, the majority of time was spent in very lively discussion of the various issues. The informative background papers are available in PDF format on this page.

Some of the key themes that emerged from the discussions were:

  • The United States needs to invest in its own human capital and physical infrastructure to be confident vis-à-vis China and the rest of the world.
  • Washington and Beijing need to develop a stable strategic nuclear relationship in the context of military modernization.
  • Progress in cross-strait relations is a huge strategic opportunity but one subject to many potential difficulties, and the United States should thus actively support further improvements in cross-Strait relations.
  • Energy and environment issue—particularly global climate change—represent important opportunities for U.S.-China cooperation.
  • At the same time, the United States must continue to press China on the persistence of human rights problems, compliance issues, and other problematic “old” issues.