Course Offerings


US-China Rebalancing: Toward Global Sustainable Production and Consumption

The global economic growth in the past few decades has been dependent on the distinctive roles played by the US and China and the dynamics between them. The US has acted as the “consumer-of-last-resort”, providing the world with insatiable consumer demand. On the other hand, China has become the “world factory”, supplying the world with vast amounts of manufactured products. On average, the US buys over $1 billion worth of goods from China every single day; while China takes up the largest share of global supplies of coal and primary metals to produce these goods and spends twice as much energy as the US for each unit of output. It appears that the Americans are happily enjoying the low-priced wide-selection of Chinese goods and the Chinese are happily building factories, creating jobs and making money. But is this seemingly mutually beneficial relationship sustainable? Can the finite resources on this planet support ubiquitous consumerism? Should consumer demand be the primary driving force for the American economy and society? Will China’s resource-intensive and energy-inefficient production continue to drive its growth? Can China afford the “pollute now, clean later” development strategy? What will it take for both countries to make changes and achieve more sustainable global consumption and production? Through critical reading, informed discussions and thoughtful writing, we will together investigate some of these significant and pressing issues.

Yan Liang

Course taught by

Yan Liang