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HKS Authors

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Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations

Abstract

As John Kerry takes the reins as secretary of state, no international problem will test his considerable diplomatic skills more than our difficult, complex, and unpredictable relationship with the other global superpower — China. Just how difficult was made abundantly clear on a recent trip to Beijing for a Harvard-Peking University conference on the future of US-China relations. Many of the Chinese government, academic, and business leaders I met maintain that Beijing desires a better relationship with the United States. They recognize the importance of our symbiotic trade and investment ties and respect our power. But they communicated another unmistakable message — China is intent on building its own power in every dimension — from its still-expanding economy to a new blue-water navy and state-of-the-art ballistic missile force. All this rests on a much more assertive foreign policy backed by nationalist bloggers and a population that believes China’s future as Asia’s strongest power cannot be denied.

Citation

Burns, R. Nicholas. "Kerry Must Engage China." Boston Globe, January 2013.