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IGL to host US- China symposium this weekend

Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 15:03

The Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) will this Friday kick off its fourth annual U.S.-China Relations Symposium, revamped this year and now offering two days of panels featuring speakers from around the country and the world.

Policymakers and scholars representing American, Chinese and Asian regional perspectives will speak at five panels in the Cabot Intercultural Center, each focused on China's political relationship with a different region in Asia, in particular the South China Sea region, South Asia, the Korean peninsula, Japan and Taiwan.

This year's two-day symposium is co-sponsored by the Alliance Linking Leaders in Education and the Services (ALLIES), a student group that works to promote civil-military relations, and marks an expansion from previous years, in which the panels were smaller in scale and held over a single afternoon. 

While in the past the event has largely featured local scholars, symposium organizers this year will host speakers from New York and Washington, D.C., as well as Dingli Shen, a prominent scholar in U.S.-China relations from the Fudan University in Shanghai.

Symposium Director Daniel Yoon, a senior, said more contributions from donors and increased funding from the IGL allowed for a larger budget for the symposium and its subsequent improvements.    

"In previous years, we've operated on several hundred dollars," Yoon said. "This year, we're spending nearly $8,000."

Junior Winnie Hu, the symposium's sponsorship and marketing coordinator, said the additional funds and the symposium's corresponding growth have marked a new beginning for the event

"Because it's a much bigger scale, in a way it's the first [symposium], even though it's technically the fourth," Hu said of the changes.

Ming Lin, a member of the team that organized fundraising for the symposium, was pleased to see how the event has expanded from previous years.    

"We wanted to make this conference the biggest and the best it's ever been, and we set very high goals for ourselves," Lin, a freshman, said. "To see the conference develop in contrast to what it's been like for the last three years, it's a great step forward."

Yoon, who has helped organize the symposium for the past three years, said the topic of U.S.-China relations is currently one of the most important in the field of international relations.    

"This may be the most important bilateral relationship of any two nations in the world," Yoon said. "For individuals and students here, this is an opportunity to reconsider China for the sake of the greater global economy."

Senior Han Chen, the symposium's programming coordinator, hopes the diversity of the panels' topics will foster a balanced and constructive discussion.

"We're really striving to have each of the viewpoints and angles represented," he said. "We hope these discussions don't just accuse China of being a bad national neighbor, but hold it accountable in an open and constructive light."

J. Stapleton Roy, who has served as a U.S ambassador to China, Indonesia and Singapore, will on Friday deliver the keynote address. Shen and Retired Rear Admiral Eric McVadon, who has spoken at the symposium in previous years, will close the event with an interactive "fireside chat."    

Yoon said the panels are structured to be a learning experience for attendees.

"We're hoping to provide students here and future leaders of both sides of the Pacific an opportunity to interact with and learn from current leaders and experts," Yoon said.

The event, Hu said, covers global issues that should appeal to students of all subjects, not just international relations.

"I'm an art history major," Hu said, "But I think human beings don't live in an isolated environment, and the more you're aware of, the more you can understand society and civilization in a more holistic way."

Chen hopes the networking opportunities and big ideas presented at the symposium will help further its goal to foster an interaction between generations and promote better ties between "maybe the two biggest economies in the world."    

Yoon hopes the event will encourage attendees to engage with the global community and to take steps toward making the West meet the East.

"Enhancing cooperation between these countries will be essential," he said. "We need to be partners together in the political and economic world if we want a healthy future, a healthy century."

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