Toward a Worker-Centered China policy: How to Make U.S.-China Trade Help Americans and the World

The Trump administration’s trade war with China has cost American workers at least 245,000 jobs, cost American consumers tens of billions of dollars for increased prices on consumer goods, and cost American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars to fund aid to farmers harmed by retaliatory tariffs. Efforts over the past year by Trump administration officials to sanction a wide range of Chinese companies and choke off Chinese travel and student visas to the United States have further undermined U.S.-China economic and cultural exchange. This hostile confrontation has contributed to an overall shift toward more adversarial U.S. relations with China. President Biden and several of his top advisers have criticized the U.S.-China trade war as ineffective and harmful, stating that they will instead promote a “worker-centered” trade policy. But it remains unclear precisely how this will translate to U.S. economic policy toward China. Building on the recommendations in a recent Quincy Institute report on a more effective U.S. strategy in East Asia, this event will bring together representatives from the progressive labor community and the business community to discuss ideas for how the United States can develop a better trade policy toward China that will help average American workers and consumers, while also promoting a more constructive overall U.S.-China relationship that bolsters global peace and prosperity instead of undermining it. The discussion will feature Rachel Esplin Odell, research fellow at the Quincy Institute; Anna Ashton, vice president of government affairs at the U.S.-China Business Council; and Jake Werner, research fellow at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center. Graham Webster, research scholar at DigiChina, will moderate.


Rachel Esplin Odell

Rachel Esplin Odell is a Research Fellow in the East Asia Program at the Quincy Institute and an expert in U.S. strategy toward Asia, Chinese foreign policy, and maritime disputes. She was an International Security Fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School from 2019 to 2020. She received her PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her dissertation studied the politics of how countries interpret the international law of the sea. Her research on the relationship between maritime power and international law received the Alexander George Award from the Foreign Policy Analysis Section of the International Studies Association. She holds an AB summa cum laude in East Asian Studies with a secondary field in Government from Harvard University and has advanced proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

Anna Ashton

Anna has led the U.S.-China Business Council’s government affairs team since August 2019, developing and implementing U.S. advocacy on behalf of member companies. She previously served as the director of business advisory services, leading staff across USCBC’s three offices in providing member companies with analysis of China’s commercial policies, business operating environment, and best practices. She began her career as an intelligence officer for the Department of Defense, where she prepared intelligence briefings for the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and top military officials on strategic China issues. She worked as an economic and trade analyst at the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission while pursuing a JD at Georgetown University. She holds a BA in Chinese Studies from Wellesley College, and an MA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Jake Werner

Jake Werner is a Post-Doctoral Global China Research Fellow at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center (GDP Center). He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago, after which he taught social theory and Chinese history as a Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the University of Chicago Society of Fellows. At the GDP Center, Jake researches the emergence of the great power conflict between the US and China following the 2008 financial crisis and explores how new strategies for global development could resolve those tensions. He is co-founder of Justice is Global and his writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Nation, and Made in China.

Graham Webster (Moderator)

Graham Webster is a research scholar and editor in chief of the DigiChina Project at the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center and a China digital economy fellow at New America. Based at Stanford, he leads an inter-organization network of specialists to produce analysis and translation on China’s digital policy developments. From 2012 to 2017, Webster worked for Yale Law School as a senior fellow and lecturer responsible for the Paul Tsai China Center’s Track 2 dialogues between the United States and China. Webster holds a B.S. in journalism and international studies from Northwestern University and an A.M. in East Asian studies from Harvard University.