On U.S.-China Relations: Avoiding the Trap

Thursday, May 11, 2017
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Black Community Services Center

418 Santa Teresa Street

Stanford, CA 94305

  • Max Baucus,
  • Michael H. Armacost ,
  • Kathleen Stephens ,
  • Daniel R. Russel

china uscapital reuters A Chinese flag and American flag fly on a lamp post along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in Washington during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit, January 18, 2011.
The Thucydides Trap is real. Whether China’s rising power leads to conflict or cooperation is up to us. Whether the gears of our two nations grind or mesh depends on the effort and creativity we put into the endeavor. The question is how to avoid the trap. American diplomacy with China is dated. U.S exceptionalism and sense of superiority sometimes undermines our good intentions. U.S.’ views tend to be short term, unfocused, and pre-occupied with ad hoc developments elsewhere in the world. The U.S. government needs a much better long-term framework or strategy that deals with the China reality. So far, the U.S. and China have avoided major controversy. However, as China continues to grow and establish itself as a dominant world power, the U.S. must be more creative and willing to take increasingly thoughtful and considered risks.

Multimedia for this event.

Max Sieben Baucus is the former U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China (2014-2017) and a former U.S. Senator from Montana (1978-2014). On January 7, 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Max Sieben Baucus to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the People's Republic of China. He served as Ambassador from February 21, 2014 until January 19, 2017.  Ambassador Baucus formerly served as the senior United States Senator from Montana from 1978 to 2014 and was Montana’s longest serving U.S. Senator as well as the third longest tenure among those serving in the U.S. Senate. Senator Baucus was Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, Vice Chairman of the joint Committee on Taxation, member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super committee). Before his election to the U.S. Senate, he represented Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978. Ambassador Baucus has extensive experience in international trade. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, he led the passage and enactment of the Free Trade Agreements with 11 countries: Australia, Bahrain, Jordan, Chile, Colombia, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore and South Korea. He also was deeply involved in orchestrating the congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations with China in 2000 and in facilitating China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001. Ambassador Baucus was also the chief architect of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law on March 23, 2009. Ambassador Baucus earned a bachelor’s and law degree from Stanford University. He is married to Melodee Hanes and they have three children and one granddaughter.

The Oksenberg Lecture, held annually, honors the legacy of Professor Michel Oksenberg (1938–2001). A senior fellow at Shorenstein APARC and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Professor Oksenberg served as a key member of the National Security Council when the United States normalized relations with China, and consistently urged that the United States engage with Asia in a more considered manner. In tribute, the Oksenberg Lecture recognizes distinguished individuals who have helped to advance understanding between the United States and the nations of the Asia-Pacific.

At times beginning in 2009 the decision was made to expand this series from its original lecture format to a workshop in order to bring scholars and policy makers together to discuss the ever-changing role China is playing in today's world. This new format allows for the exchange of ideas and opinions amongst today's top experts.

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