Unique Student-To-Student Dialogue on U.S.-China Relations Established

Tsai China Center and Tsinghua University logos

A remarkable thing happened in Yale Law School’s 2022–2023 academic year: despite a period of limited official diplomacy as U.S.-China relations deteriorated, a semester-long Dialogue on U.S.-China relations was held between 12 Yale Law School students and a similar number of Tsinghua University students in Beijing.

In a series of three full Dialogue meetings on Zoom and a variety of smaller and more informal interactions between paired subgroups of students from each school, a broad range of major issues in U.S.-China relations were addressed in detailed discussions and diplomatic-style documents prepared by the students.

The Dialogue was part of a course co-taught by Center Director Professor Paul Gewirtz and Senior Fellow Susan Thornton, not a Paul Tsai China Center activity. But the Dialogue contributed significantly to some of the major goals of the Center: to engage Yale Law School students in complex issues of U.S. foreign policy, including the U.S.-China relationship; to develop personal relationships between university students in each country to enhance mutual understanding and search for common ground; and to prepare Yale Law School students with foreign policy interests for leadership roles.

The student-to-student Dialogue would not have been possible without the parallel engagement of Professor Da Wei of Tsinghua University, one of China’s most respected international relations scholars, who worked collaboratively with Gewirtz at every stage in the planning of this unusual and valuable Dialogue.