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Watchman

  • Source: Global Times
  • [03:52 November 30 2009]
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George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs on Flickr

By Vera Penêda

Scholar, writer, professor, consultant, commentator…David Shambaugh has been playing all these roles with his eyes firmly turned toward China for the past 30 years. He's witnessed China's crucial achievements, contrasts and contradictions in the second half of the People's Republic and dedicated his life to understanding China and  the often-intense Sino-US relationship.

After Obama's visit and ahead of a book talk at the Bookworm, Shambaugh chatted about standing still on the tightrope between China and the US.

Shambaugh's lessons make Sino-US ties seem like a live documentary with all the insightful comments to read between the lines of an intricate plot. Tall and assertive, Shambaugh takes off his watch and puts it on the stand to control the time and divides the lecture into topics, prof-style.

"Let's see how much time I have...I structured this talk on US-China ties in three levels: Global, regional, bilateral" he explained to reporters before Obama's first-ever visit to China. Journalists listened carefully, eager for clues to understand, report and predict the Obama-Hu Jintao encounter and its sequels. Shambaugh contextualized, commented on the official agenda, and comfortably addressed questions.

The scholar evokes concepts such as soft power and strategic reassurance and, in fluent Chinese, he often uses words and expressions to address thoroughly the nuances of Washington-Beijing ties. As if in class, he goes bibliographic: "Brilliant article! If you didn't read it, than you should. You can find it online," the teacher says.

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