November 9, 2007

Cornell Panel in D.C. Seeks to Deepen U.S.-China Relations

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In the context of the growing interdependence between the United States and China, Cornell University is making an effort to deepen its relationship with the Asian nation and promote a cultural and educational exchange between the two countries.
Last night, the “U.S.-China Relations: Building Cornell’s Connections” panel discussion, sponsored by the Cornell Club in Washington, was launched on Capitol Hill. The panel, organized just days after President David Skorton’s return from his own trip to China, featured experts on U.S.-China relations both from within and without the Cornell community. The panelists shared their perspectives on U.S-China issues and the University’s role in promoting relations between the two countries.
Panelists included Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) ’81, Richard Bush of the Brookings Institute, Prof. Chen Jian, history, and Jonathan Ray’09, a Cornell student majoring in China and Asia-Pacific Studies.
Kirk is the representative from Illinois’s 10th District who also serves as co-chair of the bi-partisan U.S.-China Working Group. His group works on building diplomatic relations with China and making Congress informed on U.S.-China issues through exchanges on academic, business and political levels. Kirk planned to speak about current issues in U.S.-China relations, including environmental issues and the importance of U.S.-China scholarly exchanges, according to the Cornell Club in Washington website.
The second speaker on the panel discussion was Bush, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institute in Washington. He was the Chairman of the Board and the Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 1997 and 2002 and currently focuses his studies on China-Taiwan relations, U.S.-China relations, the Korean peninsula and Japan’s security.
Bush planned to focus his presentation on “the challenges facing U.S.-China relations we are currently dealing with from a scholar’s and a practitioner’s perspectives,” according to Chen.
Chen hoped to speak about the China and Asia-Pacific Studies major at Cornell. The major was created two years ago.
He said, “I’m going to place the CAPS program into the larger context of U.S.-China relations. There are many challenges facing China and the United States, on a strategic [and] a policy and implementation level. But I think the most important [thing] is to promote the cultural understanding between the two peoples and educate the next generation’s citizens on the importance of handling the cultural differences between the two nations.”
Ray, the student representative from the CAPS major, hoped to add a student’s perspective to the panel discussion on Cornell’s education for the next-generation of U.S.-China experts.
“I will discuss my own as well as other students’ experiences as a CAPS major. This will include experiences from our internships, courses and living in D.C. I will also discuss what I hope to do in a future career as a CAPS major,” Ray said.
Up to the night of Nov. 6, there were approximately 130 people who signed up to attend the panel discussion, according to Bob Day ’56, the symposium coordinator. Most of the audience was composed of alumni and also included 12 CAPS majors in the Class of 2009.
“Our purpose is to let our alumni know how people here in Washington are working on China … and let people know Cornell’s scholarly exchanges with China and scholarly exchanges in China,” said Day.
According to Chen, the panel discussion also represented a good opportunity to introduce the CAPS program and Cornell’s efforts to internationalize its curriculum.
“I hope that this panel will serve to raise awareness about Cornell’s efforts to promote understanding in U.S.-China relations,” Ray said. “I think that our school is taking the lead on an issue that will grow increasingly important to American citizens.”
“I believe he will be discussing a large picture of U.S.-China relations, and especially the role the Congress may play in promoting the relationship,” Chen said.