Since the summer of 2018, the US and China have dialed up their aggressive rhetoric and actions. To better understand the current state of the US-China relationship, some observers have drawn on historical precedents and, as a result, the “Cold War” analogy has increasingly dominated the headlines. At this critical juncture of the bilateral relationship, AmCham China is seeking to foster a sense of dialogue and mutual understanding among the business and academic community.

On August 26, AmCham China hosted a Policy+ exclusive roundtable examining the “Cold War” analogy and its role in US-China relations. The event featured Michael McFaul, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and former US Ambassador to Russia (2012-2014); Yamei Shen, Deputy Director, Department for International and Strategic Studies at the China Institute of International Studies; Rush Doshi, Director of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative and Fellow at Brookings Foreign Policy; and Weidong Liu, Deputy Director, Political Studies Department at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Attendees were senior executives from Chairman’s Circle companies and Policy+ subscribers.

Clockwise from top left: Tim Stratford, AmCham China Chairman Emeritus; Yamei Shen, China Institute of International Studies; Michael McFaul, Stanford Professor and former US Ambassador to Russia; Rush Doshi, Brookings Institute; Katie Beck, AmCham China Director of Government Affairs; and Weidong Liu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

This event took an in-depth look at the relevance of the Cold War analogy to the present realities, discussed the lessons that can be drawn from the Cold War, and offered advice for foreign companies trying to navigate these uncertainties. Throughout the event, several themes emerged: the US-China bilateral relationship resembles the Cold War in many ways, but in many other ways it does not; despite conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, the two countries still cooperated on important transnational issues and the US and China must seek to do the same, with the speakers emphasizing that the US and China must cooperate on issues such as climate change and nuclear proliferation regardless of the political issues dividing the two countries. In addition, the US and China must develop better mechanisms for reducing mutual misperceptions and misunderstandings.

This virtual roundtable was powered by Policy+, AmCham China’s premium subscription program that provides exclusive access to policymakers and influencers in China and the US. For more details, please email Chloe Ma at