Conference Highlights Need for US-China Collaboration

Panel at economic forum discusses climate change, financial technology as key areas of mutual interest.

November 19, 2021

| by Margaret Steen
An illustration showing the US Flag and the Chinese flag intersecting. | Credit: iStock/simon2579

Scholars and business leaders say U.S.-China collaboration is important. | iStock/simon2579

From regulating crypto to arresting the effects of climate change, an international panel of scholars and business leaders examined ways the United States and China can work together in a webinar hosted by Stanford University.

The 2021 China Economic Forum, conducted online on November 12, featured discussions on sustainability and finance, “to advance dialogue and collaboration between Stanford and our partners in China,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in remarks prior to the conference.

“The last year and a half has highlighted for everyone the increasing level of global interdependence, whether it is health, supply chains, finance, the need for cooperation — especially between the U.S. and China — as we contend with the effects of climate change and the need for new and sustainable sources of energy,” said Jonathan Levin, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The forum’s first panel, moderated by Yi Cui, director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford, discussed energy-related work being done at Stanford and in China to fight climate change, as well as the growing adoption of Gross Ecosystem Product, or GEP, as a new means of assessing performance in addition to GDP. “This is much more than just a metric,” said Gretchen Daily, professor of environmental science and director of the Stanford Natural Capital Project. “It‘s a whole new language about the values of nature and human dependence and impacts on nature and this very systematic framework and approach for transforming financial systems.”

Fuqiang Yang, senior advisor of climate change at the Institute of Energy at Peking University, discussed China’s use of coal, especially in manufacturing, as a target for improving reductions in greenhouse gases.

Darrell Duffie, professor of finance at the GSB, led a forum on a range of topics related to finance and technology. Duffie asked panelist Fan Bao, chairman and CEO of China Renaissance, how serious current U.S.-China tensions are for the financial services industry. Bao noted that the link between the two countries’ capital markets has historically been strong, though it has been put to the test.

“I think there is always this risk of so-called financial decoupling,” Bao said. Still, “it is not really in China‘s interest to enter into a financial decoupling scenario. Foreign capital is still crucially important to China’s development.”

Sigal Mandelker, general partner of Ribbit Capital, discussed the differing approaches the U.S. and Chinese governments have taken to regulating fintech and crypto products. She said that while the Chinese government exerts a lot of control over the technology, regulators in the United States are still determining how to proceed. “I think many regulators are still very much in the very early stages of even understanding what these new technologies are, what they do, and what the positive aspects of them can be,” Mandelker says.

“In my view, many of our laws are actually not fit for purpose for this fundamentally new technology,” she added. “You can regulate in a way that’s tailor-made to the new technology, and I think ultimately that’s a far better path.”

David Ye, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Rong360 Jianpu Technology, spoke about the formation of new trade partnerships, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Ye noted that RCEP covers about half of the world’s population, and in the coming decades its member countries are expected to contribute about two-thirds of the growth of the world economy.

“If you’re looking into building a global brand, you cannot just simply ignore RCEP,” Ye said.

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