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President Wallerstein Delivers Keynote Address on U.S.-China Security Relations

Baruch College President Mitchel B. Wallerstein delivers a speech at the Global Finance Forum hosted by the Shanghai International Studies University-Baruch College Confucius Institute

SHANGHAI—The history and future of “complex interdependence” between China and the United States was the focus of a keynote address that Mitchel B. Wallerstein, PhD, president of Baruch College and a renowned expert in national security and public policy, delivered at the Global Finance Forum hosted by the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)-Baruch College Confucius Institute in June.

The subject of U.S.-Sino relations could not be more important today, as the leaders of both nations have recently engaged in a potentially disastrous trade war, Dr. Wallerstein said following the event. In his remarks, Dr. Wallerstein cited several points of tension over the past few months, including the militarization and control of the South China Sea, divergent stances on the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, and conflicts related to sensitive technology and the ownership of intellectual property.

Dr. Wallerstein began his 20-minute address by outlining the long history between the two countries, which includes periods of alliance—starting with World War II and opposition during the Korean War—and tension, such as the U.S.’s support of Taiwan following the 1953 armistice that ended hostilities on the Korean peninsula. President Richard Nixon then visited China in 1971 to expand economic relations, setting the stage for extraordinary growth of China-U.S. trade and the deepening of political relations throughout the twenty-first century.

In concluding, Dr. Wallerstein cited two U.S. political scientists, Robert Keohane, PhD, and Joseph Nye, PhD, who coined the term “complex interdependence” to describe the state of international relations 40 years ago. “In a myriad of ways, our two countries have become highly interdependent, and we both must therefore summon the vision and the creativity to settle our differences through diplomacy and negotiation. This is, in my view at least, the only way to assure a safe, stable, and prosperous future for all of our people,” he said.

President Wallerstein’s Foreign Policy Expertise

In 1993 President William J. Clinton appointed Dr. Wallerstein deputy assistant secretary of defense and counter-proliferation policy and senior defense representative for trade security policy. During his five-year tenure in the Department of Defense, he dealt with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons proliferation issues, and he helped found and subsequently co-chaired the Senior Defense Group on Proliferation at NATO. Before serving in the defense department, Dr. Wallerstein was the deputy executive officer of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering where he directed a highly acclaimed series of studies on issues pertaining to science, technology, and national security.

Dr. Wallerstein was named president of Baruch College in 2010, following appointments at other academic institutions. While leading Baruch through an era of historic growth and improvement, Dr. Wallerstein has continued to advance his own research on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons issues from an academic perspective, with particular references to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. He is widely published on that topic, including in The Washington Post and Washington Quarterly.

President Wallerstein and a delegation from Baruch were in Shanghai to advance the SISU-Baruch College Confucius Institute, which the institutions jointly launched in December 2017. The institute is an extracurricular, non-degree educational collaboration that offers Chinese language classes, cultural workshops and global finance seminars. There are about 500 Confucius Institutes in more than 130 countries and regions throughout the world.

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