CISS Talk | Former World Bank President, Former US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick at CISS Talk


On the evening of April 21, the 10th CISS Talk and the 54th TopTalk themed “Sino-American Relations in Historical Perspective” was held at Biomedical Hall, Tsinghua University. The event featured Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank and former US Deputy Secretary of State, and Da Wei, director of the Center for International Security and Strategy and professor in the Department of International Relations of Tsinghua University, who also served as the moderator. The panelists engaged in an in-depth discussion with Tsinghua students on the global landscape from a historical perspective.


Keynote lecture by Mr. Robert Zoellick

Mr. Robert Zoellick kicked off with an introduction to his book America in the World, which was published in August 2020, highlighting the significance of history in interpreting the current US-China ties. He then looked back at the bilateral relationship over the past 200 years, focusing on three coherent themes in US policy toward China: “trade interests,” “missionary impulse,” and “recognition of China as a great power.” As China plays an increasingly important role in the international arena, the two countries should work together to address global challenges by strengthening communication, fostering mutual trust, seeking common ground and overcoming their divergences, he pointed out.


Professor Da Wei as panelist and moderator

In the panel discussion, Professor Da Wei and Mr. Robert Zoellick explored the positive and negative impacts of the above three themes on US-China relations.


Presentations by “student challengers”

Then, a “challenger team” of four graduate students shared their presentations, which integrated their research interests into the topic of the event, with Mr. Robert Zoellick. Tian Lu, a graduate student of the Class of 2023 in the School of Social Sciences, discussed the unique cultural differences between China and America, and raised the question of how the two countries can build a cooperative relationship with each other. Li Yijie, also a Class of 2023 graduate student in the School of Social Sciences, took a deep dive into whether China and the US can co-exist within the same international system. Both CISS Youth members, Zhao Yuqi turned to the current mainstream social situation and free trade policies in America, and Wang Jingshu shared her perspectives on US political and economic policies from the perspective of global order.


Audience at the event

The presentations by the challengers was followed by a robust Q&A session, where Professor Robert Zoellick took questions on the content of his keynote lecture. The event was well received by the young audience. Li Yijie, a Class of 2023 graduate student in the School of Social Sciences and a member of the student challenger team, said Mr. Zoellick’s distinctive and profound insights on Sino-American relations inspired him to explore international relations in greater depth. Ding Mingyu, a Class of 2024 doctoral student in the School of Medicine, said she was impressed with the power of history in interpreting the international situation and looked forward to further reflection on the global landscape from a historical perspective.


Group photo

With support from Tsinghua University’s Center for Global Competence Development, the event was co-hosted by the University’s Center for International Security and Strategy and Graduate Union, with the Student Association of International and Strategic Studies as the organizer. 

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