Can China and the U.S. Coexist Productively? A Conversation with Kevin Rudd

Please join us for a virtual discussion between Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and now-President of Asia Society, and Michael D. Swaine, Director of the East Asia Program at the Quincy Institute. While the Russia-Western confrontation over Ukraine currently dominates the headlines, the Sino-U.S. relationship remains the most consequential long-term great power relationship in the world. How Beijing and Washington engage one another strategically, politically, and economically will have an enormous impact on peace and prosperity across the globe. Unfortunately, both capitals are steadily moving toward an adversarial, zero-sum relationship that bodes ill for the future. It is no longer inconceivable to contemplate a military conflict between the two superpowers.  How can this disastrous outcome be avoided? Kevin Rudd is extremely well qualified to offer an answer. He has deep, pragmatic experience and scholarly knowledge of China and its relations with the United States, Australia, and other nations. In his recent book The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jingping’s China, he argues that it is possible for Beijing and Washington to coexist and prosper through a process of “managed strategic competition.” Rudd and Swaine will discuss his analysis and recommendations in support of that process.


Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd became president and CEO of Asia Society in January 2021 and has been president of the Asia Society Policy Institute since January 2015. He served as Australia's 26th Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, then as Foreign Minister from 2010 to 2012, before returning as Prime Minister in 2013. As Prime Minister, Rudd led Australia's response during the Global Financial Crisis. Australia's fiscal response to the crisis was reviewed by the IMF as the most effective stimulus strategy of all member states. Rudd is also internationally recognized as one of the founders of the G20, which drove the global response to the crisis and in 2009 helped prevent the crisis from spiraling into a second global depression. As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Rudd was active in global and regional foreign policy leadership. He was a driving force in expanding the East Asia Summit (EAS) to include both the U.S. and Russia in 2010. On climate change, Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and legislated in 2008 for a mandatory 20 percent renewable energy target for Australia. Rudd is Chair of the Board of the International Peace Institute and a member of the IMF Managing Director’s External Advisory Group and the Global Leadership Council for Sanitation and Water for All. Rudd is proficient in Mandarin Chinese. He remains actively engaged in indigenous reconciliation.

Michael D. Swaine

Michael D. Swaine, director of QI’s East Asia program, is one of the most prominent American scholars of Chinese security studies. He comes to QI from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he worked for nearly twenty years as a senior fellow specializing in Chinese defense and foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian international relations. Swaine has authored and edited more than a dozen books and monographs, including Remaining Aligned on the Challenges Facing Taiwan (with Ryo Sahashi; 2019), Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment (with Nicholas Eberstadt et al; 2015) and many journal articles and book chapters. Swaine received his doctorate in government from Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University.