A World in Transition

A China in the World Podcast

Ambassador William J. Burns served for over three decades at the highest levels of the U.S. government, shaping U.S. foreign policy through significant international moments. Now, as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ambassador Burns spoke with Paul Haenle about the future of U.S. diplomacy, the rise of China, and the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore.

Burns says the world is in the midst of considerable uncertainty and transition. He points to the emergence of rising powers like China and India, challenges to regional order in the Middle East, and revolutions in new technologies as driving changes in the international landscape and reshaping the global economy. Burns argues that international institutions and alliances must be updated to reflect new power realities and that effective diplomacy will be more important than ever. China’s rise is the most consequential phenomenon on the international landscape, Burns says, and the U.S.-China relationship will face significant challenges as the two countries adapt to each other’s shifting global influence. Ahead of the Trump-Kim summit, Burns emphasizes the need for realistic expectations and careful preparation to close the gap between U.S. and North Korean views on fundamental issues like denuclearization. He stresses the need for a unified multilateral approach to secure a deal, taking into account, for example, the role of China and the significance of U.S. alliance relationships with the Republic of Korea and Japan.