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Kissinger on Campus (sort of) Tuesday, Oct. 18: Pollution and Ping Pong: a China Town Hall

Pollution and Ping Pong: A China Town Hall

By Kristen McDonald

For ten years, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations has hosted an annual China Town Hall, where communities across the US get together to discuss pressing issues in our country’s relationship with China. Tomorrow, Tuesday Oct. 18tChina Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections” takes place at some 80 venues across the U.S.

This year’s featured simulcast speaker is Dr. Henry Kissinger, who is credited for having helped reestablish ties with China during the Nixon “ping pong diplomacy” era. More recently, in a 2012 piece in Foreign Affairs, Kissinger advocates against aggression towards China, a position that I tend to take as a given. But that may be about all I agree with Kissinger on, given Kissinger’s other acts in Asia when he first had contact with China, including sabotaging peace efforts during the Vietnam war and carpet bombing of Cambodia.

I will also be featured as a live speaker at the event. While far less famous (or infamous) than Kissinger, I have been working on environmental issues for over ten years, and I tend to view U.S.-China relations more from a more (and sometimes literally) grassroots perspective. I help local environmental groups in China protect their communities from industrial pollution. At a time when environmental cooperation is touted as a bright spot in US China relations, I will argue that there’s a lot more that needs to be done, and that can be done, including shining a light on our own complicity in China’s environmental problems. Plus I’ll share some success stories of what communities in China are doing locally.

This “Town Hall” style event is interactive, free, and open to the public. What issues concern you most about China? What do you remember about ping pong diplomacy, and Kissinger’s role in Asia? What information or resources do you have to share about China?

Please join us at a China Town Hall, 4 pm Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 110 Knight Law Center at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Kristen McDonald is the China Program Director at Pacific Environment and a Eugene native.