November 10-12, 2014: Atlanta, Georgia

A delegation of political science researchers visited The Carter Center (TCC) on November 12. The delegation included Fang Ning, senior researcher and director of the Institute of Political Science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS); Dr. Feng Yue, director of the Information Section within the Political Science Institute; and Dr. Zhang Qi, Institute of American Studies at CASS. Fang has visited the United States frequently to observe American elections; he is a prominent writer within China, having published many articles in The Global Times as well as many popular books about Chinese and American politics. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) is one of the most comprehensive academic research organizations in the fields of philosophy and social sciences in Asia. Comprised of five separate academic divisions and thirty-five research institutes, it has been described by Foreign Policy as the top think tank in Asia; CASS is affiliated with the P.R.C.’s State Council. Since its establishment in 1977, CASS has generated research for political, economic and legal policy-making at different levels of the Chinese government.

In years past, The Carter Center and CASS have collaborated on several occasions. The two organizations co-hosted two political development forums, one in Beijing and one in Shenzhen. In November 2012, TCC recommended Fang Ning and Feng Yue to observe the presidential election. In April 2014 Dr. John Stremlau, Vice President of Peace Programs at TCC, visited CASS to discuss future collaboration. For example, Dr. Stremlau inquired whether CASS could generate recommendations for the Democracy Program’s desktop publication on election observation.

While at The Carter Center, the delegation had a brief meeting with Carter Center C.E.O. Ambassador Mary Ann Peters. During their meeting they discussed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting that had occurred the day prior in Beijing. They also touched on President Obama and President Xi’s meeting and the groundbreaking agreement between the two governments to curb carbon emissions by the year 2025. Ambassador Peters and the CASS delegation also analyzed the current state of U.S.-China relations, the proposed new model of major country relations, and the importance of nations learning from each other. The delegation  proposed a return trip to the United States to observe the 2016 presidential elections, particularly the South Carolina primaries.

After the conversation with Ambassador Peters, Dr. Liu provided an overview of the recent 2014-midterm elections, where he examined the American political climate after the Republican takeover of the Senate and many other gubernatorial seats. Dr. Liu commented on the powerful effect super PACs have had upon the electoral landscape, the ability of the states to determine their own laws through popular ballot initiatives, and low voter turnout (particularly during midterm elections). Dr. Liu concluded the presentation with predictions about the potential 2016 Presidential nominees from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Throughout the presentation, the delegation raised many thoughtful and interesting questions about the American election process, which Dr. Liu fielded. After a luncheon catered at Copenhill Café, the delegation was led on a tour of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. The group also went to Clemson University in South Carolina to speak with professors there about the midterm election. Clemson professors also discussed the possibility of observing the presidential primary election in 2016. The CASS delegation also traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York.

By YOLANDA NGO Edited by TRAVIS M. MILLER & MARJORIE PERRY November 18, 2014 in US-China Perception Monitor