Minutes of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy May 2004 Official Meeting
Chairman Barbara Barrett: We are especially delighted for this occasion to be in such wonderful quarters. Consul Spelman, we thank you for your hospitality and are delighted that you are able to be with us here at the beginning.
Consul Doug Spelman: Good morning. I would like to formally welcome our guests from both sides. We are delighted to have the Commission here. As I said, briefly, Shanghai is an exciting place. China is changing rapidly. There are lots of opportunities for public diplomacy, so I am delighted you are here to see those first hand. And to our guests, we are very happy to have you and grateful that you have taken the time to meet with us. We will talk to the Commission directly, but we also thought it might be beneficial for you to speak openly with the Commissioners about what you think about the situation in China as you are all excellent spokespeople. So with that, I will turn it back to the Chairman and we will proceed however she would like to.
Chairman Barrett: Allow me to again welcome each of you and extend my gracious thanks to Jennifer for coordinating our meeting, to Matt Lauer, our Executive Director; and the entire staff of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I would like for my commissioners to introduce themselves if we could start, Harold with you. Would you be kind enough to introduce yourself briefly?
Commissioner Harold Pachios: My name is Harold Pachios and I am a lawyer from Portland, Maine.
Commissioner Tre’ Evers: My name in Tre’ Evers and I have a public relations company in Orlando, Florida.
Commissioner Elizabeth Bagley: My name is Elizabeth Bagley. I’m a lawyer by education, not by practice, and I served in the Clinton administration as U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.
Commissioner Sophia Aguirre: I am Sophia Aguirre and I am a professor of economics in Washington, DC.
Commissioner Jay Snyder: I am Jay Snyder and I am from the business community in New York City.
Chairman Barrett: I am Barbara Barrett. I hail from Arizona and have the privilege of serving as the chairman of this team.
We are especially pleased that we have the opportunity to hear from you. With limited time and a business-like attitude, we are interested in getting right to the matter at hand. We would like to hear your insights about current Chinese perceptions of the U.S. and what we can better do to enhance friendly relations between our countries. We also appreciate any advice you can share about U.S. relations worldwide. I would like to hear from each of you, and maybe each of you can open with a comment. Then we will have a lot of questions and interaction. Would you start Mr. Yu?
Mr. Yu JianJun: My name is Yu JianJun and I am currently a graduate student majoring in International Relations. It is my honor to be here to talk to you and I look forward to a very good exchange with each other.
Chairman Barrett: Maybe what we should do is a quick introduction and then we will come back to your statement.
Mr. Haisong Tang : My name is Haisong Tang. I was born ten miles from the Shanghai airport but I was away for ten years after 1990. I spent four years in the States, two years at Harvard Business School and then two years working in New York for McKinsey and Company. I came back to start my own internet company based in Shanghai.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you very much, and congratulations on the success that you have had. In an internet company, I suspect you will see a lot more of it in the future.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes, the market is growing rapidly.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace):My Chinese name is Yang BingBing but my English name is Grace. I worked with Lehman-Edison in computer education for about six years before I came to Shanghai.
Chairman Barrett: We are especially delighted that we will have the opportunity to see your facility during our visit. Thanks very much for being here, Grace.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: My name is Chen Dongxiao and I am a research fellow studying the law of international organizations at Shanghai Professional Studies. I worked in the American studies section for several years and just moved to a new research department focused on the study of U.S.-China relations in a multilateral context.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you very much. We look forward to your comments.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: That’s mutual.
Mr. Chen Weihua: My name is Chen Weihua. I joined the China Daily in 1987 and have participated in two U.S. general fellowships. I plan to participate in another in September. We also started the Shanghai Star in 1992.
Chairman Barrett: Thanks and congratulations. We look forward to hearing from you.
Back to you, JianJun. Would you go ahead with your statement and your comments? Would five minutes be sufficient?
Mr. Yu JianJun: Yes. I think the domestic management of the USA sets a very good example for other countries to follow. It has developed a set of complicated and effective systems that guarantees that everything remains in its right position and which prevents the worst from happening. I think the U.S. honors cherished and varied ideas such as liberalism, democracy and individualism. It has the potential to maintain its prosperity and great power, which, I think no nation in the world can match in the near future. I believe the U.S. is a very good nation, very varied internally. Nevertheless, it is not a good nation to others if we assess it from its foreign behaviors. That is, its "goodness" does not translate into what is good for others. To protect all sorts of national interests, the U.S. must have a presence everywhere in the world.
U.S. foreign policy seldom looks at its priorities from the viewpoint of the outside world. Taiwan is an example. The U.S. feels it is justifiable to sell weapons to Taiwan, as this is not only economically profitable but also emotionally comfortable to some Americans. I have to say that this action is very shortsighted and provocative to the Chinese people. What’s more, it is not beneficial to the people on the Taiwanese issue. On the contrary, it fuels the current tensions across Taiwan. Also, we can find lots of examples to illustrate the U.S.’s improper hindrance of its relations with others.
I feel that domestic parties have too much influence on U.S. foreign policy. Thank you.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you very much. That is a lot in five minutes, and a good start. We will hear each statement and then come back with discussion at the end, unless anyone has any burning questions.
Mr. Haisong Tang: I was very fortunate that I lived overseas in the United States, Europe, Hong Kong as I have experienced a lot of different value systems as well as different types of lifestyles in those countries. I think the overall feeling of the United States among young Chinese is very mixed. On the one hand, I think there is a lot of admiration of the United States. It is a country that values individualism, entrepreneurship, freedom and democracy. On the other hand, the policies of this Administration and events in Iraq and Afghanistan give people a very different feeling. They see the U.S. as being arrogant and unilateral.
I think the United States’ strong points are: 1.) the US education system. I speak not of the elementary or high school system but the university level education system. I benefited from the education I received at Harvard Business School. I had the opportunity to meet so many excellent people from around the world, not just the U.S. The ability to absorb so many people from different cultures and to assimilate them together is a major strength of the U.S. 2.) the United States is very unique in a sense. The US has a system that is quite balanced. You have financial markets supported. You have this social mentality that values people who will take adventures. This is quite unlike Europe where if you start a company and fail, your career will be tarnished. The United States generates the most individual technology ideas and if you look at the Internet today; if you look at any new technology, the United States is still the best place for young people to pursue their dreams. So this is a very positive side.
On the negative side, I think, in particular, with what is happening in Iraq and what is happening today - we saw these scandalous pictures. I think people start to believe that the United States is very unilateral. Obviously with a very big power like the United States, it is very difficult to balance your own value system and national interest and at the same time be a police force worldwide. China is going to have the same problem as it becomes powerful. Based on this understanding. I sometimes think it is unfair for people to criticize the United States. However, people expect the United States to be a "big brother" to the world. People expect the United States to help other people and the United States is running the risk of being criticized because of what you have done, particularly in the past three to four years, given the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, I think as a civilian, the Chinese find right now that the United States is very difficult to visit as the visa situation is probably getting even worse due to world events. A lot of young people who dream of studying in the United States or pursuing career opportunities there feel very frustrated by the difficulty they have getting into the country. Many things can be done, but I think the United States will wait until after the election there in November to change its foreign policies. Overall, people still have a special expectation of the United States. People love to spend time in the United States, to experience life there. That is my feeling about the States.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you very much Tang. We appreciate your comments. With your background, each of you brings tremendous value, so we thank you especially for speaking from your experiences. Next – may I call you "Grace"?
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to you today about my experiences. I began my job in 1997. I resigned at the end of the year 2002. You know, it kind of compares the needs between the U.S. company, an international company and a local company. Both are publishing policies. You might be interested in the publishing practices of U.S. or international companies. They can publish anything they think they have an interest in. In China, you cannot publish what you want because they have very strict regulations. I never ran into this before when I worked with Pearson. Pearson folks publish educational materials and English language learning materials. They publish electronic products, such as videos, that help students learn the material and promote the sale of their books. That is the main difference I feel between the international and the local publishing houses.
Another interesting development is China’s entrance into the W.T.O. because the government wants to make the companies bigger and bigger to compete with international companies. Recently, some very big publishing groups have located here but these kind of publishing groups cannot go by themselves because the government wants separate, small publishing companies to form a group. This situation is different from that of international companies like Pearson Education. Pearson Education has acquired many companies and merged them together. They found they have been shipping just because the market needs them to do this to make them big. To be big is always the best. With increased size you can gain more market share, which will allow you to compete with the other publishing companies.
Also in talking about management, before I resigned, I worked as a country manager for Pearson’s Education in China. I was in charge of both the Shanghai office and the Beijing office. My boss let me know what I could do to fulfill my job. I had the budget and I knew my overhead. I knew how much money I could spend every year. I knew the sales figure. I needed to reach the gross margin. Working for Pearson was a really good learning experience for me. I learned a great deal about the different kinds of international markets and their characteristics. Here in the local publishing houses, because they are still controlled by the government, everything starts in a quite different way. Sometimes you cannot decide according to the market needs, you need to listen to the boss. It is a different kind of relationship.
From this kind of comparison, I really think China is still in the process of developing and on the other side, the space is arm deep. There is a high level of development and the focus is on marketing skills, management skills, and even sometimes the regulations and policies. We try to encourage companies to vary their methods of investment to improve and gain market share. That process is underway but there is still a long way to go. Working with Pearson has also influenced my view of mergers and acquisitions. Every time a merger or acquisition occurs, colleagues leave the company to cut down on expenses and cut the budget. You need to have people leave. With that kind of thinking, you need to adjust yourself. It is a kind of mixed feeling. The company needs to improve, but on the other hand friends, bosses or even yourself leave the company. That sort of thing is often good but not always.
Chairman Barrett: That doesn’t happen in a Chinese company?
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): Even after a merger, most of the people will stay in the company. That’s the difference.
Chairman Barrett: And your comment about the understanding of the margin, the pricing, the profits and the sales numbers you had at Pearson, are you suggesting you don’t have that kind of transparency?
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace):Yes, here we have that understanding, but even the accounting system is sometimes different. There are different ways to calculate this kind of sales, marketing, etc.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I share my Chinese colleagues’ views. Either as an average Chinese person or as a fellow in American studies for many years, I, and I think my Chinese colleagues share the same feeling that we always have an ambivalent attitude toward the United States and its role in the international arena.
Since I have just finished a paper on hegemony and our relationship with national institutions, my comments are generally along that aspect. On the one hand, the United States is one of the leading champions for the creation and running of multilateral international institutions. We understand that the United States plays an indispensable role for the construction and running of the international order based upon those multilateral international institutions (the UN, the IMF, the WTO, etc.). On the other hand, in past decades we have seen how ill concealed America’s suspicion of those multilateral institutions is. And my understanding is that there are several reasons underlying America’s ambivalence toward and suspicion of those multilateral institutions. One reason I think the United States has been put in a very strange position of, as I call it a role playing, is because it has to provide leadership to maintain to make those multilateral institutions work, even if it sometimes has to sacrifice itself to adopt so-called self-restraint which allows these multilateral institutions work. On the other hand, as a big power, it always has a strong propensity to pursue its parochial interests of attempting to rid itself of the restraint of those multilateral institutions. So, this difference of roles is always a contradictory and conflicting performance.
The second reason I think is because the United States has a unique political culture. The United States always tried in the past hundred years to recast international societies in its domestic image. It tried to impose its liberal domestic institutions upon societies around the world. Whenever those multilateral institutions were established, they worked under their own relative independence rather than always subordinate to the United States control. That always makes the structural contraindication between the national institutions and the United States causing a kind of tension.
So what is the way out of such dilemmas? I think the most important thing is that the United States should continue to have a realistic judgment about itself in order to realize that that kind of power only lasts for moments, not forever. In order to maintain its activities for a long period of time, it will continue to emphasize the value of the short-term interest of the parochial interests and the long-term interests for institutional stability.
So the value of self-restraint is very important, though I know it is very tough, particularly when the United States has unprecedented powers. It is very tough for it to have self-restraint.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you. Thanks very much. Now, Chen, thank you very much for your patience.
Mr. Chen Weihua: In my office, I am considered kind of pro-American. I actually often debate a British colleague who I believe is an even stronger supporter. Keep in mind that this is probably a guy who has been in the US for a while and is pro-American here.
In China the government tends to divide the news as positive and negative in the media. In terms of using that criteria, I think the perception of the United States is positive in terms of business, culture, maybe science and technology and sports. Michael Jordan is in Beijing and has a lot of fans. So do multinational companies, Fortune 500 companies. Maybe half of them are in Shanghai so they are hiring tens of thousand white collar, highly educated Chinese so I think people are using American products. They understand Americans through daily use of American products. Coke-Cola, like it or hate it, but it is an American product we feel every day. We know that in America you have so many things that are "Made in China", clothing and whatever. So this makes for very good communication, a very good bridge for bringing people to our countries. And Hollywood movies, whether you watch The Pirates of the Caribbean or whatever, I think this does help. We argue that Hollywood movies do not portray America, but still you understand how people react to your interested choice in the United States and how you would treat children, I mean documentaries, travel programs and Discovery, but what I want folks to think is what, let’s say, will be the foreign policy, which tends to be an issue here.
I think it was mentioned the US is usually perceived as being arrogant in terms of the Chinese population and what has been going on in the last three years with the war on terror. I think even the regime change in Iraq was not justified by many Chinese. I think using that criteria, a lot of regimes should be changed. Again, I think what is emphasized in the US is diversity.
I think you should respect diversity so people with different ethnologies can co-exist. The war on terror actually pushed some people, I would probably say, towards extremism. So they probably are not harmful to the US. Now with George W. Bush’s statement, "Either you are with me or with Terrorists", I have no choice so I don’t feel good. That’s my perception. I should be allowed to stay in the middle. I don’t like you, I don’t like him, but you don’t give me a choice, so who should I be grouped with?
The other topic I feel very strongly about is the United States’ use of economic sanctions. They have not been used as often this year but in previous years there have been a lot. The fifty years of sanctions against Cuba for example; I don’t think they are working and I basically believe the sanctions are not hurting people like Fidel Castro but that they are hurting his people. If you sanction China, who do you sanction? The people are going to suffer by taking away the medicine for Iraqi people or whatever. So I don’t think that’s going to work. And actually, it will sew hatred among people. One of my observations is if you sanction a country, people tend to unite and support their leaders rather than support the American government. So I think this kind of backfire is not working. Also, the idea of the United States as a "global policeman" was mentioned. I always like this kind of a missionary view of America. You know, we should have freedom here, democracy here, etc. But I think often times in recent years we more often than not see American self-interest in carrying out this global policing. We see a lot of things self-centered by the US government. Then you cannot justify, "We are there for your good." If you people come here, obviously you have a self-interest or motivation. So if you are being altruistic, I think people would like you but I think the motivation has not been 100% pure.
In China, I think the situation tends to be like if it’s the Arab-Israeli situation, we probably don’t like the American stance – it is always with Israel, not supportive enough with the Palestinians. Overall this may not be so closely related to China but when situations tend to be linked closely with China, like the EP-3 collision or the Belgrade bombing, there is a nationalistic sentiment here. When these come together, the American image tends to be much worse, and then you have student demonstrations. Like the prisoner’s views – you would say, just a small group? But when people have this anti-American sentiment, they don’t see this as a small group. They see this as a single American. So this will be exaggerated. Chinese students will say, "One American beaten…" and then, you know, you have this whole American image punished. Because America is so important, if an Iranian or a Russian beat somebody, I mean it would not become such big news, but when events such as the Belgrade bombing, the EP3 situation, or similar dust ups occur shortly before, people are more likely to take issue with it. I do think we kind of have problems, but I would rather Americans resort to more active dialog. I think the dialog is okay. American image rides on the situation in Iraq. I don’t like it, but I think that the White House is not engaging in this six-party dialog. I think the sentiment here is that we would rather see a dialog if you think we are wrong rather than resorting to our colleagues’ extreme actions. My observation of China is similar to the one made by George Bush, Sr. when he criticized China ten years ago. I always think, obviously, to a point he was right because I understand the country. But Jr., I think, is to the left compared to his father.
Commissioner Harold Pachios: Let me just say that George Bush, Sr. was fairly well known in this country because he was Ambassador here. Was he respected?
Mr. Chen Weihua: Yes, I think people thought he had a good knowledge of China. I think he made sense when he criticized the country, otherwise people think it is very foreign to them.
Chairman Barrett: But I heard some giggles on that response. What do you think is the case with regard to respect for recent political leadership and the fact that the first President Bush had been Ambassador here? How would you say his understanding of the country or his perception in the country is.
Mr. Haisong Tang: I share the same impression of George Bush, Jr. as his professor at Harvard – that he was not actually very welcome in the Harvard Business School even though his father is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School. He was here about two weeks ago, I think. Obviously, as a former President of the United States, he can continue earning money from Saudi Arabia like all the noble families because of his national security ties. I think it is a very bad thing for the United States and for the entire global image. George Bush, Sr. was head of the CIA so the CIA tends not to have a very good image here. I think Clinton had a much better image in mainland China, in particular among the young people in my generation despite his colorful personal life. I think he was well liked in this country as intelligent and someone who really, truly sends forth the U.S. spirit. The Bush family is a relatively wealthy family, one portrayed as a typical American story.
Chairman Barrett: Let me clarify here that the typical American story is the George Bush story?
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes. I think the fact George W. Bush came from the Southern United States where Christian values are very prevalent influences his policies. You are either evil or you are good. There is nothing wrong with Christian values. The fact is, in most parts of the world, you have Islam, Buddhism, and other completely different value systems.
Chairman Barrett: You are talking about fundamentalist Christian values?
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes.
Chairman Barrett: President Bill Clinton also came from the South.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes, but he was very different. In this part of the world, we believe everything is gray and it is not necessary to have everything either black or white. Everything is in the middle. Perhaps George W. Bush sincerely believes that what he does is right for the world, but other parts of the world do not see things that way. So his personal Christian value is influencing the entire national policy.
Chairman Barrett: Mr. Chen Weihua
Mr. Chen Weihua: I have a very good impression of Bill Clinton, and I think he knows China. He knows how to deal with China and he knows the importance of China in US foreign policy. I think Bush, Sr. is very amiable and very kind, but Bush, Jr. is like a cowboy and is very tough, very stern.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: May I? I met President Bush, Sr. in Texas this past February. I think he is a very nice, calm old gentleman. At the meeting he very readily entered into conversation with some of the Chinese party and I had a very nice conversation with him. The average Chinese people have a better image of Senior Bush because not only is he steady personally but he was also steady in China for a long period of time. I think from a Chinese perspective, as an old friend he knows China better and has a more comprehensive and balanced picture of China. His interaction with the Chinese government was always very genuine, even after Tiananmen Square, when the US imposed sanctions against China.
Bush, Sr. also dispatched General Scrowcroft to China to meet with Chinese leadership. Beijing officials as well as the Chinese people, appreciated his efforts very much. But in Chinese, there is a saying that when you are in need you will know better who are your friends. So in those times, we think his initiatives were very courageous and I know that it was a very great political risk for himself, but we very much appreciated his understanding that it is impossible to isolate a country such as China. He was quite different from his son, George Jr. whose policies are too influenced by neo- conservatives. That is only one of the reasons why the China-US relationship has been very tight-pinched during the early years of his administration. However, I think the bilateral relationship has not been at its best since Bush #1 left office and I think we should maintain a good relationship.
Chairman Barrett: Are there other questions?
Commissioner Pachios: I would like to make a brief statement and then I would like to engage you in something because you all know a little bit about the United States. I understood the part about Iraq. We are a diverse group. We represent a democracy where we all get appointed to this Commission and we have different views. I disagree with many of my colleagues about Iraq. I opposed the war in Iraq from the very beginning. But Afghanistan was different. We look at polls regularly and they showed that in the first few months following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, there was strong support throughout the world. There was even a majority of support in many Arab countries, which was understood by people in most countries. If some terrorists based in Afghanistan crashed China Eastern planes into a skyscraper in Shanghai, China would not China have responded in a similar manner? There was worldwide support and sympathy for the United States, even in China. Iraq was a different than Afghanistan.
Secondly, you all touched a little bit on the United States, and you said, Mr. Haisong Tang, about domestic politics. I always have some frustration in people everywhere in the world when it comes to truly understanding the dynamic of American politics because if you understand the dynamic of American politics, then you don’t look at these policies you disagree with and say; well this is this huge monolithic country that is imposing these policies. It is wrong that four Supreme Court Justices can change the course of history. So America is a huge and unwieldy and sometimes undisciplined democracy. I remember watching Pablo Cassell, the great cellist’s interview one day. He was conducting some students playing the cello and he knocked his baton and he stopped them. He said good music is like good government, freedom but with order. And so there is a spectrum in your country that you know, the meter is over a little bit more toward order. I was here several years ago and was talking to someone in the Chinese Foreign Ministry. He said you have to understand. There are a billion and a quarter people – four times the number in this country as in your country, so we have to worry a little about order. People coming out of the Soviet Union during the midst of the Cold War would come to the United States and be afraid because they thought it was chaos. They didn’t think it was freedom. They thought it was chaotic.
So we have a chaotic political system and I don’t know how in such an open democracy we can cure these problems of politicians playing to the electorate. It is a major problem. I’d like to find out from you whether you think this is something that we need to better educate people around the world about based on your experiences having lived here. You lived in Cambridge – the People’s Republic of Cambridge, the most chaotic place in the world! The whole world is in chaos.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Personally, I like to read a lot of history books like the History of Europe. And I think the United States, as a political system, is one of the most balanced in the world. While we can criticize the United States’ behavior worldwide, we must remain fair and objective and I think the U.S. has one of the best systems running currently. I think there are probably three times in history: One is the Greek time, which created the idea of democracy, which created the idea of government. The Roman Empire was a pure follow up of the Greek system. The next time was the Renaissance in the 15th-16th century when the Greeks ruled the human ideology and everything was coming to a new standard. But now I think the United States truly is a place that even though, as you mentioned, it is a chaotic democracy, it is a system, which works.
Every system that works has its own drawbacks. At this stage, the US is probably in a dilemma. You have your own value system. People expect you to be a world leader but at the same time people criticize you for what you are doing. Frankly, you can say look, I don’t want to spend time or money on your own country. That is your own business. Then another country will criticize you, as well, because they say as a world leader why don’t you take any action? So it is a dilemma but I think for the domestic politics, you have a mainly well-balanced bipartisan system which has generated some great leaders that I respect; Lincoln, Roosevelt, who was elected for a fourth time and died in office. Recently, John Kennedy is an example. There were all these people that had their own characters. J.F.K. was born with one leg shorter than the other and served in WWII and Roosevelt was paralyzed, so these people had a very strong character. They really had a huge influence on the U.S. people and leveraged the entire system. But the U.S. people, average American citizens, are far more gullible than Europeans. The French would tend to complain about everything the government does, while the Chinese read between the lines in newspapers. We never trust newspaper articles.
In the U.S., if you look at the politics, everything is about polls. People generally read the numbers. I was a big fan of The West Wing TV show and it is a perfect example of how the country is run by the director of communications, the secretary of state, and the chief of staff. You know, it is run by this group of people -
Commissioner Harold Pachios: Here is what I want to know. You all understand – you spent time in the States, you spent a lot of time with Americans, you understand the political system. How do young people at Fudan University see America in the world, unilateralism, arrogance, bias against the Palestinian position – whatever. Do they have the context that you have of domestic American politics? And isn’t it important – we are trying to learn how to explain America to the world. Do you think it is important for young people in the universities in this country, for example, to understand the context in which all this happens – this somewhat chaotic democracy? Does it help explain it all? Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it doesn’t make any difference in understanding the policy. That’s what I’d like to hear about.
Mr. Yu JianJun: Most of the students in the university do not quite understand what Americans are doing with regard to politics. Just take for example the Iraqi prisoner abuse. It’s a very bad thing for the American image in China and in the whole world. We don’t understand because it is not a thing Americans should do but on the other hand President Bush apologized to the Iraqi’s and to the world. We feel surprised because it is very rare to apologize for such a thing. Americans just sometimes like a very complicated drama because we know the dynamics of the workings of the systems. I read a book called Hardball by Chris Matthews, so I know another side of American politics. It just tells people how to achieve power in America so it gives us another window into American politics.
Chairman Barrett: You are a very rare gathering of extraordinary backgrounds and in some ways very elite capabilities and exposures. How do most people your age learn about what is going on in the US and those kinds of things? I suspect West Wing isn’t the usual fare for people your age. How would you compare what you have seen to the source and impressions that are gained by not only your peers but also comparable age groups? Your thoughts?
Mr. Chen Weihua: As a media practitioner, I believe the media probably should take the blame sometimes because often times we think the news media in America treats China very negatively. The nature of journalism is that they usually tend to focus on scandal, crisis, and other negative things but its very risky when ordinary people depend on this kind of information to understand a country, to understand China. Often times you meet people who have never been to China and when they talk about Americans working in China they always say "They better be careful. They could be arrested there any time for no reason." That is not true of China today, but that is kind of a reflection of American understanding of China. We have a lot of problems in some places but it is not Hell. For the same reason I think you have seen the news media in China change dramatically in the last twenty years with so many more newspapers and publications than before. They learn things from their American counterparts. On TV and in newspapers these days you have the prisoner abuse and other crises, so that is average people who get this kind of – like I was there in 1998 for the whole Monica Lewinsky. So when you have been exposed to this for four months, you think why do Americans care about this single issue? Ordinary people think, oh, what kind of country is this, you know? If you depend entirely upon news media to understand the country, that’s a dangerous thing to do.
Chairman Barrett: Are there other sources?
Mr. Chen Weihua: Of course. Books and documentaries are examples of other sources. I think the most important, from my experience, is people contact. I have stayed with African American professors, and at farms in Minnesota, and when you get in touch with the diversity of American families and other elements of American society, then you understand what Americans think – ordinary Americans, liberals, conservatives, whatever.
Commissioner Bagley: You all are more sophisticated, but for the average person who has not studied the United States or been to the United States, is it their opinion, do you think, that what the Bush administration says equals the views of all Americans? That Americans overall are in favor of the war in Iraq or are in favor of Israel over Palestine? Are the policies of this administration reflective of the American people as a whole? In other words, do the Chinese people make a distinction between the two or do Chinese people by and large now think of Americans as arrogant, just as you said, or unilateral? If not, is there a way we can make this distinction?
Chairman Barrett: By a show of hands, how many of you people think that the people of China perceive that whatever the President thinks is pretty much a reflection of the people. (All showed hands.)
And do you want to develop that?
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I think that this point has raised very important questions but I don’t believe that such kinds of issues can be very easily solved. Yes, for those people with a higher educative background, we know better of those chaotic practices than the average people in the streets, but that does not mean that we fellows would be more sympathetic towards the result of your policies. I think the issue makers and the average people sometimes share commonalities when they deal with the United States in that they are more concerned about the result than the process though they know the process is much more complicated. For Chinese, I think we are more concerned about those policies that are directly relevant to China’s core elements, and we pay less attention to those policies that are only relevant to our peripheral interests or less to our core. That is the way we perceive the US way of behavior. Let us say we oppose your war against Iraq. I think China still does not follow the throngs, and Russia tried to veto those resolutions on the war in Iraq. But the problem is that when those policies or issues are directed toward China’s whole interest, which I think, will jeopardize the legitimacy of the government itself. It will arouse very strong emotions here, so this is the difference.
At the same time, when you talk about the way the Chinese note those chaotic situations, I think that there are always symmetries. The same is true for the United States, as well. I think the average American people; when you mention China, have some idea about China as a communist country – always a stereotypical image of China. I believe the same is true for the average Chinese people about the United States, as well. We think it is a free country; that they are very rich, prosperous but arrogant, or something like that. We fellows will, more often than not, appear on news programs and talk shows to discuss with average people the complicated process by which American policies are enacted. But I think it is very tough for China, too.
Commissioner Pachios: Let’s go back a little bit to the process. We could have this discussion on the table, but I want to see whether things we talked about here have any application to Chinese public opinion, particularly among the young of the United States, and so knowledge sometimes helps. Talk about the process. I worked for Lyndon Johnson. I was the Associate White House Press Secretary under Lyndon Johnson at the height of the Vietnam War. Now I am an American and my position is – it wasn’t then – is that it was a terrible mistake. That was a foreign policy mistake and a disastrous one. In our country, though, we do have – and this ought to give everyone a pretty good feeling – we have a process – this free democracy. It takes a while, but Lyndon Johnson couldn’t even run again. Most of the people who opposed him were in his own party. They were Democrats. So we have a country where restraints go on. And I will say this. You say well you Americans pay too much attention to polls. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. I would suggest to you, and I am not speaking for the American government. I am a lawyer in Portland, Maine and happen to be on this commission. If the polls can continue to show what they show now, you will see much more multilateralism in US foreign policy. There is no doubt about it because of the process of this open democracy in our country. You are going to see subtle shifts in American foreign policy between now and November. There is no question in my mind.
Chairman Barrett: Do you have a question, Commissioner?
Commissioner Sophia Aguirre: Yes, I have two questions, which actually go together. You were talking about how people have a stereotype in China; Chinese have a stereotype of the United States. Two things that have really caught my attention here are that you read between the lines and we are very vulnerable. That’s the perception. So my question is if people read between the lines, don’t they see a difference between an apology for what happened after Tiananmen square? That makes a big difference and does not speak of – or can’t people see through those things?
Mr. Chen Weihua: I think the majority will see the difference, but I think given Chinese history and the suffering we have faced throughout history that people tend to be more sophisticated in understanding all this news or input by conventional media. I think people don’t just take whatever is said in the newspaper as the final truth. Whereas in the United States, because the it is a country of two hundred years, whose people’s mindsets are relatively simple, they will believe what is right and what is wrong. In Chinese, they would say maybe it’s not right, maybe there is something behind it. I think generally there are several things the US government can do to improve its image.
1. The US government should reform its bureaucratic visa process to allow more Chinese to go to the United States to study. That is probably the easiest way to be the most effective. As you can see, once Chinese people like us have direct experience of the United States, given the fact that most students have enough intelligence to know what is going on, they can tell what is really going on. When you are living in China, not in the United States, despite the Internet, the TV or whatever, I think it is very difficult.
2. The second thing is, compared with the American Consulate here, the British Consulate right now - they have this campaign called British Consul. The government spends about ten million dollars to promote the new British image. So even though the British government was equally involved in the Iraq war, somehow the British government is trying to soften this with a lot of culture. They bring the dancing troupes, they bring the theatre, they bring the signs and everything here. I think that really softens the image toward the UK. To people like you, the UK is no longer a traditional power. It was an empire before, but now it is like a fashionable place. People enjoy their lifestyle. So this is the kind of thing the US government can do. Rather than like trying to preach that the US is a great place, I think it should be done subtly.
Commissioner Aguirre: With a focus on education.
Mr. Chen Weihua: Entirely. I think this is something that could be very good. People like you or Mr. Spelman spend time in the universities to have a direct encounter with the Chinese students, which can be very helpful. People start to really talk to people from the US government to say what is really going on. I think the more education, the more balanced view among the younger Chinese generation, I think the better the image for the US will be.
Chairman Barrett: Great. That’s great.
Commissioner Jay Snyder: I have a couple questions. But you had mentioned that the President’s apology was extraordinary. What effect did it have in regards to the photographs from Iraq? That’s my first question. And my second one is for the group of you as a whole or individually, does the Chinese press cover the fact that our country is a 50/50 country where the election was decided by 540 or 500 votes? Does that have an impression on the average Chinese person of your age?
Commissioner Pachios: Being from a different position, I was wondering if you could talk about that a bit. Is it covered? Do you people see that America is a country that has different opinions? You know, our country is very closely divided, so first of all –
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: Okay. I think Bush’s apology to the world and to the American people was excellent. Every government will make mistakes. It is impossible for them not to make mistakes. The important thing is to realize the mistake and take responsibility for it. That stands out as something very good. I think, certainly there should be an apology, but I think it is not enough because the damage is done already and I think a lot of anger around the world (some in China), comes from opposition to the war from the very beginning. I think that’s what caused the reaction to his apology.
Mr. Yu JianJun: I agree with Chen’s comments that it is an accumulation effect. At the very beginning, the American government’s rationale for the military attack towards Iraq, you are assured there is solid evidence of weapons of mass destruction. After so many years of war past, then you seem to pay less attention to that. There are discussions among your people about whether it is still important to find that evidence. I generally believe that because you think it is legitimate, it is morally correct to dismantle Saddam’s regime, so most of the American people just follow along with the ideas of the new evidence that was given by the government, and they almost forget the original or initial rationale for the military attack. But before the international audience, I don’t think there is a very quick change of mind. For Chinese people, we will think your original rationale for launching a military attack is evidence of weapons of mass destruction, so when the U.S. government didn’t find anything, we think it is trying to conceal the weapons by pretending there is something else and the prisoner abuse scandal just adds to that. So all these accumulate and just strengthen the view of arrogance and unilateralism in peoples’ minds. So it is very hard for you to just have an apology to remove all of those.
Commissioner Snyder: But do you get exposure? Does the Chinese press give time and exposure to the argument that is presently going on in the United States and the fact that we are a democracy where a large portion of the population disagrees with the Iraqi conflict and a large portion agrees with it? Is that covered? Is that something that is important to the Chinese people?
Mr. Yu JianJun: It is covered but I am not sure whether average Chinese people pay attention to it because international coverage only composes one aspect of the coverage. As fellows we have done a lot of writing on how complicated the U.S. political system is, and that there are different opinions. However, just like the American people, we pay more attention to the domestic news than we do to international news. There is too much international news and the American story is only one part of it.
Commissioner Pachios: But you are a young man and I would bet that in this country, the late 1960s, the Chinese press covered fairly thoroughly the student protests in the United States against the Vietnam War.
Mr. Chen Weihua: I really believe from his point of view, the Iraq War is important strategically. I think the Bush government is extremely shrewd in leveraging the terror event actually to launch a war in Iraq. I think for different reasons - what about the domestic economy. Iraq is the second largest oil reserve. The United States is having a lot of problems with OECD, with Saudi Arabia, which is a country with the most reserves. So it is so important for the US to continue going into the bubble with the economy going down. It is for any president extremely important. Secondly, if Iraq is done right, then the Israeli/Palestinian issue can be resolved very differently. So strategically, it is extremely important. Of course, as a government leader you cannot justify a war just based on your national interest. Now you are creating a completely different image. The problem is so many things go wrong in the process. Now you are in the end of this hole. I don’t really know how the Bush government can take care of this before John Kerry takes over the office, probably because of this – even though if John Kerry were in office, he would do the same thing. It’s a national interest and what you deal with it right now.
Chairman Barrett: Would you walk through the Israel issue just a little bit further?
Mr. Chen Weihua: Right now Israel is so isolated in the Middle East because this is the only part that is different from its neighbors. But if you can establish another democracy, which is Iraqi, and then really show the world, okay, not only Israel can work but also you have a brother, like Iraq that works, then this will create a completely different dynamic in the Middle East situation. Any president who is into the bubble when the US economy is going down the drain needs to create some stories in order to create a post-domestic continuance – we call this sustained growth-, as was the international balance of the power. Unfortunately, so many things went wrong in the process.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): For me, I think too many still cannot believe how the American soldiers treated their captives in such a cruel way. Once the soldiers did this and President Bush stood up and apologized and admitted mistakes was very good, but the most important thing is that this cannot be repeated again. People need to have the impression, you know, that this will not happen again. I know little about politics even if there is adequate news coverage in the newspapers we read for information. Also for people like me who are busy and struggling to spend time with our families, our major concern is how we can make more money in order to pay the increasing prices for housing and other goods. We don’t show much concern for things so far away from us. Also, we prefer to do something we can do to help people. We read some news about floods or about the orphanage, maybe we can do make a donation or collect some old clothes. We will talk about things like Iraq and 911 but we still feel it is such a far away thing from us.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I watch these things like Fox News and CNN. I think the coverage about this issue -
Commissioner Pachios: You watch Fox?
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I think television is similar because right now the Republicans are more on the defensive side, so you have more voices from the Democrats. You have this Kerry and the rest. But when you talk about the Chinese reaction, there are actually several Chinas I want to mention. There is one China composed of people who have not visited the US. There is the China who has had direct contact with the Americans and understand them better than the average Chinese and see the diversity, the democracy – you know Bush was elected by only a few – but that is still being discussed. The other China, the farmers, etc. maybe 70% of the 800 million farmers understand America very different from the rest of the population. So I think there is a difference when you talk about this perception.
Chairman Barrett: Can we talk for a moment on the impact of a visit to the United States? How does that change how a Chinese citizen perceives the U.S.?
Mr. Chen Weihua: You know we have Americans working on my paper all the time. What I have found is that an understanding of China always helps. While in China they see good things and they see bad things and then when they talk they make sense. When we say the Chinese are misinformed somewhat about Americans and Americans are not very well informed about China, the average American and the average Chinese do not understand each other very well.
Commissioner Pachios: Can I just add one thing? You know we have this ability in our country to get to the airways to influence people. The Chinese government could turn on television specials, etc. Let me just say that I was born in 1936. I was a child during World War-II. There were pictures and movies. Hollywood was turning out movie after movie about the Chinese people, our allies, our close friends, and I can remember as a kid seeing these movies – always brave young Chinese boys and beautiful young Chinese girls. And the image we had of China through Teddy White and Henry Luce and these movies was of this enormous closeness with the Chinese people. So images can be projected. We have a harder time in this country because of access to media and telling our story. You have an easier time if you think the American people don’t understand the Chinese. The Chinese government, I think, could do a better job of just using what is available to tell the story.
Commissioner Snyder: Grace, I would like to follow up. You said you and your friends are more concerned, and rightfully so, about the basic issues of better housing – I want to buy a new house, I want to make a better living – but let me ask you because you may be a great example of what young Chinese are thinking. Do you think of America as a diverse society that has different opinions and that we have debate internally on this issue that you see in the headlines like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea?
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): Yes. Generally speaking, we have the impression of voices way off doing things, different parties and all have different ideas. But the final decision will be finally made clear on the news page.
Commissioner Snyder: So you do see that there is diversity?
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): Yes.
Mr. Chen Weihua: Most Chinese people think America is very rich.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): Sometimes too rich. We can read stories about Bill Clinton but this kind of reading is not very good for the person or for the country. China is not so open but at least protects its leaders and I think it is also a good way to build up an image of the country. I think there should be some real things to read but sometimes there are not many. People try in a totally different way, so the media really plays a very important role in this kind of thing.
Mr. Chen Weihua: I disagree totally. I think we should have such as man!
Chairman Barrett: And let the reader decide, is that the idea?
Mr. Chen Weihua: Yes. We report. You decide.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): Yes, but for people with doubts, how can people choose such a president for the country for four years –
Ambassador Bagley: Twice, not just once. Are we talking about Clinton or Bush?
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): I am talking about Clinton.
Ambassador Bagley: You all were talking about various issues of the current administration. I’m not going to go back to fight these battles, but obviously I voted for Clinton twice not George Bush. I would argue that this administration has disregarded to a great extent the United Nations and other institutions vis-à-vis Iraq. The attacks of 9/11 really did happen, and though they were not an excuse for going into Iraq, they did happen and they had an incredible effect on the psyche of the American people. If you look at the polls, even though people are now beginning to come out against the occupation, they still see this president as being strong on terrorists. So there is a disconnect here. One of the reasons Administration wanted to go into Iraq was because they believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and a link to Al-Qaida, neither of which, of course, has come to pass. But, the American people did believe that. Now they still believe that terrorism is a major concern and that this administration is stronger on terrorism than a John Kerry administration would be. I guess my real question is after the attacks of 9/11, do you see a difference Chinese opinion towards the United States, if there is a difference? In other words, I would argue that we had an amazing worldwide sense of empathy and sympathy for what we as American people went through on 9/11 and that this administration squandered a lot of good will. Can you tell us whether the Chinese did have that feeling or did feel that empathy? If so, what happened? Or did they think we deserved this or whatever?
Mr. Haisong Tang: Personally, I used to work in that Twin Towers for months and our friends are buried there so it is a very personal event for me. If you really think very objectively, terrorism is another kind of warfare. It is not a convention. It is warfare. Historically, I think the United States has been convinced it is invincible. Neither WWI nor WWII was fought on United States land. So this was the first time the U.S. lost its own people on its own land just by a few planes, which was unthinkable for the US. But think about what is happening worldwide regardless of New York. Think about what is happening in Sudan, what is happening in Russia and other parts of the world, the number of people who are dying every day because of hunger and everything else. Just think about it – they were all friends of the US government. They were supported by the US government, but somehow they turned against the US government. Obviously as a Chinese, we don’t like that type of terrorism attack. If you really look objectively, yes, we had casualties. But think about the Vietnam War, think of all the wars and how many people we lost and are losing every single day. And then I think you have to look at the proportions of what the US has done or that this administration has done. I think it is wrong. I think somehow Afghanistan is being accepted by people like us, but going after Iraq was a little too far, and an excuse for your own issues.
Chairman Barrett: So you are saying initially you were sympathetic?
Mr. Chen Weihua: I am still sympathetic for people losing their life. The coverage of the 9/11 attacks is far from the worst – think of the people dying in Africa. Before the U.S. paid any attention to people dying in Africa, whether from AIDS or starvation, no. There was not enough news coverage. So take a step back and look at the events objectively.
Commissioner Pachios: I agree. There is a difference, too, because New York is the world. That’s an attack on the world. That’s why the world paid so much attention. The whole world is in New York City.
Chairman Barrett: I’m not sure we all think that. I think Shanghai would argue that it is comparable.
Commissioner Pachios: No, what I mean to say is New York is inhabited by a huge number of people who do not speak English as a first language. They come from all over the world. How many Chinese people do you find in New York City? Tens of thousands. So that is why the world focuses on New York.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: Still, I think this is an American point of view. I don’t think people living in New York City think of it as the world. No. Sorry.
Commissioner Pachios: I’m amazed at that because most people who speak English in New York City can’t get a taxi.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: Unfortunately, I don’t think most people think that way. Somehow this fact has been ignored by most people.
Chairman Barrett: Most people in New York are Americans, but there is a heavy sprinkling in New York of people from all over the world. However, there is also a heavy sprinkling in Shanghai of people from all over the world, and I don’t think that New York should be perceived as singular in its international composition and makeup.
Commissioner Aguirre: Okay, I have a more practical question here. You mentioned culture and education as a means to reach Chinese people and expose them to what the United States really is. We are the first power in the world but we have limited resources. You talk about the two Chinas we have, it is not three, right? So my question to you is which one is the most important one to reach to have the highest impact? In economic terms, what is the most efficient use of resources? Which one of the three Chinas do we need to target, our culture and educational efforts?
Mr. Haisong Tang: I have a very practical suggestion: it’s online games. The U.S. government can commission an electronics company to create on-line games, like Sim City, on America Online or another content provider and target the younger generation. Don’t even target our generation. Our generation is too old. We have already formed our own opinions about the United States. The target for improving any government’s image is among teenagers from the age of 15 to the age of 25. The on-line game is a very unique Chinese issue. I mean Internet space. I am working mostly for the government to create a digital entertainment industry in Shanghai. As far as I know in China, the on-like game right now is the best way for you to spread your message to teenagers.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): And you call that culture and education?
Mr. Haisong Tang: Unfortunately, it is.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): I think continued broadcasting of Voice of America, especially the English program, would be the best way to reach Chinese people because most of the English learners here, the fresh students in the university will listen to VOA. In the very beginning, they will listen to the special English, and then they will listen to the standard English speech to improve their English. Because language and culture are linked closely, if you learn the language and the flow of the language, you will learn the culture. Also, it is true in America. Every Englishman will listen to improve their English.
Chairman Barrett: That’s very important.
Mr. Yu JianJun: The problem, is that teenagers in China now have too much love for America because America is materialistic. It is not rational. In China today, teenagers dream of going to America not to experience American values there, but just because America is so prosperous. I think the most important aspect is American ideas, the systems and the American values. They can understand American values and they can cherish American values. They just know that America is so rich.
Commissioner Snyder: How many people are on the Internet now in China from the age of about 18-20?
Mr. Haisong Tang: It’s incredible. I gave a speech in Seoul last week on what we call a new digital cultural revolution. China is going to have 450 million, twice the population of the United States, ten times the population of South Korea. China is going to have 200 million Internet users and the market is still growing. That’s the point. This revolution is starting from the bottom, not starting from the top down as occurred in the 1960s. My company is involved in picking a platform for teenagers age 15 to 25. We continue to hear that they don’t have time to watch as much TV as they did in the past. They don’t play games at home even if they have a program. They play games on PC like Internet Café. Eighty percent of the high school student population in Shanghai has mobile phones. They don’t call each other. They send messages to each other – text messages, SMS. The technology is about ten years old and many parents provide their children with it. This medium is going to influence the teenage generation in China. Asia, in particular, I think Korea and China are far more technologically advanced in this manner than Europe and Japan.
Commissioner Pachios: What does that mean for the openness of information? For instance, there are limitations. The government puts on access to the Internet; that is, the type of things you can access.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Interestingly, the Internet became such a success in China because it lacked government regulation. It is much easier for the government to moderate conventional media like China Daily. However, with the Internet and SMS, I have access to CNN regardless of China’s blockage. You can go to Process Over, so I go to Yahoo first and from Yahoo I can get to any site I want.
Commissioner Snyder: I think this is commonly known among students. Maybe not the parents.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Their parents are more sophisticated than we are, actually. Teenagers are still the best in adopting technology. Some of the best programmers are teenagers, not people over 20. So I think this is very pragmatic for the United States. If you have limited resources, for example the American Consulate and American Embassy, target teenagers. Forget about people our age. Our age is done. I am 36. Our perception of the United States is already set. Target the teenagers to promote a positive image.
Chairman Barrett: This is really great information.
Mr. Haisong Tang: It is very unique to China.
Chairman Barrett: SMS is growing in Europe more than the US, and in China more computers are sold than telephones.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes. This month the most successful company in China is not a published company. It is a company called QQ. It is an intermessenger tool. What they did, I think, is copy it from Israel and they took it to China and made it into mobile QQ. In China, we have a hundred mini mobile phones on line at the same time.
Commissioner Pachios: What is SMS?
Mr. Haisong Tang: Short messaging system. Mobile chips, fingertip size, in which I can store two movies, 2 gigabytes. In the near future a mobile phone will be able to also be an MP3 player. It is already happening in Korea. By the end of this year, you will be able to buy mobile phones with the MP3 function.
Commissioner Snyder: They now have streaming video on cell phones.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Already? Korea is the most advanced but they are too small.
Commissioner Aguirre: You stated 80% in Shanghai have telephones. How many do they use in Beijing and West China?
Mr. Haisong Tang: We cover 17 different provinces in our business. Shandong itself has 50 million. In China, we have… Shanghai is not big. Shandong Province is second to the largest -
Comissioner Aguirre: Yes, yes I know, but you have much more technology in other places. That is why I am asking you questions.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Forget about percentage. In China, if you look at any measurement, forget percentage. Percentage-wise, it is very misleading information. Look at total number of users. I think this everywhere, even in the countryside, because in the country right now the best technology to use is not fixed line. Fixed line is too expensive. In the countryside, people are buying mobile phones. So with mobile phones, mobile technology will be the way. I think it will be one of the most profound things in –
Consul Doug Spelman: Two weeks ago I went to the northwest corner of Vietnam Province, in southwest China. It’s right on the border. We took a six-hour bus trip off to a beautiful lake. Bang. Turn it on. Full coverage.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I used T-Mobile in the United States. It was very frustrating. The US is, I think, at least five years behind.
Commissioner Snyder: Here in China it is only on three hours a day.
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes, we are leapfrogging a lot in US technology sites.
Chairman Barrett: It is a great discussion because in many ways, China’s population,
China’s growth, China’s projectory should be thinking about the role swapping that might be taking place between the United States and China. And the United States isn’t too anxious to make that two swap of roles, but I would imagine that is in the sights of China and its trajectory is all very probable. So when you are in the role of having the rest of the world look to China and say how come you are doing things that way, and here are the mistakes you have made and you shouldn’t have. What are the things that you see now that we are doing that would admonish your government not to do when they are or happen to be in a world leadership role when they are called hegemon. So in many ways, you are there just by count and by technology, yet the US by perception is the hegemon by your perception. But let’s think through what you would be advising your government in a swapped role if that were to take place. Any thoughts?
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: You mean we advise the Chinese government? I think China should keep its system here and not adopt a credit system. It is not going to work in China. It would be paramount for our society’s stability. We have such a different cultural background and diverse population. I think it is unwise to adopt a pure democratic system. Eighty percent of people here, my parents, they don’t really care about freedom of speech, they don’t care about democracy. They care more about do they have enough food, the healthcare system. China is still a developing country despite the fact there are cities like Shanghai. It is very obscure. Shanghai itself is not typical China. If you go to the central part of China – there are five or six different Chinas. I think the government should slow down economic growth so as not to create a bubble economy. As long as you can create about 6-7% GNP growth, it’s healthy. But at 10%, you are going to run into a lot of problems.
Secondly, we have to take care of the markets that are very much linked to the financial system, like the equity market, etc., the balance system in China. With the economy growing, the government needs to solve the issue of disparity between the poor and rich. I think the disparity is getting worse and worse, which is going to create a lot of social instability. While the society is still very stable, we need to create a social net, you know, the worker net, to help the poor people. I think the wealthy people need to learn how to contribute back to society. The government needs to do more to create more middle class and less poor people. Then the society will be stable. Afterwards, then you can talk about other things. I think this will probably take another twenty years, at least.
Mr. Yu JianJun: Maybe one of the lessons for the Chinese government is learned from America’s hegemon in the past. I think first and foremost is how to remove or mitigate concerns and fear by those laboring countries about the rise of China and the propensity of pursuing China’s national interest at the expense of those regional and international interests. The Chinese government has already pursued giant studies called The Peaceful Rise Strategies, which means that we will try our utmost to maximize China’s overlapping parochial and international interests. We should avoid those problems that will put China’s interests at the top at the expense of others. In that context, China has reached agreements with our neighboring countries, and we have reached the Code of Conduct in managing those islands and areas disputes, and we have also accepted international institutions such as the WTO and various other institutions to show that China’s national security can be maintained within the framework of multilateral institutions. It means that we are willing to accept the strength of multilateral institutions. This is what I call a reassurance policy to reassure others that we are not going to challenge or revolutionarily change the status quo. We are willing to work with others. I think this is one of the lessons to be learned. In essence, we should adopt self-restraint. Power does not mean you polarize the security on these ventures. We should realize the limitation of power. This is the lesson I think China can learn from the United States.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: As the only superpower, America gets all the attention whether good or bad. I think that’s nature. People tend to pay attention to number one. I think America uses checks and balances. I think a multi-polar system works better than checks and balances. Unilateralism will not be very effective in that kind of a world.
Mr. Yu JianJun: I think there are different understandings in our leadership. In America, leadership means organized and managed. In China, we always understand leadership as luring. As for hegemony, in Chinese the translation would be not a good word. I know in America, hegemony is a very good word.
Chairman Barrett: I think hegemon is generally disparaging. You would prefer not to have China perceived as hegemon?
Mr. Haisong Tang: Yes because we have different leadership they just cannot be the one who will organize things together, manage the power and these things. The second point I want to make is that before taking actions, the government consults with the Chinese government. The Chinese government does not have much faith. Also, it is our Chinese tradition, if you just cannot wait to show your respect, if you just take actions and don’t tell me, then it is not showing respect to me.
Chairman Barrett: This is very helpful. I know we have concluded the amount of time allocated and we are very appreciative that you have taken so much time. I wonder if we have covered all of the things you would have liked to have discussed. For me, and I think for the panel, it has been very helpful. Now Tre’ you haven’t had a chance to get a question in here, maybe because I didn’t see you from the corner of my eye. Okay, then I wonder if there are any concluding comments you would like to make, and we thank you very much for your time. Is there anything further you would like to be sure we get on the table in this discussion? We are very interested in any advice or insights you have on how the US can better handle their role in the world?
Mr. Yu JianJun: First, just the logistics of our visa. A lot more Chinese students like to go to America. When Chinese students come back from America, they always bring back newspaper articles that tell a lot about America. They always say good words about America, so rich, so democratic and free. For me, I want to study there but I don’t want to live there. I want to come back to China. But I want to learn, and I think it would be very good for America to allow more Chinese students to study there. The second thing, I think culture is very important. The Chinese culture has its uniqueness with its respect. We have many things that are rich with culture, so I think America can have more insight into Chinese culture to better understand the Chinese people. The third thing is to not take China as an enemy who has no potential because that will harm the Chinese people. It’s just my personal opinion, but I think it is proper to take China as a friend and to treat China as a friend so you will have better interaction and not a vicious cycle.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you very much and let me say that one of the reasons we are here (and this one of our very first trips as a commission out of the United States – we have only been to Mexico and to London before coming here as a commission) is out of great respect for you and for China. We also recognize how very closely tied our cultures, our economies, and in very many ways every American is tied to China whether they know it or not. They are wearing China. They are dialing China. Many Americans don’t know that but it is very important to the United States, a very close cooperative, competitive in a healthy way but not competitive in an adversarial way relationship with China. So I just want to say that our presence here is some reflection of our esteem for a valued partner in ever so many ways. So that is something to comport with what you have said about how America should feel. In our small way, we are a reflection of that. Thank you.
Mr. Haisong Tang: From a pure point of view, I would suggest with limited resources really for the US government to think about leverage the media platform to target a much younger generation for the PR effect, basically starting from age 15 high school students to age 25 college students. The most effective way is online games. And I think in the long run the United States will benefit greatly if you can portray a very objective view of the United States, not like a paradise or like hell. It would be great PR for the US government.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you, and your insights have been extremely appreciated.
Miss Yang BingBing (Grace): For me, I think mutual understanding between two countries is very important, especially in other cultures. People in China, especially young people, have good interest in American culture. They read books about America. They watch American films. They listen to American music. They gain a better understanding of the American way of life and culture through these activities. On the other side, people in the States, if they need to make some decision about China or if they need to have anything to do with China, if they can have a better understanding about the Chinese way of living and thinking and the people living here, it is better for them in making that decision.
Chairman Barrett: Thank you. Absolutely.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I am just wondering. I know that most of the Congressmen are more concerned about their parochial interests; I just wondered how you evaluate your interests along the change of mentality of those Congressmen when promoting a bill.
Chairman Barrett: This commission has a direct input to Secretary Powell, and he has been especially attentive to this commission. As I understand it, no Secretary of State since George Schultz gave as much attention and personal time to this commission as the current secretary, but that is not Congress. On Congress, I don’t want to overstate it, but we have seen some glimmers of hope that there too, there is a special interest in public diplomacy generally and to this commission, in particular. Not long ago, Commissioner Pachios and Commissioner Evers testified before Congress. It is not routine that this commission is asked to testify. But, we have been asked, also, on budget issues, which is not routinely done. So maybe we see some attention that had not previously been paid. And while you only asked about Congress and I mentioned the State Department, let me also mention that the White House has been giving deserved attention to the concerns that have been raised with the new Office of Global Communication and new instrumentation for taking a greater interest in public diplomacy.
I don’t offer you the illusion that all is well and it’s going to all be fixed. But, we are especially attentive to the visa issue that you raised. We met with Secretary Powell in March. Within a week, he had a letter and editorial opinion in the Wall Street Journal and a letter co-signed by Secretary Ridge to the United States Congress addressing this issue. We don’t want to overstate it but it is our duty to work from facts and data and real information. This sort of open discussion, your forthright conversation is especially important to us so that we can make valid recommendations and make these recommendations with the strength of understanding. By being here and hearing you at this U.S. Consulate in Shanghai some ways U.S. government property or close to it, but in Shanghai we learn a lot by being here and by having such candid and direct insights as you have been kind enough to offer. So we hope to earn some respect. We have no expectations that it will be overwhelming but we are going to work to continue to build. So we hope your time is well spent. We have been taking notes. I think some of your insights may appear in Congressional testimony. Any other comments or questions?
Mr. Chen Weihua: I think that with regard to how you use your power, I think you should emphasize soft power rather than hard power. And also be realistic about your soft powers. A professor once mentioned that soft power means commercial groups, Hollywood movies, Coca-Cola, Nikes, etc. However, I think even those average people who like Coca-Cola and Hollywood movies, hate Americans in their political way of thinking. They don’t want to copy the United States. They don’t want the United States to impose its values upon them. I think the U.S. should have a good evaluation of the soft politics.
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I just want to ask what kind of people you want to reach to inform them. I think, in addition to what I mentioned before regarding people to people contact, I would bring more American teachers here, artists maybe, more Chinese students to America. But what is important, because of the unique political system here, is that the people who make decisions here - the decision makers, the officials, the media people like us, probably decide what is going to be on the news tomorrow about America. And so their direct understanding about your country is very important. So the U.S. must further strive to ensure that these decision makers belong to that small group who understand America.
Chairman Barrett: Do you see any great opportunity in that regard? Is there something we should be doing?
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I think you should be engaging the media.
Ambassador Bagley: And we are missing that opportunity somehow?
Mr. Chen Dongxiao: I think, of course, the Public Affairs Officers here are doing work in the area but I think by being the U.S. or part of the American people, when I say I am pro-American that does not mean 100%. You are American and you don’t support 100% of what the White House is doing. I am Chinese and I don’t support 100%. But that’s good. You understand it. You understand this more objectively and I think that is the most important thing. I remember an earlier party in the U.S. Consulate about a group of editorial group from US newspapers, and these people who write editorials, maybe on China but never visited China, and I basically think it is ridiculous. If you never visited China, you can’t comment. I think I was interviewed for this nice fellowship at Stanford University. I was so excited, but the people doing the interview had never been to China and were still scared about this starving China. I assured them that everything was all right. I’ve never been to Africa but I don’t think if I went there I would get AIDS tomorrow. You know, it is that kind of thinking.
Chairman Barrett: Ignorance breeds fear doesn’t it. Well, thank you all. Will you join me in a hand of respect and appreciation? Nicely done. With that, we will conclude this official part of the meeting. Thank you for the fabulous insights and opportunity.