Kennedy Speaker Discusses US and China Relations


Speculations about the future relationship between the U.S. and China often take place among political scientists,  political leaders and others. Wednesday, Eric Hyer, associate professor of political science and Asian studies coordinator, further speculated at the Kennedy Center.

Hyer spoke of two theories most people have about the future relationship of the U.S. and China and then shared his opinion. The first perspective was the neorealist perspective.

“The neorealist assumes the world is anarchist,” he said.

Hyer said neorealists believe the world is headed to conflict due to both countries’ economic interests. Hyer also shared some evidence of this belief with an example of a U.S. spy plane getting taken into custody by the Chinese.

“We had to engage in negotiations to get the crew and plane back,” he said.

Hyer also shared the neoliberal perspective, which holds the U.S. and China will continue to work together because of mutual benefits. Evidence of this perspective can also be found, as the two countries work on various world committees together with minimal conflicts. Examples of the committees include The United Nations and G20, a committee of 20 nations that work together on energy usage.

Neoliberals, according to Hyer, believe while the U.S. and China have had past conflicts, they keep the big picture in mind.

“Neoliberalists would say that this [lack of conflict] is because they had greater economic interests,” he said.

Finally, Hyer shared his opinion about the future between the two countries.

“Taiwan is China’s greatest concern,” he said. “We have to treat that with sensitivity.”

Hyer spoke about the pressure China puts on other nations. For example, if a nation is holding an event and China does not approve of a particular guest, China will refuse to attend until the that guest is uninvited.

Hyer addressed issues the U.S. has and issues the Chinese have which will need to be taken care of.

“The younger Chinese have a strong sense of nationalism and encourage their leaders to take a stand [against other nations],” he said.

He said the U.S. also has issues with bipartisanship.

“We deal with dysfunctionalism,” Hyer said. He said all in the country used to back the president’s decisions, but now they do not. According to Hyer, both countries will need to address their issues to avoid a conflict in the future.

“The U.S. and China relations will continue to experience friction,” he said. “The way we can work through this is to institutionalize the relationship.”

While many people believe China will become a superpower in coming years, Hyer does not think so.

“I don’t think the Chinese will take over the world anytime soon. Or ever,” he said.

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