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Camden Conference in the World-November 2018

“When developing countries and partners think of the China Model, they often, incorrectly, think of it as purely a top-down model,” 2019 Camden Conference speaker Yuen Yuen Ang told an audience in Cambodia recently, in a display of the “fresh perspectives” for which she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow earlier this year. In fact, “different parts of China have followed many different paths to economic and social development over the last several decades. Their commonality is the adaptation of central mandates to local conditions.” Praising attempts to revive the traditional Cambodian silk weaving industry, University of Michigan professor Ang suggested that China itself needs to learn that other countries “want to build their future their own way, too.”

MIT Professor and fellow 2019 Camden Conference speaker Yasheng Huang, who has his own insightful take on the Chinese development model, argued recently in the MIT Technology Review that China’s adoption of “social credit scoring” that will “give each citizen a trustworthiness rating based on anything from shopping habits to choice of friends,” while obviously a form of surveillance, could inadvertently “make the country a little less repressive.”

China has taken unfair advantage of US companies, but “leading us into a trade war isn’t going to solve the problem,” is the moderate stance that our 2019 moderator Indira Lakshmanan – already a favorite in 2018 — took on the recent turn in US/Chinese relations in a column for her long-time employer the Boston Globe. Lakshmanan, also a frequent guest host on National Public Radio and elsewhere, this summer became executive editor of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

Past Camden Conference speakers have been commenting on China’s increasing complex global relations, as well. In this fascinating twist on the 2019 conference theme, 2015 speaker Fyodor Lukyanov looks at Russia-Chinese relations through the vector of Russian-Japanese relations. Lukyanov is editor of the foreign policy journal Russia in Global Affairs.

The tragic death of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has brought several past Camden Conference speakers into the spotlight. 2013  keynoter Robin Wright, now a contributing writer to the New Yorker and joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center, .quoted 2013 conference moderator Nicolas Burns in this forceful critique of Saudi government handling of the incident. It was followed just days later by an assessment of the prospects for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yet another 2013 speaker, Gregory Gause, now at the Bush School of Government at Texas A. & M, was quoted this time, as suggesting that the royal family probably will not unite to oust MbS.

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