AFR Chairman David Lin was invited to attend the 2024 Fair Winds Lecture "America's Grand Strategy Towards China" on March 16. 

David Rank (Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs Senior Fellow / Head of China Practice at the Cohen Group) and Mr. Edward “Ted” Wittenstein (Executive Director of International Security Studies at Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs),  joined Dr. Chi Su (Chairman of the Taipei Forum / former Secretary-General of the National Security Council) and moderator Dr. Yi-huah Jiang (Chairman of 長風基金會|Fair Winds Foundation / former Premier of the ROC) to discuss America’s Grand Strategy towards Mainland China. 

Below are their summarized points. 

Edward Wittenstein: 
-Biden’s phrase “competition without conflict” to describe US-China relations is easy to say but difficult to carry out. 
-The APEC Summit in San Francisco improved East-West relations and resulted in (1) a counter-narcotics agreement, (2) resumption of talks between senior officials, (3) an agreement by both US and China that AI will have an impact on their relations (AI safety and security talks are expected this spring), and, perhaps most importantly, (4) rebooted human-to-human interactions. 
-Right now, China’s focus has been concentrated on their economic situation, which could result in the Taiwan Issue momentarily taking a backseat. On the other hand, in order to divert public attention away from the severity of its economic status, China could shift its focus to the Taiwan strait. 
-The US’s cyclical change of power and divided political parties makes it difficult to set long term plans into motion. 
T-he US, along with its allies in the Indo-Pacific, are closely monitoring China and its goals to “project power and influence and impose its system of governance and values” on other countries in the region. In response to this, Wittenstein said that the US's policy is the One China Policy, which is to “not support Taiwan independence and to oppose all efforts to unilaterally alter the status quo.”  

David Rank: 
-For the most part, there is a general consensus on both sides of the aisle on US-China relations. 
-Although the US was instrumental in bringing China into the World Trade Organization, US-China relations are not strong as they once were and another crisis (such as the 2023 Chinese spy balloon incident) could shatter relations. 
-Given how limited the US influence is on China, the attention must be focused not on attempting to control Chinese politics, trade, military, etc. but instead on investing in America. “There’s a consensus now in Washington that China is the end of a China strategy rather than the beginning of a China strategy because the country over which we have the most influence is the US.” By bolstering the American economy, reinforcing democratic systems, and rebuilding the labor force, the US makes itself more competitive and instills confidence in free market democracy across the world.
-The US’s goal is to “keep Taiwan off of Xi Jinping’s to-do list.” 

Chi Su:
Comments on the US Grand Strategy Towards China (4 points)- 
1. It has a relatively weak intellectual foundation compared to the strategy introduced in 1968. 
-Neither China nor America has experience dealing with each other as a peer competitor; to remedy this, the US should invite more Chinese specialists to Washington, DC to engage in dialogue and break up potential hive mind mentalities. 
-China is too large and proud to go down the Western path of democratization.
2. The US Grand Strategy Towards China assumes that China’s ambitions are larger than they are in reality. 
-Although Taiwan and the South China Sea are areas of interest to China, the East China Sea is not. China does not seek to extend its power as far beyond its borders as assumed by the US. 
-China’s One Belt, One Road policy could have been an opportunity for joint collaboration – as told by a former US official, but instead US lawmakers used this policy as proof of China’s colonial imperialism ambitions. 
3. America has projected their Democratic aspirations onto Taiwan, painting a somewhat idealistic, exaggerated picture of their government and people. 
-Taiwan is only a “half” democracy. Elected presidents are more accurately described as elected monarchs; they can appoint and fire anyone at their own discretion and hold press conferences as infrequently as they please.
-“Americans love Taiwan because they hate China.” Taiwan is lauded as a vibrant democracy in comparison to China, not in its own right.
The US overestimates Taiwan’s willingness to take up arms. Instead, Taiwan should take up its own responsibility — “right now they (Taiwan) can neither fight nor talk.” 
4. The US should reorganize and focus more on its internal rather than external affairs. 

In conclusion, both American speakers cited China’s lack of transparency as one of the largest impediments to US-China relations. “You can see their capability but can’t read their intent,” said Mr. Weinstein on China’s military, aerospace, and naval capabilities. The US must increase their own standing and build awareness about the threat without blowing it out of proportion. In regards to Taiwan, the best course of action would be to keep Taiwan off of Xi Jinping’s agenda until future generations can come together in open, transparent dialogue and produce a better solution. 

The full recording can be found here: