As tensions between the United States and China rise over security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, some are concerned about the possibility of conflict between the world’s two largest economies. Dennis Wilder, former senior director for East Asia on the George W. Bush administration’s national security council, has witnessed many high and low points in the U.S.-China relationship over his distinguished four-decade career in the U.S. government. In this podcast with Paul Haenle, Wilder acknowledged the real and difficult challenges facing Beijing and Washington today, but expressed optimism that the two governments can manage their differences and continue to advance relations along a peaceful and constructive path.

Wilder discussed the highlights and lowlights of his China-focused public service career, including joining former President George W. Bush at the 2008 Olympics and dealing with the aftermath of the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. Looking toward the future of the U.S.-China relationship, Wilder explained that his optimism derives in part from a recognition that American and Chinese leaders will have to find ways to work together to address common global challenges if both countries are to achieve their own national objectives. He also noted that the American and Chinese people have many similarities, such as their entrepreneurialism, that could make future cooperation more likely.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Dennis Wilder

Dennis Wilder is a senior fellow with the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University. Most recently, Dennis served as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for East Asia and the Pacific, and previous to that had roles as the senior editor of the president’s Daily Brief and National Security Council special assistant to the president and director for East Asian affairs.