Ambassador Tong Visits Kent to Discuss Current Affairs  


Aaron Liu, Campus News Reporter

In December, Ambassador Kurt Tong met with students in the Head’s Study to discuss the current state of affairs in Asia, especially focusing on China, Japan and Korea. As interested students asked thoughtful questions, Ambassador Tong responded to many political sensitivities with enlightening perspectives.

Ambassador Tong is a partner at The Asia Group, where he leads the firm’s work in Japan and broader East Asia. Prior to joining The Asia Group, Ambassador Tong was a career foreign service officer of 30 years. He was Consul General and Chief of Mission in Hong Kong and Macau, and he was the US Ambassador for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).  

Ambassador Tong’s job in the consulting services is mainly representing the United States to the host nation and “working with the government figuring out what other countries want.” In many cases, he works with undemocratic countries where policies are hard to push through and political aspects complicate the collaboration. “The importance of the job is to know how much to push in each situation,” said Ambassador Tong.

When asked about the current affairs between China and the U.S., Ambassador Tong reveals his insights and suggests a potential “Cold War” situation between the two countries. He believes that Washington sees China and themselves in a competition and would assume malice from the Chinese Government. “This is not what I think the situation should be, but sadly a lot of people are convinced that it is,” Ambassador Tong shared. “Nevertheless, I don’t think the situation will elevate to a full Cold War issue. Biden did a good job in Indonesia to talk things with Xi, and I think it drew a pact of some sort to prevent further elevation of matters.” 

When students asked about the Taiwan situation in China, especially his opinion on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Ambassador Tong smiled mildly. “To be frank, I am relieved that I am not associated with the White House any more so I can speak my thoughts. I don’t think it is a good visit. The situation is pretty tense as Taiwan is probably the most sensitive topic in China, so we see a triggered China launching military exercises. A war wouldn’t be good for both sides.”

Ambassador Tong later answered more questions from the students including questions about the Xinjiang Uyghur rights, Tibet, and Covid in China. His expertise on these subjects gave students some reassuring answers about these topics that may interfere with their lives. With 2022 being a fractious year for the world, Ambassador Tong’s visit was much needed and appreciated.