U.S. and UN officials to attend Hong Kong forum on Sino-U.S. relations

Tung Chee-wah (left), former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus (centre) and ex-U.S. Trade Negotiator Charlene Barshefsky (right).

8th October 2023 – (Hong Kong) Top officials from both the United States and United Nations are scheduled to participate in an important forum focused on Sino-U.S. relations, which will take place in Hong Kong next month. The Hong Kong Forum on U.S.-China Relations is hosted annually by the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which was established in 2008 by Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive.

This year’s event is set to be held in-person for the first time since July 2019, after being held virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Speaking engagements are confirmed from high-level guests including former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, ex-U.S. Trade Negotiator Charlene Barshefsky, and Mogens Lykketoft, who served as President of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly.

CUSEF President James Chau commented that the forum presents “an opportunity to renew global commitments at a global point of reckoning”. He stated that whilst the U.S. and China normalised diplomatic relations 45 years ago, changing the world, relations are now characterized by “fear and suspicion rapidly replacing trust and goodwill”. Chau emphasized the need to improve cooperation, highlighting how this impacts “progress for the world’s 8 billion people”.

His remarks come amid increasing global scrutiny of relations between the superpowers. Tensions have notably escalated since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August and William Lai’s travel to the US as Taiwanese Vice President the following year. Most recently in July, Hong Kong leader John Lee appealed to the U.S. regarding its reported decision to ban him from attending the upcoming APEC summit in San Francisco, after being sanctioned in 2020 over national security law implementation.

At the One Young World Summit in Belfast earlier this month, attendees called for a “partnership for peace” between the US and China through collaboration on critical issues like climate change and public health. South African law professor Thuli Madonsela emphasized the importance of pragmatism and shared humanity in global engagement. She drew on her country’s experience with apartheid, noting how cooperation was vital when facing starvation and economic crises.

Established to foster understanding between the U.S. and China, CUSEF has worked to bring delegations together despite recent geopolitical challenges. In June, it facilitated the first visit of American college students to Hong Kong and mainland China since border closures. Next month’s forum in Hong Kong will aim to continue important discussions on strengthening relations and cooperation between the two world powers. With rising tensions and global challenges, finding common ground and renewing commitment to constructive engagement is viewed as increasingly imperative.