2024 Harvard Kennedy School China Conference


Harvard Kennedy School China Conference was held on April 21-22 at Harvard’s main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This year’s conference explored the theme of rebuilding trust in turbulent times, focusing on areas of dispute and collaboration such as the global governance of artificial intelligence, semiconductors and geopolitics, and relations between China and Southeast Asia.

The China Conference is an annual, student-led event and this is the fifth edition. This year, it included two keynote speeches on U.S.-China relations and global macroeconomics, as well as two days of specialized panel discussions.

The conference featured eminent speakers including Ambassador Xie Feng, China’s top envoy in Washington, D.C, Professor Graham Allison, the renowned American scholar who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration, and others.

The conference opening featured Ambassador Xie, Professor Allison, and Dr. Xue Lan, Dean of Tsinghua’s Schwarzman College, who collectively called for improved relations 45 years after January 1979, when U.S. President Jimmy Carter and China’s leader Deng Xiaoping made history by normalizing relations.

President of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), James Chau,  made congratulatory remarks at the opening.  Speaking from Hong Kong, Mr. Chau noted the symbolism of the China Conference taking place inside the Harvard Kennedy School’s John F. Kennedy Forum and the need — 61 years after his death — to invoke the former president’s legacy to win the hearts and minds “not only of the American and Chinese people, but people everywhere.”

“Clearly, when we look at the bilateral relationship, we have arrived at a point of inflection and opportunity,” said Mr. Chau.

Other high-level speakers from the world’s leading economies include: Susan Thornton, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Professor Tony Saich, faculty chair of Harvard’s China programs who first visited the East Asian country as a student in 1976; and Gita Wirjawan, Chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board and former Minister of Trade.