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Camden Conference in the World-December 2018

Camden Conference speakers past and future have been weighing in on China-US tensions that are dominating headlines worldwide – and will figure prominently in the February 2019 conference Is This China’s Century? The Trump administration has an important story to tell about “the challenge that China poses to the fundamental principles embraced by market democracies globally: free trade and open markets, freedom of navigation, and good governance,” 2019 speaker and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations Elizabeth Economy wrote last month in a Council on Foreign Relations blog post. “Understanding the nature of the challenge is the first step toward developing an appropriate strategy to address it,” she continues.

American diplomat and author Chas Freeman presents a sharply different take on the tensions in a November interview with Xinhua, the official Chinese state press agency: China and the United States “have no alternative to living and working together… The notion of a community and a shared future is an appropriate vision for us to aspire to,” Freeman was quoted as saying. “China is returning to a preeminent role in its region and a prominent role in global affairs,” he added. “These are facts and trends, not the product of some sort of Chinese plot.” Freeman, a keynoter and speaker at multiple Camden Conferences, first entered the international limelight as principle translator for President Richard Nixon on his groundbreaking 1972 trip to China. He later served as US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

As a person with a strong background in technology who is both “fully American” and “fully Chinese,” Kaiser Kuo in a recent interview with a US investment blogger bridged the gap to a degree, laying out some of the cultural and social differences in the way the two countries are approaching technological development at the moment. The first contrast highlighted by Kuo, who will be joining Economy as a 2019 Camden Conference speaker, is between the “faith in the ability of technology to deliver better lives” that is still pervasive in China and the “anxiety about technology” now prevalent in the US. (As a reminder, the Camden Conference does not in any way endorse the investment advice or approach advocated in the Daily Wealth blog in which this interview appears.)

On another headline grabbing topics, Lawrence Wilkerson, 2012 Camden Conference speaker and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell joined with Camden Conference Program Committee member and professor emeritus at American University’s School of International Service Gordon Adams — and also with Yale professor Isaiah Wilson III — in a New York Times opinion piece that accuses President Donald Trump of using US troops at the Mexican border as “toy soldiers” for “electoral gain, not security.”

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