On September 10, the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD) hosted one-on-one conversation with Honourable Chas Freeman titled ‘The Sino-American Split: At Sea with a Broken Compass’. This virtual discussion was held from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EST) and can be watched on YouTube.
This one-on-one conversation with Ambassador Freeman was part of an ongoing series on the current landscape of US-China relations. Entitled “The Sino-American Split: At Sea with a Broken Compass,” the dialogue featured the Ambassador’s perspectives on mistaken assumptions in the US-China rivalry amid Washington’s efforts to maintain its vision of the global order. The conversation also explored the underlying convictions of the Biden administration’s China policy and the ideological assumptions behind a narrative of a renewed Cold War.
The dusk of Pax Americana has repositioned the US foreign policy establishment in uncharted geopolitical waters. Competition between Beijing and Washington has given rise to a more adversarial form of organizing principles in the US-China relationship. How do notions of ‘great power rivalry’ buttress the strategic objectives of American foreign policy? How are claims of an ideological battle between Chinese authoritarianism and liberal democracy seized upon by intellectuals of all stripes in the Beltway? Ambassador Freeman will share his reflections on these matters and their bearing on US efforts to mobilize its Cold War allies vis-a-vis the China challenge to its leadership over the international order. As the Ambassador probes the futility of pursuing US-China antagonism as the defining quest of the 21st century, this conversation will also raise the possibility of reframing the Sino-American contest in terms that enable and sustain diplomacy.
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman: Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Former U.S. Diplomat in China
Ambassador Freeman is a career diplomat (retired) who was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-94, earning the highest public service awards of the Department of Defense for his roles in designing a NATO-centered post-Cold War European security system and in reestablishing defense and military relations with China. He served as U. S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the historic U.S. mediation of Namibian independence from South Africa and Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola.
Ambassador Freeman worked as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the American embassies at both Bangkok (1984-1986) and Beijing (1981-1984). He was Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. He was the principal American interpreter during the late President Nixon’s path-breaking visit to China in 1972. In addition to his Middle Eastern, African, East Asian and European diplomatic experience, he had a tour of duty in India.
Dr. Wenran Jiang: IPD Advisor, Asia Program; President of Canada-China Energy and Environment Forum
Named by the Alberta Venture magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in Alberta for 2014, Dr. Wenran Jiang is the President of Canada-China Energy and Environment Forum. He organized 13 large-scale annual conferences between Canada and China on energy and environmental issues between 2004 and 2017.
He was a tenured professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Before he took early retirement, Dr. Jiang was also a Japan Foundation Fellow, a Resident Fellow and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Special Advisor to Alberta Department of Energy on Asian market diversification. He also served as Special Advisor on China to the US and Canada based Energy Council, a visiting professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the School of Business, China University of Petroleum (Beijing). During his tenure as the Founding Director (2005-08) of the University’s China Institute, Dr. Jiang played a leading role in securing a donation of $37.2 million permanent endowment from the Alberta government.