On August 28, 2017, the University of Texas at Austin established a new China Public Policy Center within the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The center will place emphasis on track II diplomacy —contacts and activities between non-state actors — as a way to achieve workable solutions to contemporary policy challenges and advance US-China understanding and Texas-China relations. It will also offer a variety of lectures, courses, public advocacy, and student opportunities. This is part of a mission to expand and strengthen global engagement at University of Texas, and develop innovative China policy ideas. The center will be a resource not only for the university, but also for the business community, the city of Austin, and the state of Texas. The inaugural executive director, David Firestein, is a highly respected China expert with extensive knowledge of the language and culture, and experience in the country. A former US Foreign Service Officer, the first foreign citizen to have a column in a Chinese newspaper, and the first foreign diplomat appointed to the faculty of Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 2001, he is a former Perot Fellow and senior vice president at the EastWest Institute. His works have been published in major US, Chinese, and Russian publications.
China is of vital importance to the international community and of increasing importance to Texas. It is Texas’ third largest export market and second largest source of imports, totaling $10 billion in goods exports in 2016 and nearly $46 billion in imports in 2014. In 2015, exports to China supported 75,800 American jobs in Texas. It is the third most popular US destination for Chinese students, who contributed approximately $338 billion to the Texas economy in 2016. The state now has a total Chinese population of 105,829. It is also the third most popular place for Chinese FDI. In 2016, the Texas-China Investment Summit, a three-day event aimed at fostering friendship and business relationships, resulted in $300 million in tentative investment for local projects in Central Texas.
Rebecca Chen is a graduate student at Georgetown University and a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington.