pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

Comparative Connections Virtual Roundtable



Public Virtual Event


About This Event

On August 24, Sourabh Gupta, Dr. Sheila Smith, and Dr. Robert Sutter discussed the effects of the standoff between the US and China on the Indo-Pacific, with tensions over trade, maritime boundaries, and arms buildup intensifying.


Sourabh Gupta is a senior Asia-Pacific international relations policy specialist with two decades of Washington, D.C.-based experience in a think tank and political risk research and advisory capacity. His key area of expertise pertains to the intersection of international law, both international trade and investment law and international maritime law (Law of the Sea), with the international relations of the Asia-Pacific region. His areas of specialization include: U.S.-China trade and technology competition; analysis of developments in World Trade Organization and Asia-Pacific economic regionalism; analysis of major power relationships (China-U.S., China-Japan, China-India, U.S.-Japan, U.S.-India, Japan-India; Russia-Japan relations) and key flashpoint issues in the Asia-Pacific region; and analysis of outstanding territorial disputes and maritime law-related developments. He is a member of the United States Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (USCSCAP). Prior to joining ICAS, he was a Senior Research Associate at Samuels International Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm specializing in government relations and global trade and investment matters. He holds master’s degrees in security studies and international relations from the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, respectively. His bachelor’s degree was awarded by the University of Mumbai.

Sheila A. Smith is John E. Merow senior fellow for Asia Pacific studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy, she is the author of Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power, Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China and Japan’s New Politics and the U.S.-Japan Alliance. She is also the author of the CFR interactive guide Constitutional Change in Japan. Smith is a regular contributor to the CFR blog Asia Unbound and a frequent contributor to major media outlets in the United States and Asia. Smith joined CFR from the East-West Center in 2007, where she directed a multinational research team in a cross-national study of the domestic politics of the U.S. military presence in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. She was a visiting scholar at Keio University in 2007-08, where she researched Japan’s foreign policy towards China, supported by the Abe Fellowship. Smith has been a visiting researcher at two leading Japanese foreign and security policy think tanks, the Japan Institute of International Affairs and the Research Institute for Peace and Security, and at the University of Tokyo and the University of the Ryukyus. Smith is chair of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and the U.S. advisors to the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON), a binational advisory panel of government officials and private-sector members. She teaches as an adjunct professor at the Asian studies department of Georgetown University and serves on the board of its Journal of Asian Affairs. She also serves on the advisory committee for the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future program of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Smith earned her MA and PhD from the political science department at Columbia University.

Robert Sutter is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University (2011-Present). He also served as Director of the School’s main undergraduate program involving over 2,000 students from 2013-2019. He has served as Special Adviser to the Dean on Strategic Outreach (2021-present). His earlier full-time position was Visiting Professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University (2001-2011). A Ph.D. graduate in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University, Sutter has published 22 books (four with multiple editions), over 300 articles and several hundred government reports dealing with contemporary East Asian and Pacific countries and their relations with the United States. His most recent books are Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy of an Emerging Global Force, Fifth Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) and US-China Relations: Perilous Past, Uncertain Present, Fourth Edition (Rowman & Littlefield 2022). Sutter’s government career (1968-2001) saw service as senior specialist and director of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division of the Congressional Research Service, the National Intelligence Officer for East Asia and the Pacific at the US Government’s National Intelligence Council, the China division director at the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.