Event Recap: Managing Strategic Mistrust

On June 3rd, the US-China Education Trust and the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding at Peking University hosted the fourth and final session of a series of closed-door webinars focusing on Trilateral Perspectives from the United States, China, and India. This session, Managing Strategic Mistrust, included three presentations from experts in the region and a moderated discussion on the future of US-China-India relations. Minister HE Yafei, Former Vice Minister of the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented on the interrelated layers of China-US and China-India relations. He proposed the importance of cooperation, mutual respect, and enhancing communication for a pathway to rebuilding strategic trust. Ambassador Shivshankar Menon, Former Foreign Secretary of India, provided insights on why China views US-India relations as a threat. He recommended that managing change and issue-based trilateral agreements can provide stability in the region. Ashley Tellis, Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, offered a perspective from D.C. and unpacked the fundamental issues that underlie the challenge of strategic mistrust. He identified the main objective as the avoidance of war, again underlining the importance of managing, not transforming, relations among the three countries.

Over 55 participants attended, coming from academia, business, government, and think tanks. In addition, undergraduate and graduate students from nine universities (American University, Duke University, George Washington University, Government Law College – Mumbai, Indian Institute of Management – Jammu, ILS Law College – Pune, Peking University, Syracuse University, and Tsinghua University) were in attendance. The discussion moderated by Ambassador Julia Bloch included strategies to avoid war and manage change, the origins of current tensions, and the impact of US military preponderance in Asia. This final session achieved the goal of bringing together great minds from three key states, fostering constructive dialogue to deepen the understanding of key regional perspectives, and paving the way for more robust cooperation in the future.


He Yafei
HE Yafei is a veteran diplomat and the Honorary Dean of the 21st Century Silk Road Research Institute at Jinan University and Distinguished Professor of the Yenching Academy at Peking University. Minister HE is a Former Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Assistant to the Foreign Minister, Director General of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, and Minister of the Chinese Embassy in the United States.

Shivshankar Menon
Shivshankar Menon is a Distinguished Fellow at CSEP and a Visiting Professor at Ashoka University. Menon served as national security advisor to the Indian Prime Minister from January 2010 to May 2014. He currently serves as chairman of the advisory board of the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi. He was also a Distinguished Fellow with Brookings India. Menon has previously served as foreign secretary of India from October 2006 to August 2009 and as ambassador and high commissioner of India to Israel (1995-1997), Sri Lanka (1997-2000), China (2000-2003) and Pakistan (2003-2006). From 2008 to 2014, he was also a member of India’s Atomic Energy Commission. A career diplomat, he also served in India’s missions to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva and the United Nations in New York.

Ashley Tellis

Ashley J. Tellis holds the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. While on assignment to the U.S. Department of State as senior adviser to the undersecretary of State for political affairs, he was intimately involved in negotiating the civil nuclear agreement with India. Previously he was commissioned into the Foreign Service and served as senior adviser to the ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. He also served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to President George W. Bush and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia. Prior to his government service, Tellis was senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and professor of policy analysis at the RAND Graduate School.


Julia Chang Bloch
Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch is the Founding President of the US-China Education Trust. She has had an extensive career in international affairs and government service, serving as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Nepal, Assistant Administrator of Food for Peace and Voluntary Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and as Assistant Administrator for Asia and the Near East at the US Agency for International Development. She also was the Chief Minority Counsel to a Senate Select Committee; a Senate professional staff member; the Deputy Director of the Office of African Affairs at the U.S. Information Agency; a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and an Associate of the U.S.-Japan Relations Program of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard.