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Personal exchanges cited as key for bilateral ties

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | | Updated: 2023-10-26 11:17
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NBA Hall of Fame legends Tracy McGrady and Chinese Basketball Association President Yao Ming speak at the annual Gala Dinner of the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) in New York on Tuesday. MINLU ZHANG / CHINA DAILY

While there has been some thawing in diplomatic relations between the US and China, it is the people-to-people exchanges that remain crucial, the president of a major US-China organization said on Wednesday.

Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSR), said "what we're seeing now is some breakthroughs in the government-to-government relationship. But what we need to do is make sure the people-to-people foundation for that exists."

Orlins spoke at a news conference at the Chinese Consulate General in New York, where experts and scholars shared their insights and perspectives on strengthening people-to-people relations between the United States and China.

The "US-China People's Dialogue" news conference was co-organized by Tsinghua University and the NCUSR.

"We need the people-to-people relationship to strengthen in order to put a foundation under the political relationship," said Orlins, who said that such relations have remained sound.

Basketball legend Yao Ming, the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, said at the news conference that the sport serves as a gateway for cultural exchange, and that there is room for further international games and player exchanges between the US and China.

Yao starred for the Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in the US. He expressed a desire for more young individuals to have similar exchange opportunities in the future.

Zhu Min, vice-chairman of the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, who is also an envoy for the Sino-UK Professional and Financial Service for the Belt and Road Initiative, pointed out several key challenges and changes in China's economic landscape.

He emphasized the need for structural change due to the ineffectiveness of previous growth engines, such as infrastructure investments and the real estate sector.

"These changes in the supply chain and demand require us to rethink how to shift demand from international markets to the domestic market," he said. "While these three factors remain important, they are no longer the primary growth engines. So, in this new landscape, what do we do? We need to find new growth engines," Zhu said.

Such new growth engines should focus on three key areas: placing more emphasis on domestic consumption, strengthening Chinese manufacturing, and working toward carbon neutrality, he said.

When asked about the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence (AI), Xue Lan, a distinguished professor of arts, humanities and social sciences and the dean of Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, noted that the Chinese and American academic communities have had significant collaborations on AI research.

There are many similarities between the concerns of the United States and those of China, Xue said. While there may appear to be differences, especially over specific regulatory policies, the fundamental or underlying principles and concerns are essentially the same for both countries, Xue said.

Xue said that many current concerns are focused on the semiconductor industry.

In the long run, the US restrictions on chip exports to China will limit the overall development of the global AI industry, and perhaps also be counterproductive to the American AI industry, he said, adding that the two nations have many similarities in the development of artificial intelligence.

"China and other countries should really work together so that risks can be mitigated," Xue said.

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