2014 American Association for Chinese Studies (AACS) Conference Recap
I gave an oral presentation entitled “Reassert Control over the Resource Market for Strategic Power: Evidence from China’s Rare Earth Industry” at the 2014 American Association for Chinese Studies Annual Conference. This post is a reflection of my AACS conference experience.
The American Association for Chinese Studies was founded in 1959 and is perhaps the oldest academic society in America devoted exclusively to the general field of Chinese studies. One of its funding donors is the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCKF), thus it is not surprising that the conference has a strong presence of scholars who focus on Taiwan and cross-strait relations.
This year, the annual conference was held at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. on October 10-12, 2014 (full conference program). The panels on Friday, October 10th were in conjunction with one of the Elliott School’s own biannual Taiwan conferences, with two special Taiwan-related panels (Taiwan conference). As 2014 marks the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), panels on Friday were related to the TRA’s creation, impact, and legacy, as well as Taiwan’s role in international trade and trade regimes.
Panels on Saturday and Sunday covered a wide range of topics related to China in diverse fields such as sociology, business, political science, media, literature and healthcare. I gave my presentation as part of a panel which had three individual papers on China’s economy. Dr. Dennis Wei (pictured on the left in the photo), a renowned scholar presented his research on the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) networks in innovation and manufacturing production in China. I found Dr. Wei’s analysis of regional disparity in production network within China very insightful. Dr. Hong-Jen Lin from CUNY Brooklyn College (pictured on the right), an expert scholar on banking, presented his research on the integration of commercial banking between Taiwan and mainland China, a highly interesting topic in cross-strait relations as the two economies become more and more integrated. Our chair and discussant (not shown in the picture below) is Dr. Peter Chow, long-time organizer of AACS and an established scholar on Chinese economy, who gave detailed comments on our papers.
We had our Saturday luncheon and dinner at a large reception room on the top floor of the Elliott School, which has a patio and a great view of the downtown D.C. area. The President of the CCKF, Prof. Chu Yun-han delivered a speech at the Saturday lunch, focusing on Taiwan’s soft power. In his speech Prof. Chu cited many interesting examples of Taiwan’s soft power and its influence on mainland China, including Taiwanese singers’ success in the mainland TV and reality shows, Taiwanese architects’ work in mainland China and other parts of the world, and popular Taiwanese cuisines, cultural shows and religious ceremonies commemorating their heritage. Chu argued that such soft power provided space for Taiwan to demonstrate its “uniqueness” in international relations, and the appeal of its political values (democracy, free speech, etc.). At the Saturday dinner, the President of the AACS, Prof. Vincent Wang of the University of Richmond, led a brief commemoration of Mr. David Dean, former Chairman of the Board of the American Institute of Taiwan and Director of the AIT Office in Taipei.
It’s such a pleasant experience to be back for a brief visit to the GW after my summer fellowship in 2012. I met with my past mentor Dr. Bruce Dickson at the Elliott School, and also reunited with some old friends from other schools. The conference also provided me with a refreshing experience of seeing China from the “cross-strait” lense. After all, although mainland China and Taiwan are divided politically and geographically, we all have a genuine common interest in studying and learning our shared heritage from each other.