Bush China Foundation Brief: Generational perspectives in U.S.-China relations, part II

September 30, 2023

by: Euhwa Tran

Share this Article

The United States, in recent months, has sent numerous high-level visitors to China, starting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and several congressional delegation visits are being planned, including one led by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. Yet, these overtures have not led to any notable “thawing” in the U.S.-China relationship and, ironically, have further inflamed tensions to some degree in light of the lack of reciprocity in return visits by Chinese officials to the United States.

Despite these diplomatic quibbles, the two nations remain highly interconnected, and their relationship continues to have an outsized impact on each country domestically and globally. Despite this reality, the critical issues impacting the relationship are too often portrayed as simply black or white, without consideration of the nuances surrounding each matter and the wide range of perspectives in both countries. Given the incredible complexities of the bilateral relationship, it is essential to create opportunities for new conversations on long-standing disagreements and more recently emerging issues to better manage the challenges facing both countries today and in future years.

To meet this need, the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations (Bush China Foundation) launched the U.S.-China XGen (cross-generation) Initiative in the fall of 2022 to broaden the discourse and to highlight differences and similarities in generational perspectives on issues impacting the relationship. The project engages Americans and Chinese of varying ages and brings members of “Generation Z”—those between ages 18 and 25—into dialogue on an equal footing with more senior experts representing the Millennial, Generation X and Boomer generations. The yearlong initiative culminated in August with an in-person track 2 dialogue in Washington, DC focused on Taiwan, climate change and the overall bilateral relationship. Key conclusions from the two days of discussions are highlighted in this report.