Future of US-China Economic Partnership Focus of Special Lecture with Chinese Consul

Starting from left: Consul Wu Yibo, Dr. Peter Haslund, Dr. Benjamin Cohen, Consul Ren Zifeng, Anna KwongComplexities of global economics and international partnership were themes in the Antioch University Santa Barbara MBA program’s special lecture with Consuls from the People’s Republic of China

China is the United States’ largest trading partner, a relationship valued at $580 billion in 2016, and the third largest export market after Canada and Mexico. Relations between the US and China have evolved in recent years from hostile stand-offs to a complex mix of trade partnership and intensifying rivalry. Understanding the complexities of US-China relations is one of the most valuable tools an MBA graduate can have in today’s global marketplace.

Chinese Consuls Ren Zhifang and Wu Yibo were Antioch University’s special guests for a lecture titled “The Future of US-China Relationships” held at Antioch University Santa Barbara on November 3. Hosted as part of the university’s MBA program monthly lecture series on global economics and business, the lecture delivered insight into the size and scope of the economic partnership, exploring how each is a powerful member of a global economy.

“The US and China are becoming increasingly interconnected,” said AUSB’s MBA chair, Anna Kwong. “We are honored to have the Consuls from China and local economic experts under the same roof to discuss openly and objectively about the alliance and conflicts between our two countries. I teach my students the importance of open dialogue when building foreign relations in business.”

“China-US trade is not a zero-sum game,” commented Consul Ren. “We are partners.”

Dr. Peter Haslund, Board Trustee of Santa Barbara City College, and Dr. Benjamin Cohen, Professor of Economics at UC Santa Barbara, joined Consuls Ren and Wu for a panel on trade, investment, and economic partnerships. About 80 Antioch University MBA students and community members attended.

“While the US is the incumbent superpower and China is the rising challenger,” said Dr. Cohen. “Our two countries have a lot in common. The key is to explore on ways to avoid confrontation.” Speakers discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade agreements – as well as China’s effort to promote its currency, renminbi, as the alternative to the dollar in the global financial market.

The lecture also examined the concept of Sister Cities, the belief that ordinary people on different sides of the world are capable of cooperation. The event was co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara-Weihai Sister City Association.

“We cannot afford confrontation when there are so many global issues about which we need to cooperate and work together,” said Consul Wu.

Business students from Antioch University, Santa Barbara City College, and UC Santa Barbara attended for a rare opportunity to meet with two representatives from the Chinese Consul office and the local experts.

“It was enlightening and inspiring,” commented Dan LeBarge, an MBA student at AUSB. “The Consuls provided an incredibly humanizing view into their lives and beliefs. I went home filled with hope for my children and our world.”

Antioch MBA student Anne Wells said, “We have much to think about. My thoughts on this have expanded tangibly. The world suddenly feels much smaller and interconnected.”


Antioch University Santa Barbara’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program hosts lectures on business, economics, marketing, and other topics in a monthly lecture series throughout the year. The lectures are free and open to the public, and required attendance for AUSB MBA students. For more information, contact Anna Kwong at [email protected]. Learn more about AUSB’s low-residency MBA that focuses on strategic leadership skills and social responsibility at antioch.edu/ausb-mba.

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