President Xi Jinping has made it clear: When it comes to big data, advanced weaponry, and other innovations in tech and AI, China has plans to surpass the United States as the world’s next techonomic superpower. But between the trade war with the U.S., the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, and an array of domestic challenges, are China’s goals outpacing its capacity? Or is China building and investing in strategic partnerships that will push the country toward global dominance?
Staged in our “Unresolved” format, this debate brings together five foreign policy luminaries to tackle pressing questions, including: Will the next Silicon Valley be in China? Is the Belt and Road Initiative a trillion-dollar blunder? And will the U.S. and China both lose the trade war?
China’s tech industry, once derided and called a Silicon Valley copycat, is home to nine of the world’s 20 largest tech companies. And with powerhouse companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu; China’s growing pool of talent; and the sheer quantity and availability of data in China, some say look to the east for the future of tech and AI. But others say the hype is overblown, arguing that the idealistic and freewheeling nature of Silicon Valley can’t be duplicated, particularly within an authoritarian system that could potentially stifle innovation. Will the next Silicon Valley be in China? Or will the U.S. continue to house the world’s tech hub?
The Belt and Road Initiative – China’s ambitious infrastructure plan spanning at least 76 countries – is the biggest infrastructure investment policy in history, aiming to connect China to the rest of the world through ports, bridges, and railways. And some say it will be an incredible catalyst for growth and innovation in Eurasia, Africa, and beyond. But can China pull this off? Some argue that debt is mounting, developments are delayed, and local governments are angry, while others counter that these are merely bumps along the road. Will Xi’s "project of the century" be a major achievement for China? Or is the new Silk Road a trillion-dollar mistake?
After months of tit-for-tat tariffs, rising tensions, a high-profile arrest, and unsuccessful trade talks, the United States and China remain tied up in a heated trade dispute. Will one country come out on top? Some say China can play the long game because President Xi doesn’t have an election to worry about and China can substitute for U.S. goods, while others say China has more to lose as its economic growth reverses. Will both the U.S. and China lose the trade war, and are the real winners in Japan, Europe, and Mexico? Or will the world see a victor when these contentious trade disputes are resolved?