On December 14, 2016, the Committee of 100 (C100) and the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) co-hosted a series of important conversations in New York to discuss “U.S.-China Relations in the Trump-Xi Era”. The sold-out event featured an impressive line-up of speakers, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, C100 member and Director of the Brookings Institute John L. Thornton China Center Dr. Cheng Li; former U.S. Trade Representative and Chairman and CEO, Hills & Company Ambassador Carla A. Hills; Founding Dean, CKGSB Dr. Bing Xiang; and C100 Chairman Frank H. Wu. Occurring at a time of uncertainty in the U.S.-China relationship, this timely event drew on the speakers’ unique and expert views, with Dr. Kissinger lending invaluable insight as the only person since the 2016 U.S. elections to have met with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and President-Elect Donald Trump.
C100 Chairman Frank H. Wu delivered opening remarks, underscoring the importance of bridge-building to deepen mutual understanding between the U.S. and China in light of recent events. Wu moderated the first panel on China’s economic development with CKGSB Dean Bing Xiang, who discussed the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for China and the U.S. in an age of post-neoliberalism.
In the second panel, the Honorable Henry A. Kissinger and C100 member Dr. Cheng Li later held a dynamic discussion on “The Role and Impact of Leadership in U.S.-China Relations”. Their conversation was moderated by Ambassador Carla A. Hills, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current Chair of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.
When asked to comment on Trump’s recent “One China” remarks, Kissinger said, “I was a participant in the establishment of that policy and I have supported it in 8 administrations, Democratic and Republican, and it was not a disputed policy at that time….Every President of the U.S. since 1971, of both parties, has accepted this framework and once that framework is studied, I do not expect it to be overturned.” Reflecting on Trump’s call to Taiwan, Kissinger said, “to make Taiwan the key issue at the beginning of this dialogue, is in my view not the most efficient way of proceeding.”
Ambassador Hills asked Dr. Kissinger his thoughts on Trump’s proposed Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and how the latter has been criticized for his prior relationships with Russia. Kissinger said, “I pay no attention to this argument that he’s too friendly to Russia. As head of Exxon, it’s his job to get along with Russia. He would be useless as head of Exxon if he did not have a working relationship with Russia.” Kissinger praised Trump’s selection for Secretary of State and added that “we should not think about these relationships as the personal relationship of individuals.”
On China, Kissinger declared, “[We have to decide] whether to attempt to deal cooperatively or confrontationally…. I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail…. Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
C100 Member Dr. Cheng Li added, “If the Trump administration, in the first year or so, can really engage with China in a respectful way to deal with China’s issues, it can really be a great opportunity for Trump to change the public perception both at home and abroad.”
Dr. Kissinger also praised the new book by C100 member Cheng Li, Director of Brookings Institute John L. Thornton China Center, Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership, mentioning that he initially agreed to speak at this event to support Cheng Li‘s fine publication.
Dr. Kissinger is a long-time friend of the Committee of 100, having helped conceive the idea of and encouraged co-founders I.M. Pei and Henry Tang to establish the organization in 1988.
Participating Committee of 100 Members: