In the first episode of 2021, The Pacific Dialogue features David Firestein, CEO and President of the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations in Austin, Texas, and Da Wei, a professor at the Department of International Relations and senior fellow at the Center of International Strategy and Security at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Their conversation, via video and moderated by the host James Chau, focuses on what it might take for China and the United States to stop the further erosion in their relationship. Da Wei calls attention to a window of opportunity up to mid-2022 during which China would hold its key 20th Party Congress and the U.S. goes through the mid-term elections, cautioning a dangerous infection point in 2014 if the two sides fail to “fix the problem.” David Firestein laments the failure of the two nations coming together to fight the coronavirus that has caused devastation world-wide, calling it a “missed opportunity.”
The two guests speak on the battle of rhetoric on the diplomatic front and how former U.S. president Trump has contributed the division between the two nations. Both take delight in a change of tone after President Joe Biden takes office, with Da Wei asserting that he hopes both governments can “roll up our sleeves and do something real.”
The guests share their takes on the prospect of a return of U.S.-China collaboration on climate change and the importance of personal touch of top leaders in stabilizing the relationship. They also comment on the latest development in Myanmar and point out the differences the two governments in approaching the crisis in Myanmar. However, Firestein doesn’t see the dissimilarities could escalate into a point of contention in the U.S-China agenda. “We've already got enough issues to worry about at this point,” he said.