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CHINA Town Hall: What Comes Next?

November 10, 2020

John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, former Acting Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
The discussion was moderated by Andrew C. Mertha, Dean of the Faculty and the George and Sadie Hyman Professor and Director of the China Studies Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS.
Experts on China joined the school for a national conversation on the implications of China’s rise on US-China relations and on the United States more broadly. The event was part of the annual CHINA Town Hall series hosted by the National Committee on United States-China relations. For this year’s discussion, Lipsky provided commentary on the keynote national address made by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, about China’s future and its relations with the United States. 
Lipsky began the conversation with comments on Ray Dalio’s speech, which he noted was focused on the big picture and relatively optimistic. Lipsky went on to outline some of the major problems confronting China, including its slow productivity growth and shrinking labor force. He argued that the root cause lies in the country’s failure to convert to a market-based economy from a command-based one. Lipsky discussed the possibilities for reform, while noting the political bottlenecks that remain.
On US-China relations, Lipsky argued that it is possible for the US and China to return to the post-2008 financial crisis period, during which there was widespread acknowledgement of shared interests and a win-win relationship. He addressed the confrontational discourses on trade rules and fair competition that have plagued the bilateral relationship in recent years, emphasizing that a rules-based narrative and system with full participation from both countries could counter the current trend toward confrontation.