WASHINGTON, July 28—While the United States and China—the world’s two largest economies—are becoming increasingly interdependent, there is a growing risk of misunderstanding or even clashes. In a new paper, Taiya Smith says the two powers need a dialogue to provide strategic vision to their relationship.

Smith, who managed the U.S.–China Strategic Economic Dialogue for Treasury Secretary Paulson, draws on examples from her experience to analyze the recent history of strategic dialogues and recommends steps Washington and Beijing should take to improve the broader bilateral relationship.

Recommendations for policy makers to effectively benefit from the dialogue:

  • Understand the purpose of strategic talks: The strategic relationship should not be overshadowed by today’s news and short-term bilateral issues.
  • Ensure effective communication: Strong personal relationships between the leaders of the dialogue and their representatives are critical for building trust.
  • Leverage the wider benefits: Discussions and enhanced ties should create new ways to fix key problems outside bureaucratic norms.

“What the U.S.–China relationship needs is a truly strategic discussion to steer a critically important, yet increasingly complex, bilateral relationship while still managing the time-sensitive issues of the day,” writes Smith.



  • Click here to read the paper online

  • Taiya Smith is a senior adviser at the United Nations Foundation and former senior associate in the Carnegie Energy and Climate Program and Carnegie Asia Program. Smith served as a member of Secretary Hank Paulson’s senior management team from 2006 to 2009 as the deputy chief of staff and executive secretary for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • The Carnegie Energy and Climate Program aims to provide leadership in global energy and climate policy. The Program integrates thinking on energy technology, environmental science, and political economy to reduce risks stemming from global change and competition for scarce resources.
  • The Carnegie Asia Program in Beijing and Washington provides clear and precise analysis to policy makers on the complex economic, security, and political developments in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy is a joint U.S.–China research center based at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. The Center brings together senior scholars and experts from the United States and China for collaborative research on common global challenges that face the United States and China.