Skip to content

Diplomacy in Action: Exploring U.S.-China Relations

Ex-U.S. Consul General, Ken Jarrett, and Chinese diplomacy expert, Dr. Shen Dingli, speak with Pabel Vivanco Cardenas (Westminster College) and Abraham Wapner (University of Virginia) during the World Diplomacy field lab in Shanghai.

As the world continues to become more interconnected, the need for effective diplomacy has never been greater. Professor Breck Walker of Sewanee (The University of the South)facilitated an opportunity for students in his World Diplomacy class to take a deep dive into the intricacies of Chinese statecraft and U.S.-Sino relations during their visit to Shanghai. The day-long Field Lab was hosted by the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, and included seminars by renowned scholar Dr. Shen Dingli and two American diplomats from the U.S. consulate.

Dr. Shen, one of the foremost experts on U.S.-China relations, kicked off the day with a comprehensive  review of Chinese and American diplomacy over the past 230 years. As he described the evolution of the relationship between these two countries—from the first American envoy that arrived in 1784, to the modern debates around trade and political security—it became apparent that there have been numerous diplomatic highs and lows. “I feel the future in twenty or thirty years is bright,” Dr. Shen assured the students, “but the next ten years could be quite unstable.”

Ken Jarrett, a longtime American diplomat in China and former director of Asian affairs on the U.S. National Security Council, shared Dr. Shen’s sentiments. He described some recent trends toward increased collaboration and broadening of the relationship between America and China, but he also candidly discussed some of the “headaches” and power shifts that challenge the diplomatic process. However, Jarrett explained that in spite of the occasional difficulties, “the interdependence of the two countries becomes deeper day by day. There’s nothing that’s happening that’s of significance to China that doesn’t matter to the United States.”

Students also had the opportunity to hear from Deputy Consul General, Jim Mullinax, of the American Consulate in Shanghai and engage with all three presenters in a question and answer session. “It was incredible to speak with real live diplomats, to hear what’s really going on in China, and to learn how the U.S. government is approaching some of the difficult issues the two countries face together,” said student, Abraham Wapner of the University of Virginia. Wapner was particularly intrigued by Dr. Shen’s analysis of the way Confucian values influence Chinese foreign policy. “It was really neat to tie all that together, and it was an experience you couldn’t get back at home.”

Topics
  • Life on Land

Related Articles

News
Who’s On Board? Meet Dorcas, our Tutu Ubuntu Scholar
Read More
News
Semester at Sea updates Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 itineraries with new destinations on three continents
Read More
News
Spring 2023 Voyage: By the Numbers
Read More