University professor co-hosts dialogue between American and Chinese diplomats

Manchester China Institute Director Peter Gries co-hosted the 13th US-China Young Diplomats Dialogue.

Professors Gries (white shirt) and Wu (royal blue blazer) with the 15 Chinese and American diplomats in La Jolla, California, June 6, 2023.

On June 5-6, 15 Chinese and American diplomats met in La Jolla, California for the 13th annual US-China Young Diplomats Dialogue , co-hosted by Professor Peter Gries of the Manchester China Institute.

The retreat involved formal sit-down discussions of topics including the sources of trust and mistrust in U.S.-China relations, and confidence building and other measures to improve U.S.-China Relations. It also included informal activities for the diplomats, including hiking in Torrey Pines Reserve along the Pacific coast, and attending a Padres (San Diego) vs Cubs (Chicago) baseball game, which the Padres won. These activities gave the Chinese and American diplomats ample opportunity to get to know one another better, and further discuss bilateral issues.

Professor Peter Gries established the US-China Young Diplomats Dialogue in 2007 to generate mutual trust and improve U.S.-China relations, and cohosts it annually with Fudan University Professor WU Xinbo. It does this by creating an informal retreat-like atmosphere in which participating diplomats can establish personal relationships while frankly exchanging their views on bilateral relations.

The 13th Dialogue was held in La Jolla, California, generously and expertly hosted by the 21st Century China Center at the University of California at San Diego.

Because of its timing, this Dialogue was beyond question the most consequential of the 13 held since 2007. Mutual trust in US-China relations today is virtually non-existent. American and Chinese leaders are refusing to speak to one another. In February, US Secretary of State Blinken cancelled a trip to Beijing after a Chinese spy balloon violated US sovereign airspace. And military tensions are high, with recent near collisions between Chinese and American planes and naval vessels in international waters in both the Taiwan Straits and the South China Seas.

In this context, that the Chinese and US governments agreed to resume our Dialogue after pandemic lockdowns halted them speaks to the importance both sides place on our dialogue. And while the diplomats were frank about the challenges confronting US-China relations, there were also moments of clear empathy and desires to build mutual trust.

The participating American diplomats were Nick Snyder, Gareth Collins, Kim Fassler, Eric Bigelow, Paul Prokop, Emily Abraham, and Ashley Wood. The Chinese diplomats were LI Xiang (李想), WEN Zhirong (温志荣), HA Lisi (哈oe思), and PENG Yutian (oe 田), all from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, and ZHU Shaoding (朱韶鼎), KANG Ning (康 ), ZHANG Jingcheng (张景铖), and HOU Jieying (侯洁莹) from the Chinese Consulates in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles respectively.