Geopolitical 2019

The Rise of Asia in the 21st Century: What It Means for the United States

Wed Jan 23, 2019
6:00 AM - 8:45 PM
Event Video

Will the 21st century be the “Asian Century?” Asia is a global powerhouse of economic growth. However, Asia’s future trajectory remains uncertain due to serious challenges that are environmental, political, economic and social. Militarily, China continues to flex its muscles and extend its reach in the South China Sea while North Korea’s nuclear weapons program continues to be a grave concern. This two-day, four-session program will provide an in-depth focus on major issues impacting both Asia and the United States and the relationship between the two powers.[spacer height=”20px”]

Wednesday, January 23, Session 1: 6 – 7:15 p.m.; Session 2: 7:30 – 8:45 p.m.

Session 1: Is China Ready for Global Leadership and What Does that Mean for the U.S.? with John Pomfret

With the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s Brexit vote, does China have a historic opportunity to seize the reins of global leadership from the United States and the West? What is meant by the China Solution and does it represent a viable alternative to the western world order?

China is engaged in a massive international infrastructure project called One Belt, One Road that involves Asia, Africa and Europe. The Chinese insist the initiative will increase connectivity, observers see it as a bid for dominance in global affairs and trade. However, will China’s own challenges of a declining birth rate, shrinking workforce, rapidly aging population and monumental environmental problems halt their ascent? Or, will AI and robotics be China’s trump card?

Session 2: Does Anyone Win a Trade War? with Brad Setser

The U.S. has now put tariffs on about half of its imports from China and is threatening to put a 25 percent tariff on all imports from China at the start of 2019. Are the tariffs a justified reaction to China’s failure to live up to the spirit, if not the letter, of its WTO commitments and its import-substituting policies? Or are they an over-reach that will only damage American firms and consumers? Are there alternative tools available to encourage economic reform in China? The trade situation between the US and China changes constantly; Brad Setser will provide an update and interpretation of the latest developments.

Thursday, January 24, Session 1: 6 – 7:15 p.m.; Session 2: 7:30 – 8:45 p.m.

Session 1: Hear My Voice: Reflections on Democratic Change in Asia and What Lies Ahead with Johanna Kao

In the past 20 years, east Asia has witnessed profound economic and social change. The broad parameters of the Asian economic story are well known; perhaps less so is the way in which Asian societies have adopted – and adapted – democratic norms. Across the region, countries emerged from periods of authoritarian rule and took on democratic institutions and practices. It can be argued that the region as a whole is more democratic than it was 20 years ago, but perhaps less democratic than 10 years ago. With that in mind, how meaningful have these changes been and are they sustainable? What impact have these transitions had on the lives of ordinary citizens? From her perspective of two decades of work with activists and practitioners in Asia, Johanna Kao will share first-hand accounts of the civic and political leaders who have shaped the nature and trajectories of these struggles and the way that ordinary citizens have embraced democratic ideals to effect change over their lives.

Session 2: China and the Coming Post-American World with Jamie Metzl
China’s spectacular rise and the largely self-inflicted damage the United States has wreaked on itself has hastened the demise of the postwar international order far more quickly than most anyone could have predicted only a few short years ago. As China seeks actively to recast the international order in its own image, how should America and the rest of the world respond? In a world where competition can be both win-win and zero-sum, what is the right response to the challenge and opportunity of China that increases the potential for mutually beneficial future developments and minimizes the chance of conflict and war?

This program is generously underwritten by Brian Stockmar and Laura Tumperi.

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Event Video


Brad W. Setser

Brad W. Setser

Senior Fellow for International Economics

Council on Foreign Relations

John Pomfret

John Pomfret


Washington Post

Jamie Metzl

Jamie Metzl

Senior Fellow

The Atlantic Council

Johanna Kao

Johanna Kao

Asia Regional Director

International Republican Institute

Greg Dobbs

Greg Dobbs