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The States of U.S.-China Relations: Predicaments and Prospects for Subnational Engagement

Between the 1980s and the 2010s, U.S. state and local governments engaged widely with Chinese official counterparts to promote economic ties, cultural exchange, and educational and scientific cooperation. Since 2017, however, subnational engagement has faced mounting obstacles and new risks amid the deterioration of national-level U.S.-China relations and the disruptions of Covid-19. My research as a Wilson China Fellow uses comparative case studies of subnational US-China relations in Indiana, Illinois, California, and Florida to assess how and why US-China subnational engagement patterns have changed amid the upheaval of the past five years; explore how subnational officials in the U.S. and China view the parameters and prospects for continued engagement; and develop recommendations for U.S. policymakers to help guide subnational interaction in the coming five years. The project also aims to contribute to broader debates about the promise and pitfalls of subnational diplomacy as a moderating force in great power relations.

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Kyle Jaros

Kyle A. Jaros is associate professor of global affairs in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also a faculty fellow of the Keough School’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and the Pulte Institute for Global Development. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Jaros’s research explores the politics of regional development, central-local relations, urban governance, and subnational foreign affairs with a focus on China. His first book, China’s Urban Champions: The Politics of Spatial Development (Princeton University Press, 2019) examines the policy logics and political factors driving uneven development in China’s provinces. His research has also appeared in leading China studies and social science journals such as The China Journal, The China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, Politics & Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, and Urban Affairs Review. Jaros is a current fellow of the National Committee on US-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program (2021-23).