2022 Fall General Interest Meeting

As another school year begins, SURGE is delighted to welcome newcomers and returning members to our General Interest Meeting next Monday, Sept 19th, at 7PM in the Campus Center room 220. We invite anybody who is vaguely curious about SURGE to come say hello and check out what we have planned for the semester. Any backgrounds, majors and experiences welcome!! See you there!

2022 Annual China-US Symposium

Welcome to the 14th Annual China-U.S. Symposium. This two-day academic conference is held every spring at Tufts. Our goal is to foster academic understanding of China and cultivate cooperation between students and experts from different backgrounds and cultures. We wish to create a unique crossroads of ideas, experiences, and people that characterize Tufts University to promote an atmosphere of deep analysis and critical awareness.

This year’s theme is “Containment and Engagement”. China and the US have clashed on nearly every front: from technology, environmental policies, human rights, security, and media censorship. The Biden administration has made it clear its intention to pursue strategic competition with China. Yet at the same time, opportunities for engagement and cooperation exist. There are many areas where the two superpowers must cooperate for the interests of the global community: the global health crisis and climate change, to name some. We hope that this symposium will provide a platform for all to consider and better understand these issues and the future of Sino-US relations.

In case you missed it, here is where you can rewatch our recorded keynote lecture by Brian Wong, who is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Oxford’s Political Review.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXJTeuiOOtE

Here is the link to the program pamphlet!

Discussion with Rasheed Griffith on China’s Influence in the Caribbean

One of the most overlooked regional relationships in the study of international relations is the one between China and the Caribbean. And this gap in the scholarship is further widened as the relationship is rising in international significance. To address this gap, on March 2nd, 2021, Tufts SURGE invited Rasheed Griffith to talk more about his research on the future social and economic consequences of this growing multilateral relationship between China and the Caribbean.

Mr. Griffith is the Head of Operations at Tokamak AI, the Director of the Caribbean-ASEAN Council, the host of the ‘China in the Caribbean’ Podcast, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Future Forum.

Mr. Griffith reported that China has begun expanding its influence into areas outside of the Sinosphere. China has not only started to invest more in Caribbean companies, but it has also begun donating security equipment to their militaries. For example, in the past fifteen years, China has lent Jamaica alone around $2.1 billion to help improve its infrastructure and production of exported goods like sugar.

Furthermore, because of the recent onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, China has had the opportunity to deepen these relationships. For instance, China has gifted large quantities of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to Caribbean countries, and it has also promised to loan money to Latin American and Caribbean countries so that they have the ability to purchase and distribute large amounts of Covid-19 vaccine once it is more readily available for purchase.

This is significant to Washington because it represents how Beijing is beginning to challenge America’s hegemony in global influence. Similar to the way in which the United States sought allyship with countries inside of the Sinosphere after World War II—including Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan—this new interest in Caribbean politics could also signify that Beijing considers engaging in military conflict with the United States to be an event worthy of preparation due to the Caribbean’s close proximity to America.

Ultimately, China’s newfound interest in the Caribbean symbolizes how it is trying to redefine its relationships with other countries and expand its influence. It remains to be seen how the potential political realignment would impact American interests, most of the countries in the Caribbean would prefer to strive toward a path of political neutrality. As such, Mr. Griffith believes the United States should not worry too much about how China is choosing to become more politically involved in the Caribbean at the moment, but he advocates closer monitoring of the situations, specifically any future relationships they form.

Nicholas Szechenyi Presentation

By: Edbert Jao

In August of 2020, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo suddenly announced his resignation due to health concerns. Especially given Abe having successfully pushed for a reinterpretation of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese conclusion, his yet-standing proposal to directly revise it, and an ambitious economic reform agenda colloquially called “Abenomics,” Abe’s resignation may have significant geopolitical implications. Following his announcement, pundits across the world debated what would happen to Japan’s foreign policy after Abe’s unexpected departure.

To allow Tufts University students to hear an expert perspective on this issue, on Tuesday, November 17, Sino-US Relations Group Engagement hosted Nicholas Szechenyi from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to share his insights on the direction of Japanese foreign policy. Deputy Director of the Japan Chair and Senior Fellow at the CSIS and with extensive previous international relations experience relevant to Japanese policy, Szechenyi delivered his lecture and answered questions from the audience.

According to Szechenyi, interim Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has indicated an intent to continue Abe’s foreign policy. The three key arrows of Abenomics – monetary easing, fiscal stimulus via government spending, and structural reform – and Japan’s increasingly active security operations will not change. Japan will continue engagement with other countries where interests align. With Taiwan, the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the United States, Australia, and others, Japan will cooperate on maritime freedom and trade. To thisend, Prime Minister Suga embarked to Vietnam and Indonesia for his first official travel in October 2020.

Critically, Szechenyi noted that Prime Minister Suga holds office until September 2021, when the next elections are due. Until then, the interim government under Prime Minister Suga will provide continuity. Whether or not Japanese foreign policy undergoes substantial shifts may very well be decided by the elections of September 2021.

For Nicholas Szechenyi’s time and knowledge, Sino-US Relations Group Engagement and the audience are grateful.

Mr. Nicholas Szechenyi is Deputy Director of the Japan Chair and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the most prestigious foreign policy think tanks in the US. His research focuses on U.S.-Japan relations and U.S.-East Asia relations. In 2009, he was selected as an inaugural fellow of the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future program established by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Prior to joining CSIS in 2005, he was a news producer for Fuji Television in Washington, D.C., where he covered U.S. policy in Asia and domestic politics

Book Talk with Professor Rana Mitter: “China’s Good War”

By: Megan Starses

Since the turn of the century, China has grown increasingly more interested in redefining its post-World War II role to reshape both its domestic and international policy. On October 27th, Tufts SURGE had the honor of inviting Rana Mitter, a University of Oxford professor, for a discussion about his new book, China’s Good War, at our annual Book Talk. According to Professor Mitter, even though almost 100 million Chinese citizens became refugees in their own country and an estimated 15-20 million Chinese were killed either through combat or starvation during World War II, China’s participation in the war is not very well known around the world.

The reason for this is because when Mao Zedong assumed the position of chairman of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, he was hesitant to admit that the Nationalist Party (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-shek, contributed in any way to fighting off their common enemy—the Japanese regime. However, after Chiang and Mao died in the mid-1970s, the Chinese government was more inclined to reexamine the KMT’s role and accomplishments during World War II in accordance with the combined efforts of both the Nationalist and the Communist Party. Among these achievements were the augmentation of the Chinese role in the Allied Powers, China’s pride in being one of the founding members of the UN, and its current role as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. As such, these sentiments have allowed Communist China to bolster itself and assert its place as a key player in the realm of international relations.

However, it is essential to note that this reassessment of World War II is not only central to redefining China’s role in the international sphere, as it has also significantly affected the domestic sphere as well. Even though many Chinese netizens have often mocked the Communist Party’s attempt to portray its role in World War II as more significant than it truly was, a portion of the Chinese general public is actually beginning to buy into this narrative told by the Communist Party to an extent, as seen by a few newly produced, popular movies set during World War II. Thus, this newfound focus on World War II has allowed the Chinese government not only to foster a new sense of nationalism among the Chinese general public, but also strengthen its own popular support.

In fact, in the age of COVID-19, Professor Mitter even stated that the Chinese Communist Party is using the same rhetoric of claiming victory over Japan in World War II and applying it to their desire to “defeat” the coronavirus. As such, this demonstrates the scale at which the Communist Party has utilized World War II to unify the Chinese people and forge a new sense of nationalism among the citizens. To put it simply, in the words of Professor Mitter, “World War II is not just history for China, but an aspect of incredibly current affairs.”

Paul Huang, Taiwanese Defense Journalist Presentation

On September 17, Tufts SURGE held their second GIM via Zoom and invited Paul Huang, a Taiwanese defense journalist who conducts research on China’s military and global influence operations, to speak about Taiwan’s unpreparedness for war with China. For the first half of the meeting, Huang gave a presentation about his article “Taiwan’s Military Has Flashy American Weapons but No Ammo,” which was promptly followed by a thirty-minute Q & A session.

He claimed that in the event China and Taiwan do go to war, Taiwan would be grossly underprepared due to its severe shortage of soldiers and lack of a functional reserve system. In fact, he even asserted that the addition of American weapons would only exacerbate, rather than quell, the problems Taiwan’s military is already facing.

To read his article in its entirety, click the link below! Also, be sure to follow our facebook page to stay up to date on our future events and guest speakers!


Professor Emma Teng Book Talk

On Saturday November 2, from 12:00 – 13:15 at the Crane Room in Paige Hall,
SURGE has the honor of hosting MIT Professor Emma J. Teng’s for our Fall book talk. She will present on and about the topics within her book titled “Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong,” after which a discussion will be held.

A link to the event on Facebook can be found here:

In the context of the Gold Rush, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the Asian Exclusion Acts, come join us in learning about and discussing the experiences of those identifying as Asian American in the United States in comparison with the experiences of those of more mainstream identities and the experiences of those who live on the other side of the Pacific in mainland China and Hong Kong.

2019 China-US Symposium: New Frontiers

This year, the China-US Symposium will take place from April 12th to 13th. The theme of this year’s symposium is “New Frontiers”, dealing with how the US and China can navigate uncertain futures of the world.

Check out the descriptions of the panels and lectures.

Follow our Facebook page for more timely updates.

The China­-US Symposium is an annual event held at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, MA, organized by Tufts undergraduates. Its goal is to foster positive relations between China and the United States, cultivating cooperation and understanding between students and experts from different backgrounds and cultures. Last year alone, we hosted eighteen experts and scholars from around the world.

Friday, April 12 Crane Room (Room 113), Paige Hall, 12 Upper Campus Road, Medford, Mass.

Saturday, April 13 Fletcher School, Mugar Hall Room 200, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, Mass.

Full map available at http://campusmaps.tufts.edu/medford/

Professor Michael Beckley Book Talk

“The United States has been the world’s dominant power for more than a century. Now many analysts believe that other countries are rising and the United States is in decline. Is the unipolar moment over? Is America finished as a superpower?”

(Excerpt drawn from: http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?gcoi=80140107107650)

SURGE is pleased to co-host its faculty advisor, Prof. Michael Beckley with the Tufts International Relations Program, for its second fall speaker event of the semester. Prof. Beckley will be speaking about major themes in his new book, “Unrivaled” that was recently published in September 2018. Come join us for an unrivaled night of learning!

Richard Samuels on Sino-Japanese Relations: SURGE Fall Speaker

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Sino-Japanese Peace and Friendship. On this special occasion, Tufts Sino-U.S. Relations Group Engagement (SURGE) cordially invite you and your organization to our Fall Speaker series to review the Sino-Japanese relationship and its profound implications on the international order.

We are honored to have Professor Richard Samuels as our speaker this fall. Professor Samuels is a Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at MIT. He has been head of the MIT Political Science Department, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Japan of the National Research Council, and chair of the Japan-US Friendship Commission. He has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was awarded an Imperial decoration by the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister. His articles and studies have been published in a wide range of academic journals. His books on Japanese foreign policy, the 2011 Tohoku catastrophe, and Machiavelli have won him a wide range of prestigious awards.

The event will be held at 8:00 p.m. on October 18th at Mugar 200. There will be snacks and refreshments provided before the event. Feel free to email us at yuan.chee@tufts.edu or yicheng.zhang@tufts.edu for any questions about this event.

Tufts SURGE is a student-run organization at Tufts University. Our goal is to foster positive relations between China and the United States, cultivating cooperation and understanding between students and experts from different backgrounds and cultures. We organize a speaker event every fall semester and a symposium each spring. In the past years, we’ve had a variety of speakers including the Ambassador of Singapore to the U.S. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, former President Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to South Korea Victor Cha, as well as former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Anson Chan.

For those interested, following are the full text of the treaty and a Chinese newspaper article (in English) on its background: https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/china/treaty78.html