Over 20 Chinese college students joined roughly 200 Yale students and faculty this weekend for the second-annual U.S.-China Forum at Yale intended to strengthen relationships between future leaders in the United States and China.

The two-day conference included speeches by policy experts, student discussions, and panels with professors and business executives on topics ranging from finance to the history of U.S.-China relations. Yong Zhao FES ’14, chief coordinator of the U.S.-China Forum at Yale, said the conference aimed to encourage cooperation between the two countries by fostering discussion among Chinese and American students.

“The goal of the conference is to facilitate mutual trust between the United States and China on a different level,” Zhao said. “Instead of focusing on the government, we hope to promote relationships between people of our generation. We are trying to build a framework for people interested in China to work together.”

Conference speakers discussed the state of U.S.-China relations, ongoing financial reform and investment in China and the sustainability of Chinese manufacturing, among other topics.

Gang Fan, an economics professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Science and director of China’s National Economic Research Institute, gave the Sunday morning keynote speech titled “Financial Reform of China and Future Internationalization of the RMB.” Fan discussed several economic reforms — such as increases in venture capital investment and the “breaking down [of] the monopoly” of state-run banks — that he said are needed to reduce the number of non-performing loans and stimulate the economy.

He said he expects the Chinese currency Renminbi (RMB) will become more important in the global economy in the coming years, adding that he thinks the international community should begin relying less on the U.S. dollar.

Fan said in an interview after his keynote speech that the conference allowed participating students to engage in informed discussion, and added that he hopes universities in China will hold similar events.

“This conference is a good initiative,” Fan said. “It is important for us to share information and encourage students to engage in policy debates on the relevant issues.”

On Saturday afternoon the conference held a student discussion on the ways Chinese and American cultures approach topics such as marriage, college and volunteer work.

Also on Saturday, teams from Yale and Harvard, as well as Beijing’s Peking University and Tsinghua University, competed in the “Cross-Pacific Perceptions” debate.

Austin Long ’15, who won the debate along with teammates David Yin ’15 and Shubo Yin ’14, said the debate helped him to better understand global issues from China’s perspective, adding that differences between Chinese and American students “are not that substantial.”

Shu Fu, a senior from Tsinghua University, said participating in the debate was a good opportunity to “exchange opinions and get new perspectives.”

The conference was organized by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale.