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The US-China Treaty Project
The United States and China are engaged in the most important bilateral relationship of our era, yet the relationship remains random, fragile, and mistrustful. China’s rising influence threatens to change the global status quo, and the United States is understandably concerned. If these two giants learn how to collaborate, they could conceivably solve the world’s greatest problems. Alternatively, if they elect to contest each other at every turn, the result will be global instability and crisis. Unfortunately, the Shanghai Communiqué, which helped to open China forty years ago, is no longer sufficient as a guide; a new framework is needed. The world has grown less structured and more volatile, and the two nations are more competitive than ever. The risk of conflict is growing along with the volume of sensitive interactions. It is time for both nations to negotiate a new bargain that will guide and support the steady maturation of their high-potential, high-risk relationship. This seminar will advocate that the two nations develop a new, fifty-year treaty in the form of a strategic cooperation agreement. We will define the rationale and the case for action, draft major components of the proposed treaty, outline the pathway required for adoption, and transmit our end-product to foreign policy authorities in Washington and Beijing.
Grading will be determined by class participation and by performance across three short papers. The first paper will examine best practices in bilateral treaty development; the second will focus on critical factors in the future United States – China relationship; and, the third will require drafting of key components for the proposed treaty.