Former President makes online appearance at China Town Hall

George Mason University hosted the Eighth Annual China Town Hall Meeting last week, featuring an appearance by former President Jimmy Carter.

For the last eight years, Mason has been host to one of the 60 China Town Hall Meetings that take place all over the nation on the same day. Building off of U.S.-Chinese relations, the meetings offer Americans the chance to listen to speakers and discuss major political issues with leading experts on China. This years’ meeting was held in the Center for Global Education’s ballroom and offered a live webcast from The Carter Center with former President Jimmy Carter, followed by special Mason guest Weiping Wu.

Carter was asked many questions on topics ranging from cyber wars to education, including one about the amount of students who study abroad here in the U.S.

“We have over 250 thousand Chinese students in American universities and colleges, and in the last ten years, we’ve quadrupled the number of American students also going to China [to study],” Carter said.

Carter was also questioned about climate change, a major topic concerning the US and China as they are the two biggest contributors to carbon emissions. He said that when President Obama goes to China in November, if he and Chinese officials can come out with a common approach to cutting carbon emissions, then he believes the rest of the world will follow their example. He went on to say that the key to cutting emissions will be the common approach made between the US and China.

Carter also discussed popular political issues including ISIS, Ebola and Crimea. When asked about whether these issues could join the U.S. and China together in cooperation, Carter agreed that it could, but said that he remained uncertain as to whether that cooperation would be direct or indirect.

After the webcast with former President Carter was finished, Weiping Wu, the professor and chair of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University was invited up to the podium to speak. She opened with a presentation on the prospects and perils of China’s urbanization, which mainly focused on the environmental issues that plague China.

Wu was asked questions ranging from middle class formation to land seizures of Chinese people and discussed how construction in China has led to a larger middle class.

Photo Credit: Amy Podraza