China hearts America



29 September 2012


Sydney Opera House

As China's seemingly inexorable economic rise sees it moving towards superpower status, its relationship with the USA is shifting dramatically. From being a happily co-dependent 'Chimerica' (China saves, America spends) many scenarios point to a new state of inevitable conflict because, although both economies have changed, politics has not. But what if the reality is much more complex? As the pop-culture factory of the world, a hub of innovation and the country that attracts more migrants than all others, the US grip on the collective imagination gives it the kind of soft power that China can only dream of. The idea of America still occupies a place in the Chinese imagination that even Chinese nationalism cannot usurp. What if the greater threat lies in China and the US forming a 'special bond' - a love that is 'consummated' to the relative disadvantage of all others?

James Fallows is an author, journalist and visiting professor at various universities in the US and China, who was also White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. Geoffrey Garrett is the founding CEO of the United States Studies Centre, Professor of Political Science at the University of Sydney, and Dean of the University of Sydney Business School, plus an author and commentator. Jianying Zha is the China representative of the India China Institute and the author of two books in English, China Pop and Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China. Eric Knight has worked as an economics consultant to the OECD, the UN and the World Bank and is a celebrated author with his most current book Reframe out now. Stan Grant is an acclaimed Australian journalist who has worked on Seven News, SBS World News Australia, and CNN.

This was a Festival of Dangerous Ideas event at the Sydney Opera House.


  • James Fallows
    National Correspondent, The Atlantic

    James Fallows was the former Chair in US Media (2009-2013) and a Visiting Professor (2013-2015) at the US Studies Centre.

    He is currently the National Correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly magazine. As one of the world's leading journalists, Fallows is the author of nine books and over two hundred articles on a wide variety of topics, including US national security policy, the US Congress, Iraq, Japan, the future of print media, and the future of airline travel. Earlier in his career, Fallows served as the Chief Speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter.

  • Professor Geoffrey Garrett
    Dean, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

    Geoffrey Garrett was the founding CEO of the US Studies Centre. Garrett is Dean, Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise, and Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, he has been the Dean of the Business Schools at both the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.