Guarini Institute Hosts Talk on U.S.-China Competition

On October 24, the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs, the Centro Studi Americani, and the Festival della Diplomazia hosted a joint event entitled “Sources and Prospects of U.S.-China Competition.” This event featured a greeting from Roberto Sgalla (Director of the Centro Studi Americani), followed by three talks by Robert Ross (political scientist, Boston College), Romeo Orlandi (economist and scholar on Asia and globalization), and Carmine Soprano (economist, World Bank). The event was moderated by JCU Professor Enrico Fardella.

John Cabot University Guarini Campus
A view of the Guarini Campus of John Cabot University

Robert Ross began the conversation by summarizing U.S.-Chinese relations. He stated that the two countries understand each other well, but they don’t like what the other is saying and doing. China has become an extremely powerful country, but U.S. President Joe Biden does not want to accept its rise. China doesn’t want to cooperate with Biden because it would make him look better to the rest of Europe. Ross also spoke about the capacity of both countries’ naval military force. According to his presentation, the U.S. Navy will not be able to compete with the Chinese Navy anytime within the next 20 years, so the U.S. has given up its military presence in the South China Sea. He ended his presentation by talking about domestic problems that both countries have, leading to the conclusion that neither country can afford a cold war with the other. The U.S. may have to accept China’s power because the competition between the two countries is not sustainable.

Romeo Orlandi focused on the Chinese perspective. He began his presentation by talking about how China is trying to cash in the political dividends of its economic success. China took full advantage of globalization, and the country is more powerful because of it. The U.S. has had a hand in making China more powerful, but now they are paying the price for it. Growth was the main objective of Chinese policy. Since the country has grown so powerful, they refuse to be controlled in any way. China proved that a country can grow in GDP and have a strong economy and military without democracy, which challenges many U.S. ideals. Orlandi finished his talk by pointing to the idea that tension between the U.S. and China is rising because the interests of the two countries are colliding.

Carmine Soprano ended the discussion on a more positive note. He claimed that there must be some room for cooperation between the two countries that could help in relieving some of this tension. He gave examples of areas where the two countries could put differences aside and work together, two of which were climate change and the debt crisis. Soprano raised the idea that both countries have shown a significant push for fighting the climate crisis, as both countries have already agreed to work on decreasing carbon emissions together. This is one area where the U.S. and China could find common ground to work together. Another area is the debt crisis. Soprano Claimed that we can’t fix the climate crisis until we fix the debt crisis. China is the largest creditor in the world, so the debt crisis is a very important issue in the country. Soprano acknowledged that it is in both countries’ best interest to work together on this issue. In doing so, they might strengthen their relationship. He ended the discussion by giving hope to the audience that there is some room for collaboration between the U.S. and China that may help reduce some of the tension between the two.

(Hayley Nowak)