SUSAN SHIRK, PH.D.


China in the 21st Century is a vibrant modern economy and society open to the world with a large educated urban middle class. Many people inside and outside China expected it to gradually institutionalize governance to make it more accountable, responsive, and law-bound. But Xi Jinping, determined to avoid the dire fate of the communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern, has turned in the opposite direction. He has restored Communist Party dominance and personalistic rule. What are the risks of his style of rule? And how legitimate and stable is his authority? We’ll look inside the black box of China’s secretive leadership politics to figure out how Xi Jinping achieved power and whether he might face a backlash from other politicians.


Leaders like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the founders of the PRC, ruled on the basis of personal charisma and followers. But subsequent leaders have been very different types of politicians who climbed up the ladder of success through regional posts. Based on my personal experiences and interviews, I’ll discuss their individual careers, personalities, and impacts on China and the world.


China looks like a confident regional and global power, but its leaders actually are highly insecure, constantly fretting about domestic threats to Communist Party rule. They worry about the risks of public leadership splits, large-scale unrest, and military disloyalty. How does this domestic fragility influence the way China behaves internationally? We’ll discuss the domestic fears of China’s leaders and how these fears drive their foreign policy actions.


The challenge of U.S. policy today is more complicated and contentious than when China was a poor country just emerging onto the world scene. Now China is a regional and global power with ambition and substantial capabilities. Leaders in Beijing are acting more assertively in Asia, more mercantilist in their economic strategies, and more authoritarian in their domestic politics, while at the same time long-time tenets of U.S. engagement policies are being questioned by Americans. Tensions are rising between the two countries as regional maritime disputes, trade and investment practices, human rights abuses and cyberespionage negatively impact U.S. interests. The quest for effective policy levers is complicated by the deeply intertwined nature of the U.S. and Chinese economies in which neither country stands to gain from economic difficulties in the author. I co-chair a bipartisan task force on U.S. policy toward China. We’ll identify a few of the most difficult policy dilemmas and talk through the options together.
 

SHEILA SMITH, PH.D.


Japanese society is aging faster than any other, and by 2045, over half of the Japanese population will be approaching or in retirement. This has tremendous consequences for virtually every dimension of Japanese society, and preparing for this society dominated by the elderly will produce tremendous challenges for Japanese policymakers. This lecture would focus on four areas where demographics will shape the future for the Japanese people: the changing role of women, the emerging technology of healthcare, the silenced youth in Japanese politics, and the automation of Japan’s military.


For centuries, the Japanese have debated their national identity and what it means for their role in the world. From the emergence of the modern Meiji state to the post-World War II reconstruction of a new pacifist nation, Japanese leaders have debated their nation’s place in the world. Over time, Japan’s relationships with the West (especially the United States) and with Asia (especially China), have often been in tension in this debate over national identity. Today, as the increasingly tumultuous geopolitics of Asia create new dilemmas for Japan, the Japanese people are once more asking who they are as a nation and what kind of relationships they want to forge with their neighbors. This lecture will review Japan’s relations with the major powers (Russia, China, the U.S. and India) as well as with the nations of Southeast Asia, contrasting Japan’s foreign policy of today with its foreign policy of the last century.


Media headlines continue to raise the specter of a militarizing Japan, and alarm bells are sounded about Japan rearming. The fact is that Japan rearmed decades ago. What has been changing since the end of the Cold War is the way Japanese perceive the utility of the military as an instrument of national policy. U.S. efforts to organize military coalitions to cope with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to address more systemic problems such as piracy and the proliferation of WMD, have raised new question in Tokyo about sending the SDF to participation in global security problems. The UN Peacekeeping Operations have also appealed to Japanese, and the SDF have since 1992 been a regular part of these military operations, albeit with some important restraints imposed on their behavior. Historically, the inclusion of military self-restraint in the Japanese Constitution sought to internalize longstanding norms of disarmament. Yet only Japan has signed on to this norm in Asia. Seventy years after its defeat and occupation, Japan’s continued debate over the use of its military, and indeed on when their military is allowed to use force beyond the narrow confines of self defense, offers an important look at how disarmament norms evolve in response to geopolitical change.


Bonnie Glaser will introduce China’s perspectives on their relationship with Japan. Sheila Smith will then flip the coin and discuss Japan’s perspectives. Both will then address how bilateral relations are trending, the prospects for future ties, and the opportunities and hurdles. Sheila will also discuss the island dispute in the East China Sea and how it is viewed from Beijing and Tokyo. In this joint session you will have an intimate look at one of emerging flash points of the new Asia, and how the rising tensions between the two Asian giants are shaping regional politics. The U.S. role with each of these two major Asian power would also be a feature of their discussion.
 

BONNIE GLASER, M.A.


During the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump pledged to impose 45% tariffs on imported Chinese goods and label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He didn’t follow through on either threat, but the U.S.-China relationship has been rocky nonetheless. The Trump administration named China a rival and a strategic competitor in its National Security Strategy. Many observers view China as posing a geopolitical challenge to the U.S. politically, economically, and militarily. Beijing is keen to keep bilateral ties on an even keel. Xi Jinping continues to call for the two countries to avoid confrontation, respect each other’s interests, and pursue win-win cooperation. This lecture will delve into the reasons that friction is growing in U.S.-China relations and explore potential pathways for the most consequential relationship in the world.


Maritime disputes are a major source of friction between China and its neighbors as well as between China and the United States. Sovereignty over a small group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called the Senkaku by the Japanese and the Diaoyu by the Chinese is contested between Beijing and Tokyo. The two countries also disagree over the delineation of their overlapping Exclusive Economic Zones and airspace. Territorial and jurisdictional disputes in the South China Sea continue to strain relations between China and countries in Southeast Asia. The six claimants have energy, fisheries, and security interests at stake. China’s construction of military outposts in the Spratly Island chain has caused tension with the United States, which has stepped up freedom of navigation operations and increased support for Southeast Asian partners. Can these disputes be managed or is conflict inevitable?


Beijing opposes North Korea’s rapid advancement in nuclear and missile capabilities and has reluctantly supported tightening sanctions on North Korea in the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, however, the Chinese are fearful that sanctions could create instability in North Korea and ultimately lead to economic and regime collapse. In such circumstances, reunification could be unfavorable to China. Talk in the Trump administration of launching a limited, preventive military strike on North Korea has created anxiety in China. There is an intense debate in China about Chinese policy toward North Korea, with some groups advocating greater pressure on Pyongyang, and others opposing cooperation with the international community against China’s “lips and teeth” ally. To what extent do Chinese interests coincide with those of the United States, Japan, and South Korea? Does Beijing have leverage over North Korea? What would China do in the event of another Korean War? We’ll discuss these questions and the likely future trajectory of Chinese policy toward North Korea.


Bonnie Glaser will introduce China’s perspectives on their relationship with Japan. Sheila Smith will then flip the coin and discuss Japan’s perspectives. Both will then address how bilateral relations are trending, the prospects for future ties, and the opportunities and hurdles. Sheila will also discuss the island dispute in the East China Sea and how it is viewed from Beijing and Tokyo. In this joint session you will have an intimate look at one of emerging flash points of the new Asia, and how the rising tensions between the two Asian giants are shaping regional politics. The U.S. role with each of these two major Asian power would also be a feature of their discussion.
 

STEVEN LEE MYERS


Tapping into seven years of reporting for The New York Times in Russia and deep research, Steven Lee Myers offers an understanding of Vladimir Putin. From his childhood in Leningrad to his rise in the KGB, from his many domestic reforms to his engineered imperial authoritarianism, we will talk about the factors and experiences that have shaped the leader Putin has become.


From an early post Cold War embrace of the United States and the West to the “little green men” and the war in Syria: how did Putin’s Russia and the United States segue from one Cold War to the next? We take a look at the world views, ideologies, calculations, demographics, economics, and technologies contributing to Putin’s challenges to the United States and its Western allies.


United States and international intelligence services think that Russia intervened in the United States’ 2016 presidential election. Steven Lee Myers examines illicit 2016 election interventions and presents some first-hand reporting from Washington, D.C. on how Russia intervened and what the U.S. did — and didn’t do — to stop it. Get a sense of the lessons learned from 2016, and how they did and did not improve the integrity and sovereignty of the 2018 elections.


Journalism is a challenging and demanding profession in any venue. International reporters in China are faced with all the normal processes of the discipline, plus the need to navigate in a society where routine journalistic activities may be viewed as undesirable and destabilizing. Join Steven Lee Myers (who, in February 2018 was detained for 17 hours by police in Sichuan province before being put on a plane back to Beijing) for a first-person acccount of what it’s like to work when you are being followed, watched, monitored, and hacked in a distinctly chilling environment.