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Groton Welcomes Dr. Economy

Dr.+Economy+at+Groton
Dr. Economy at Groton

Dr. Economy at Groton

Sophie Conroy '19

Sophie Conroy '19

Dr. Economy at Groton

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On October 8th, the Circle welcomed Dr. Elizabeth C. Economy, Ph.D. as the first Circle Talk speaker of the school year. Dr. Economy is the director for Asian studies at the Council of Foreign Relations and a trustee on the National Committee on the U.S-China Relations. She is also a well-established author, writing about China’s global governance and its environmental changes. She has written three books: The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State; By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World; and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future.

In her talk, she focused on the relationship between the United States and China and the domestic policies that Xi Jinping, the paramount and core leader of China, is implementing. She discussed Xi Jinping’s effect on China, Deng Xiaoping’s effect on the authoritarian regime, the economies of both China and the U.S, and the Trump administration’s interaction with the Chinese government. Her speech was meant to broaden the students’ knowledge about the relationship between China and the U.S.

The Speakers Committee, chaired by Ms. Lamont, invited Dr. Economy to speak. Ms. Lamont said, “the committee felt that it was important to have a speaker discuss China… given the importance of China on the global stage and the importance of this bilateral relationship to Groton students.” She personally recommended Dr. Economy after reading much of her “balanced, insightful, and knowledgeable” work and listening to several of her speeches. Ms. Lamont also noted that “the Council On Foreign Relations, where Dr. Economy is primarily employed, is the United States’ leading research and outreach institution on the field of foreign affairs.” 

Dr. Economy’s speech was met with varying responses. Some students wished Dr. Economy had provided more background information on the topic. Katherine Brown ’19 commented that this would have helped people who were not familiar with Chinese politics stay engaged throughout the talk. Other students felt that Dr. Economy’s speech misrepresented China. Katherine said, “I feel like her speech was a little biased in the sense that it portrayed liberal democracy as being supreme.” Isabel Cai ’21, who hails from Shanghai, China, also commented, “I feel like she is telling the truth, but only a part of it. She sees China through an American lens, which reinforced the preconceived stereotypes about the Chinese government.” Isabel cited Dr. Economy’s statement that the Chinese government was controlling citizens through their phones, saying, “While it might be true that they can see browsing history, aren’t a lot of companies like Facebook doing a similar thing? Also, VPN is very common in China now… She’s making China sound like the world in [George Orwell’s] 1984, which is a bit extreme.” 

Dr. Economy’s Circle Talk was also met with lots of praise. Some students and faculty complimented Dr. Economy for being well-organized. Caroline Wilcox ‘20 found her talk to be thoroughly compelling, though the presentation itself to be lacking: “The topic and information was very interesting but it would’ve been more productive and understandable had the presentation been more… focus-grasping.” 

Others appreciated her expertise and approach to U.S.-China relations. Julien Alam ‘19 said, “She was literally one of the most informed people we’ve had come to Groton. A lot of people I talked to about [the Circle Talk] said that it was nice to learn in depth about what’s going on out in the world.”

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