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China as a responsible stakeholder
Author:Fang Siyuan  Date:2017-05-12  Clicks:

“Our visas are issued!”

It was only 20 hours before our plane to Raleigh-Durham took off, and my partner and I could finally take a break from the exhausting anxiety that our planned visit to Duke wouldn’t happen because of a visa problem. Already exhausted, none of us could have imagined the kindness and hospitality we would experience in North Carolina.

Upon the courtesy of the International Program Office at Duke University and Duke Kunshan Office, we were invited to attend the annual Chinese Leadership Summit (CLS) co-held by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. CLS was planned and organized by students who share the vision that China will play a greater role in the future international community, and it consists of a series of keynote speeches as well as interactive seminars given by well-respected scholars.


Group photo of delegates

“China as a responsible stakeholder”

The first day of the event featured a reception dinner where over a hundred student delegates from all over the United States came together. I was sitting by Michael, a biology-majored student at Liberty University originally from Virginia. It was his second time to attend the summit. He told me his last experience was rewarding, and he expected no less this time.

He was right. Our first keynote speech was given by Professor Joseph Nye, the former Dean of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Governance. He began his speech using Britain and Germany before the night of the start of WWI as a historic metaphor. “Missteps and miscalculation could lead to war, and the greatest danger is our fear itself.” According to his speech, China will not challenge the current international orders, not only because China itself is a major beneficiary from the liberal order, but also because of its non-interference policy. Therefore, Washington’s fear for a rising China is unnecessary and can be problematic. “Judgment shouldn’t be clouded by fear, and the rise of China is good news for the world”, he said. By citing Kindleberger, he then went on talking about how both China and the U.S. should assume their responsibilities for global public good in areas such as environmental protection and global financial order. Professor Nye ended his speech by throwing out the question — what should be of greater concern, a rising China or a Trump administration?


Professor Nye taking questions from students

One thing that strikes me from the beginning of the summit was the crowd of foreign faces who come all the way to attend this event, so I asked around how everyone became interested in China. Zach (anonym) told us that he was initially interested in China because of his Chinese siblings, the four Chinese babies his parents adopted. “My parents are religious people and they believe it is God’s vision for them.” These babies, each had minor disability, were discarded by their original parents. In order to understand better the cultural background of his younger brothers and sisters, he took on Chinese classes and fell in love with it, and later evening decided to  minor in Chinese.

By the end of the event, we were heading back from Chapel Hills to Duke University but wasn’t able to uber a ride. Michael, despite the fact that his family was coming to meet him at UNC, offered to drive us to Duke and then come back. On our way to Duke, he told us the story of his grandparents who live in areas that are stricken heavily by globalization. “They always say that China has taken over American’s jobs. So I wonder how globalization works and how it affects different areas.” In a sea of helplessness and sympathy, I saw his hope, optimism and openness towards discussion. That is how I came to realize that it is just the beginning for us, and that we have a long way to go in becoming a responsible stakeholder.


Photo by Hillary Song, Edited by Wu Siying, Edmund Wai Man Lai & Hu Sijia


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