Hello again, everyone! This morning, our session dealt with our national deficit here in the United States. Dr. James Thurber, professor at American University, used much of his lecture time to answer our questions pertaining to the budget. However, before he opened up for Q&A, he explained many different budgetary terms to us, such as: authorization, appropriation, discretionary spending, and continuing resolution. Even though I have taken political science classes at Arkansas Tech that have introduced me to these terms prior to the seminar, it was nice to have a memory refresher. Once he was finished explaining and giving examples of his vocabulary terms, he opened up for questions.
In the afternoon, my small group took a trip to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which is a think tank that “is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community.” We were scheduled to listen to a panel discussion (that was shown live on CSPAN) between three renowned experts on China talking about U.S. relations with China as well as the anticipated impact that a Trump presidency will have on this relationship. The expert panelists were Ambassador J. Stapleton (Stape) Roy, Dr. Andrew Wedeman, and Robert Daly. Roy started the panel by explaining what the “one China” policy is. Basically, once China split into Taiwan and mainland China, both groups proclaimed that they held the exclusive power of China. The United States now formally recognizes mainland China, while we also unofficially recognize Taiwan and trade with them as well. Roy says that Trump is not taking the one China policy seriously, as he sees it as a pawn in possible negotiations. Until Trump formally recognizes the one China policy, a looming stand-off will exist between the United States and China. Dr. Wedeman posed some rhetorical questions in order to focus the panel a little bit more. He told us to think about the following: “What is Trump’s end game when it comes to China? What does he want out of the negotiations? What happens if the world’s two largest economies sever ties and enter into a trade war?” He explained that the trade relationship between the United States and China is the most important bilateral relationship in the world, therefore, it is very important that Trump doesn’t damage that relationship and create unrest between the two countries. When Daly began his portion of the discussion, it was clear that he employed a very humanistic approach. He challenged us to forget our preconceptions of China being “evil” and “dangerous”, but rather think of them as 1/5 of humankind. If we can think of them in those terms rather than the more pessimistic ones, we can more easily put ourselves into their shoes. Daly pointed out that many politicians claim that the solution to the U.S. competition with China is to keep China from advancing further internationally. He questioned this proposed tactic by saying, “is the right approach really to hinder China’s progress when it would hurt 1/5 of the world’s population?” I have always heard very negative things about China, so naturally I had never thought of it in this way before. He pointed out that the interdependence on trade was so intricate that China would not be the only country that the United States would affect if we implemented harsher policies towards the Chinese. Daly’s alternative way of thinking opened my mind and helped me understand what was going on a little bit better. Once the panel opened up for questions, one of the first topics to come up was China’s as well as the U.S.’s climate change policies. Given that the Trump administration could very well terminate the U.S.’s compliance in the Paris Agreement, the panel surprisingly agreed that in this situation, China would likely move forward even unilaterally if necessary with the emissions regulations. In China, the pollution has become so great that it really isn’t optional anymore whether or not they cooperate with climate change protocols. The other popular topic during the Q&A was the effect that China’s rise in power will have on the U.S. The panelists also came to the consensus that, depending on the circumstances, a second superpower (rather than the U.S. being the only one) could actually be a good thing. Ideally, this would mean that the United States no longer had to carry the burden of solving the world’s problems alone, which could actually stabilize things. On the other hand, the United States cannot partner with a country that uses oppressive Communism as a way of governing. Whether this situation is a positive or a negative thing is very conditional.
Once we left the Wilson Center, our faculty leader took us to the roof at the Hotel Washington so that we were able to get a better view of the White House. It was incredible! The restaurant on the enclosed rooftop was very elegant and we were able to see the Washington skyline so clearly. Today was full of both information and walking, so it’s now time to relax. Tomorrow will more than likely be abnormally busy (even for D.C.) since the inauguration is Friday. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!