Audio: Lessons Learned from 40 Years of U.S.-China Diplomacy


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James Green, Senior Research Fellow at Georgetown University, speaks at the Asia-Pacific Research Center's China Program on May 6th, 2019.

James Green, former Minister Counselor for Trade Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, gave a talk titled “U.S.-China Diplomacy: 40 Years of What’s Worked and What has Not” before a Stanford China Program audience on May 6. Green is currently Senior Research Fellow at Georgetown University and is the creator of the new U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast, which features in-depth interviews with approximately two dozen former U.S. ambassadors, cabinet-level secretaries and other senior officials who were at the forefront of U.S.-China negotiations.

He recounts salient takeaways from these conversations regarding pivotal moments in U.S.-China relations, including normalization of relations, anti-Soviet cooperation in the 1980s, Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, Taiwan Strait crisis of 1995-1996, WTO accession in 2001, Belgrade bombing and EP-3 incident in 1999 and 2001, respectively; global financial crisis of 2008, the Beijing Olympics and the current U.S.-China trade tensions.  Among his many motivations for beginning this podcast series include his desire to question the notion circulating among U.S. foreign policy experts today that U.S. policy of engagement towards China had somehow failed. To Green, who has been active in U.S.-China relations since the mid-1990’s, U.S. policy had never been about transforming China from a one-Party, authoritarian system into a liberal democracy. In order to more accurately pinpoint what U.S. goals have been, Green stated, he undertook the project and interviewed those who had played key roles during pivotal moments in U.S.-China bilateral relations.

His interviewees have included, among others, such luminaries as Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, who in 1978 participated in secret negotiations that led to the establishment of U.S.-P.R.C. diplomatic relations; John Negroponte, first director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state in the late 2000s during China’s rise; and Ambassador Michael Froman, former U.S. Trade Representative under President Obama. His talk at the Stanford China Program includes key lessons he has derived from these interviews even as we enter into one of the most volatile times in U.S.-China bilateral relations.

The recording and transcript are available below.