In the heart of Hong Kong, a unique forum seeks to set the stage for optimism in the realm of international relations. The Hong Kong Forum on US-China Relations, a two-day gathering, aspires to sculpt a constructive atmosphere in the lead-up to the prestigious Apec summit in San Francisco. With an impressive lineup featuring video addresses by esteemed diplomats, political leaders, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates, this forum stands as a beacon of diplomatic hope.
James Chau, the President of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, underlines the deliberate timing of this event, closely aligning it with the Apec summit. “The [forum’s] timing was deliberate, so that we could help craft a tone, hopefully an optimistic one … before Apec begins,” Chau elaborates.
What to Expect
Anticipation runs high for a meeting between the leaders of the United States and China during the upcoming Apec summit. President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping are set to engage in critical discussions on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, scheduled for November 15 in San Francisco.
Notably, Hong Kong’s participation in the summit will be marked by the presence of Finance Chief Paul Chan Mo-po. City leader John Lee Ka-chiu, owing to prior commitments, won’t be attending.
The forum’s deliberations are unafraid to confront ongoing challenges, including a proposal by US lawmakers to impose sanctions on 49 city officials, judges, and prosecutors for their role in enforcing the Beijing-imposed national security law.
Co-organizer James Chau views these challenges as emblematic of a “very difficult relationship” that has unfolded over the past few years. Such complexities underscore the vital role that forums like this play in fostering communication.
Eminent speakers include diplomats such as the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Xie Feng, and his American counterpart, Nicholas Burns. Alongside them will be notable figures like former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Bhokin Bhalakula, former Foreign Secretary of India Shyam Saran, former US Ambassador to China Max Baucus, former US trade negotiator Charlene Barshefsky, and President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft.
The forum serves as a platform to acknowledge the evolving dynamics in the US-China relationship. It harnesses newfound optimism to propel dialogue and collaboration. Established by Hong Kong’s inaugural Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in 2008, the forum is committed to identifying common interests between Beijing and Washington.
In a recent shift of leadership, John Zhao was named Chairman of the foundation, succeeding Tung Chee-hwa, who now holds the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus. This year’s forum marks a return to a fully physical format, a testament to its resilience amid challenging times.