Kerry Brown on ‘Dual Architecture’ in Global Governance

Hosted by Alan Alexandroff


As most international relations specialists would agree, the most consequential relationship now, and for the foreseeable future in the global order, is that between China and the West. There is a growing rivalry between China and the United States, and the rising tensions raises difficult global order questions for all the actors in the international system.

Kerry Brown is one of a number of China and international relations experts that have joined the Vision20 principals to examine the future of global order in the face of a growing tension between the two leading states in the international system, the United States and China.

The Vision20 principals, Colin Bradford, Brookings and Yves Tiberghien, UBC and myself here at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto launched the China and the West Dialogue (CWD) this spring, and with the support of Kevin Gallagher from Boston University, we planned our first workshop. The meeting became virtual, of course, with the pandemic and this initial workshop was joined with experts and former officials from Latin America, the United States, Canada, the UK and Europe.

The results of the meeting including identification of the participants and CWD statements that emerged can be found at the Global Development Policy (GDP) Center at Boston University ( Many of the experts that joined us at the BU virtual meeting also prepared Background Notes. All these Notes can be found at the CWD site at the Global Summitry Project website.

The Vision20 principals also planned to gather experts at the 4th annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin. That too turned into a virtual gathering. Several CWD participants prepared video presentations. These video presentations can be found at the GSS 2020 theme, the ‘Future of Multilateralism and Global Governance’ where Colin Bradford provided the keynote and the panel included Chen Dongxiao, President of SIIS in Shanghai, Susan Thornton, Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at Yale Law School Paul Tsai Center and Kerry Brown, Lau China Institute, King’s College London spoke on: ‘How is it Possible to avoid the emergence of another bipolar competitive era’.

As noted, Kerry was one of the video panelists. I was keen to bring Kerry back into the virtual studio (You can listen to Kerry Brown’s earlier podcast, Ep 28 ‘Shaking the Global Order’) to discuss his Background Note from the BU meeting and his panel appearance at the GSS. I wanted to dig further into his view that the global governance system was evolving to a ‘dual architecture’ or a ‘dual track world’ with ‘two different operating systems’. What are the implications of all this for US-China relations and indeed global governance relations?

Kerry Brown is currently Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute, Kings College London. Before that 2012-2015 Kerry was Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Kerry has served in both the public and the academic sectors. From 1998 to 2005, he worked at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, and then as Head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section.

Kerry has written a great deal about Chinese politics and its foreign policy. Probably his most well-known study is China's Dream: The Culture of Chinese Communism and the Secret Sources of Its Power.

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