Volunteering at Harvard China Forum (HCF) 2018 — Again!

3 min readApr 9, 2018

The conference was held April 6–8 at the Seaport World Trade Center. I applied again to be a volunteer because I just had to be a part of this experience. If you’re into Asia Affairs, you need to be here at #HCF2018. Period. Btw, HCF committee (their wechat ID: harvardchina) will be posting recaps of their populat panels over the next two weeks.

As expected, the hot topics include AI, block chain, fin tech, and the ever evolving political atmosphere in the Asia periphery.

HCF banners

Here’s my high light of the conference: I attended a panel on international relations. It was also one of the conferences conducted in English/Mandarin.

From left to right: Kasier Kuo, Jiang Changjian, Ira Kasoff, Anthony Saich

The panelists include professors and one is host of a popular podcast. They touched on multiple topics such as China’s political aspirations, a (very likely) trade war, Made in China 2025, and of course, One Belt One Road intiative (OBOR).

I find Made in China 2025 very fascinating! I learned about it last year when I was volunteering at HCF. It’s a detailed strategy about how China will forge ahead on emerging markets like genomics, big data, robotics, and AI. The panelists agreed that if the US is bullish on putting up a fight to bring back manufacturing jobs, they will fall behind on these new frontiers. Not able to compete in high-tech/high-growth areas is the real threat to US’s hegemony.

On OBOR, the panelists explained that policy made at the high level merges with interests from the province level. OBOR is adapted to each province’s interests and this shows agency and participation from every level. I didn’t know that the “Maritime” part was added to OBOR because the southern provinces desired it.

Finally Mr. Jiang’s words really caught my attention. The panelists were talking about how China is no longer keeping a low profile and its supposed appearance as “innocent bystander” is no longer a working facade. Then Mr.Jiang said that even if China has big dreams, we can all live in harmony. He used a proverb to explain this. Let me try reiterating it as elegantly as possible. He said, two people can share the same room, lie on the same bed, and have different dreams. Just because they have different aspirations, they don’t need to damage the roof or break the window. I’m not persuaded but cool idiom!

There were so many more panels and fireside chats hosted on the second day. Over 1500 guests signed up to listen to influential leaders like the ZhenFund team, Huawei executives, venture capitalists, environmentalists etc etc. I wish I could understand Mandarin. Note: Understanding Mandarin is necessary if you want to make valuable connections and understand most of the panelists. The third day was mostly consumed by the pitch contest.

And…. that’s a wrap for 2018!

“The Theme of Harvard China Forum 2018’s theme — Power of Our Times”

I’m so grateful for the opportunity and glad to meet people from all over the world. Thanks HCF!




Studying in Yoo-Ess-A| Born & raised in Myanmar