Last Thursday, seventy UNC Charlotte students got the unique opportunity to hear from Dr. Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Road Island.
Proficient in both Russian and Chinese, Dr. Goldstein is also very well versed in all things having to do with US–China relations and has authored and co-authored a fair share of books regarding the matter including China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force (2007), China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies (2008), China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in a Comparative Historical Context (2009), China, the US and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Partnership (2010) and Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (2011). His latest book, Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry, discusses Dr. Goldstein’s ideas on the budding tensions between the two countries as well as his ideas on how these tensions could be handled in a proactive and beneficial way – for both countries involved. While time was limited, Dr. Goldstein managed to fit a large amount of content and discussion into the conversation with the students. He urged students to understand the need for cultural understanding and education, as well as a sense of diplomacy and negotiation between the two countries.
Goldstein makes his case by urging students to take Chinese voices seriously and proposing ten “cooperation spirals” that outline step-by-step approaches for resolving the seemingly intractable problems in US-China relations. Through these Cooperation spirals, Goldstein believes that trust between the two countries will slowly begin to be built and that these incremental and reciprocal steps will gradually lead to larger and more significant compromises over time.
In addressing economic relations, Goldstein argues that economic interdependence does not preclude conflict. He pointed out that before Pearl Harbor, America was Japan’s leading trade partner and that before World War I, Europe had a large amount of economic interdependence. With this in mind, Goldstein warns of mistaking high levels of trade as an indication of lessening economic tension between the US and China.
The topic of discussion sparked many questions from the students, ranging from how Dr. Goldstein got interested in the politics of China to legitimate concerns on the threat that China could pose to the security of the United States.
“I think it’s worth asking – Do we [Americans] understand China as well as they understand us?” – Dr. Goldstein
After the discussion, many students stayed to discuss the ideas presented by Dr. Goldstein, bringing up concerns with the probability of successful negotiations between the two countries, and the multi-faceted approach suggested by Dr. Goldstein to reaching those peaceful resolutions.
Throughout the entire conversations, Dr. Goldstein could not stress enough the necessity for college students to be eager to understand the relationship between the two, as he said, “largest economies in the world”, and the need to have conversations regarding the steps that both countries must take to start to come to a mutual understanding. After seeing how involved the students were in the topic, even after the conversation had ended, I would say that he was successful in creating that dialogue that he saw to be so important.
Written by Justin Kramer, Senior, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern)