U.S. and Chinese entrepreneurs and officials have gathered to discuss local-level collaboration and exchanges for the benefit of the two countries.
The first U.S.-China Policy Hackathon was held on Wednesday in Austin, the capital city of U.S. state of Texas. More than 20 American and Chinese entrepreneurs, business leaders and policy makers brainstormed suggestions for U.S. cities and states to create a sustainable environment to cooperate with China.
The event was co-hosted by the China Public Policy Center (CPPC) at the University of Texas at Austin, U.S.-China Innovation Alliance (UCIA) and the Capital Factory, a center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas.
At the hackathon, participants were divided into three groups, and each group was intentionally mixed with both American and Chinese entrepreneurs. Two senior advisors familiar with U.S. and China policies acted as mentors, providing suggestions and instructions for each group.
The group discussion was followed by a panel where representatives of each group presenting their proposals of actions that U.S. cities and counties can take to optimize their relationship with China.
Interviewed by Xinhua, David Firestein, the founding executive director at China Public Policy Center, said that he brought people with different backgrounds together to promote mutual understanding and check issues in their areas of expertise.
"By bringing those particular perspectives together, a Chinese entrepreneur, an American entrepreneur and a policy expert, we think that we do a better job of covering the bases in terms of the different perspectives and getting the kind of input that we need to advance ideas that are going to work better in the real world," Firestein said.
Organizing the first event of its kind, Firestein hoped to copy that modal to future events in order to collect the intellectual power, get people from both the public and private sectors involved and generate optimal solutions.
"This is the beginning of a series of efforts we are going to make to try to apply the hackathon concept and the collective IQ and public or private concepts to issues in the U.S.-China relationship," Firestein said.
During the group and panel discussions, collaboration and exchanges were emphasized. Participants shared the view that in the current context of U.S.-China relations, subnational collaboration and people-to people exchanges between the two countries are the viable and sustainable path toward positive results.
This idea was echoed by Timothy Stratford, the managing partner of Beijing office at Covington & Burling LLP and former assistant U.S. trade representative for U.S.-China trade relations.
Living in China for more than 30 years, the veteran said Americans and Chinese should have more personal interactions to develop an accurate understanding with each other.
"When you can interact on a person-to-person basis, then people can understand and work out complicated problems much better," Stratford said.
Firestein also believed local-level activities could push forward the mutually beneficial and politically sustainable relationship even without the involvement of the federal government on the U.S. side or the central government on the Chinese side.
"State-to-state, state-to-province, or community-to-community engagement are the kind of things that we think we can do more and should do more to generate a ballast in the U.S.-China economic trade, investment and business engagement relationship," he said.