April 13, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 14

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    Students, scholars, policy leaders to look more closely at China’s complex world role

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    The tremendous changes in China over the past two decades have created substantial differences in world views between the younger and the older generations and between those living in the rich cities and those who reside in rural areas, many of which are still very poor. The photo above was taken by Dan Michaeli in the Yunnan Province during one of his trips to China.

    Chicago Society is putting a spotlight on China.

    At its upcoming conference, “China and the Future of the World,” scheduled for Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, members of the student-run Chicago Society will welcome guest speakers from around the globe as they focus on a country that Chicago Society President Dan Michaeli calls, “incredibly diverse, interesting and often misunderstood.”

    Michaeli explained that the goal of the conference is to improve the understanding Americans have of modern-day China, particularly its rapid transformations in economics, society and politics, foreign policy toward the United States, and the role China plays in the global economy.

    Michaeli, a third-year concentrating in history, has been organizing the China conference since last spring and is looking forward to facilitating an important dialogue between the University community and world leaders.

    “If we bring the best thinkers in the field together, we can create an outstanding environment for discussion and dialogue about China today and China tomorrow,” Michaeli said. “I believe we are bringing something extraordinary to campus.”

    Keynote speakers for the conference, which will be held at the International House, 1414 E. 59th St., are Christopher Hill, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Peter Rodman, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Merle Goldman, professor emerita of history at Boston University; and Wang Guangya, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations.

    Although he was unable to attend the conference, Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, wrote in a letter to President Randel: “I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for what you and the University of Chicago have done in enhancing exchanges and understanding between China and the United States. I am sure that the upcoming conference, the newest effort in this endeavor, will be a great success.”


    Michaeli and Chicago Society member Alexander Graham, who is Vice-Chair of the Conference Coordinating Committee, are hoping to encourage understanding of the critical, powerful role China will play in the future of every country in the world, particularly the United States.

    “Over the last decade or so, China has really emerged as one of the most sophisticated diplomatic players in the world, ” said Graham, who is a third-year concentrating in political science. “We are raising general awareness about this and hoping to increase the level of sophistication of American knowledge about China.”

    Michaeli added, “There has been an incredible shift in China’s willingness to put itself out there in the world. For some time, the country was very internally focused, but recently, China has built complex strategic relationships with many countries, which intersect with American interests in challenging ways.”

    The two-day symposium will include four panels. The first, on Friday, April 28, will be “U.S. Business and Government: Responding to the China Challenge.” Anil Kashyap, the Edward Eagle Brown Professor of Economics and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, will moderate this panel.

    Saturday’s first panel discussion will be “Politics and Society in China.” Dali Yang, Professor and Chair of Political Science, will moderate this first discussion. Bruce Cumings, the Norman and Edna Freehling Professor of History, will moderate the panel on foreign policy, titled “China, the United States and the World.” John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science, will be an expert on this panel. Prasenjit Duara, Professor and Chair of History, will moderate the final panel discussion, “China’s Future in the Age of Globalization.”

    Sixteen other speakers are scheduled to attend the conference, including Mark Kirk, U.S. Congressman and Co-Chair of the House U.S.-China Working Group; Theodore Schaffner, senior vice president for corporate development of Motorola, Inc.; James Lilley, former United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and currently a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and Ted Fishman, freelance journalist and author of China, Inc.

    Coming from China for the conference will be Wu Jianmin, President of China Foreign Affairs University and former Chinese Ambassador to France, Zhang Jun, professor of economics and director of the China Center for Economics at Fudan University in Shanghai, and Wang Hui, research professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and author of China’s New Order: Society, Politics and Economy in Transition.

    Simultaneous translation will be available during all of the conference sessions to accommodate guests, and Chinese food will be offered for lunch on Saturday.

    All University students, staff and faculty will be admitted free of charge. Registration is $15 for alumni and $20 for the general public. Advanced Registration for all guests is highly recommended, as seating is limited.

    Additional information about the conference and registration for guests are available on the Chicago Society’s Web page at http://chicagosociety.uchicago.edu/china.