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Washington DC Peace & Security Forum

Washington DC Forum: China as a Partner for Economic and Political Stability

 The UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs in Washington hosted a forum on “The Role of China as a Partner for Economic and Political Stability in Asia and the World,” on March 26, 2014. Moderated by Ralph E. Winnie, Jr., Director of the Eurasia Center’s China Program, Washington-based experts, friends of UPF, and Ambassadors for Peace dialogued about the current situation and made several important conclusions: (1) The need to impress upon larger educated public opinion and policymakers in countries around the world, the necessity for the U.S. and its allies of building relationships with the PRC based on partnerships for economic, financial and political stability of the international system of which China is an integral part. (2) The recognition that trust is the basis for any relationship. Cooperative trust-building activities on the regional and international levels are to be encouraged between the U.S. and China. The goal is to reach a win-win relationship for all parties, not a zero-sum game. (3) China is the world’s second largest economy. This reality cannot be ignored. The U.S. and its allies would be wise to pursue partnership with China. Confrontation must be avoided, not only for the sake of stability of the domestic economies of China, the U.S., and its allies, but also because the stability of the global economic and financial system depends on Chinese cooperation. The international system must be kept stable. (4) Ways must be found to work together making a case with China of the necessity not only on the part of the US and other countries but of China’s own responsibility in sustaining world peace and world prosperity by promoting mutual trust, good will and cooperation in the interest of all humanity.

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The forum attendees were welcomed by Dr. Antonio Betancourt, Director, Office of Peace and Security Affairs-Washington, DC. “In examining the role of China as a partner for economic and political stability in Asia and the world, we need to accept certain realities. China is the world’s second largest economy, and the United States is China’s second largest trading partner. China’s economy is embedded not only in the economy of the U.S. but also in the economies of most countries around the world. Consequently, the Chinese economy exerts a major influence on Asia’s regional and global stability in both geopolitical terms and regarding the international economic and financial system."

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“The U.S. and its allies pursue partnership as well as competition with China. However, confrontation must be avoided at all costs, not only for the sake of stability of the domestic economies of China, the U.S., and its allies, but also because the stability of the global economic system depends on Chinese cooperation with the U.S. and its allies. None of them can afford to destabilize the international system.”

Against such a backdrop, Dr. Betancourt asked how should the U.S. and its allies deal with China? Can they rely on China to be a partner for economic and political stability in the region and world? Can China be invited into a lasting partnership with a shared responsibility for stability in Asia and the world, linking its own interests with the larger interests of the world community, given that they have a huge stake in keeping the world stable and at peace, and since they are global partners in trade investments and economic development?

Ralph Winnie, the moderator, and Director of the Eurasia Center’s China Program opened the discussion by reflecting on his many years of experience in China and the importance of developing a personal and professional relationship based on trust and mutual respect. The China mindset is people-based and there is a high value placed on face-to-face contact.

Mr. Winnie also explained the challenge of dealing with the Chinese generation gap. The older citizens were brought up under communism and still have memories of war and deprivation. That older generation grew up under an oppressive government and its intrusion into all areas of life, particularly in the area of ownership. Under Communist rule, until the reforms of Deng Xiaoping (1904-97), all property was collectively owned by the people. That mindset has slowly changed. The young, educated Chinese have a different mindset. They are well-traveled, speak various languages, comfortable with technology, and want the fruits of their efforts. These white-collar citizens, mostly educated abroad, are the new middle class. Their numbers are staggering -- estimated at more than 300 million -- larger than the entire population of the United States.

Although the generations clash over social issues, the gap is slowly closing. Mr. Winnie shared about the high profile case of basketball star, Michael Jordan, who sued a Chinese company for illegally using his name on its products. This represents a test of their legal system’s regard for personal trademarks and protection of intellectual property. As a people-based culture rather than a law-based culture, Western investors are watching this case closely to see if the Chinese judiciary can be trusted to apply the law in a transparent modern fashion. The American Bar Association  (ABA) has been very effective in going over to China and helping to educate and train Chinese judiciary about these issues and intellectual property.

William Reed, President of Black Press International, raised the issue of China’s footprint in Africa. China is presently involved in 35 African countries, specifically in hydropower and railroads. “China has supported revolutionary movements in various countries since the 1960s,” according to Mr. Winnie. “They do some programs similar to the Israelis and host cultural programs where the Chinese would go over there and train locals and then they would bring some of them back to China for their education.” Barack Obama’s half-brother lives near Hong Kong, he said, and is married to a Chinese woman and speaks fluent Chinese.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was recently in Europe for the Nuclear Security Summit held in The Hague. While there, he met with the leader of France and signed a multi-billion industrial agreement on joint construction of civilian helicopters, purchase of Airbus planes, and construction in China of a nuclear waste reprocessing plant. This was the Chinese president’s first European tour. He also visited The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Regarding China’s investments around the world, Dr. Betancourt said: “China targets countries big and small regardless of race. What they are looking for are markets. They’re looking for resources, minerals, cash shelter, and proven corporate structures to put their money and corporations in. When we talk about the globalization of the economy – China is right in the front more than many other countries.” He pointed out that in the past few years, Chinese companies have poured billions in the UK.

Almost half of all the money invested overseas by China in recent years has been into the energy and power sector. China’s demand for energy is expected to triple by 2030 so countries with abundant natural resources will continue to attract the most money from China. Dr. Betancourt, who was born in Colombia, spoke about Chinese investments in Latin America and the Caribbean. Trade is more than $300 billion a year. In 2009, China overtook the U.S. as Brazil’s second largest trading partner. In Colombia, trade between the two countries has increased dramatically over the last decade. Last year China surpassed Venezuela to become Colombia’s second biggest trading partner.

Ambassador Mungra of Suriname to the US expressed the opinion that Russia like China should also be seen with the potential to destabilize the international system. He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent military actions in Ukraine has destabilized that whole region. The Ambassador asked: “What caused the fall of communism in 1989? It was one simple thing. All human beings are born free. We want free choice. You can put everybody in a prison but you can’t imprison the mind. Ultimately, the Communist system will change. The people will demand reform. The system lacks sustainability.”  China, he said, is being put outside of the two most important major trading blocs being established in the world. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Since China is not in these two major free-trade associations, China is moving towards France to see if that could be a backdoor to the markets.

John Kukor, former Air Force intelligence officer based in Japan, expressed concern over recent announcements that the U.S. plans to relinquish federal control over the administration of the Internet, and the possible security issues this represents.

Ambassador Mungra said the solution to the current world state of political and military tensions is “collaboration and cooperation between people, groups, and nations. As long as we talk with each other, dialogue and cooperate, we can solve these problems.”

The UPF believes, according to Dr. Betancourt: “The Chinese have to learn from America and from Europe how to live according to the rules of international engagement, and if they don’t play by the rules, then there will be consequences.” China is a nation of 1.4 billion and has a middle class of about 300 million. In fifteen years, the Chinese middle class is projected to reach 800 million.

It is critical that: “China be respected. It is important to look at China not as a junior in foreign policy. We cannot treat Russia or China or Brazil or Mexico and countries that have a certain bulk of power as juniors in foreign policy as the U.S. used to do or has been accustomed to doing. These nations have to be coached gently to show that it is in their interest to play according to international rules.”

Mr. Winnie said: “China must continue to take people out of poverty. There are large numbers of educated young people who were schooled abroad. When they come back home, their desire is to be an entrepreneur. The government figured out early on a way to keep these people happy. The way to keep them in the system is to keep them content with the government, so they offer them an entree into a circle and a network of influence where they can develop contacts to make money. This circle of influence is the Chinese Communist Party. In this way, the Communist Party found a way to multiply itself with a new generation of young entrepreneurs.”

Dr. Betancourt mentioned about problems within the system in America. “The value system needs to be reinvented because trust in the political and financial system has been eroded. Without trust nothing functions properly. Behind any transaction there is a value system.” Popular opinion says the 1.4 million bankruptcies declared five years ago is the fault of the 1 percent, the super rich, who own and control America. The UPF position, he said, is that the values that under gird our way of life should be identified as everlasting. “Universal values will give backbone to the processes – political, economic, military, not temporary changing principles.”

Amb. Mungra recounted the story of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, known as the “Father of Singapore.” He made sure that the government used good management techniques. Mr. Lee said: “If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free PRESS.” The ambassador emphasized the need for collaboration particularly in the face of a common enemy.

Regarding the issue of corruption in China, according to Mr. Winnie, they understand that “if they are perceived as a country where corruption takes place,” then foreign business will stay away. He told the story of a government official who was caught taking a bribe, but because he admitted to the infraction, instead of getting a prison sentence, or worse, he was demoted in terms of social status and prestige within the community. Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared fighting corruption and graft a priority for his administration.

Barbara Moseley-Marks, a Virginia Realtor, and coordinator for the Virginia Parents’ Day Alliance (VAPDA), focused on the moral ramifications of trust. “To solve all these different problems,” she said, “the element of trust is crucial regardless of which economic system is used.” She described it as the basis for any relationship, whether at the individual, national, and even world levels. “Trust,” she said, “means I can rely 100% on something. For example, I trust my husband, my family, and my church. God is my trust.”

Mr. Winnie, who serves as Executive Director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association, gave an example how nations can come together. When wrestling was dropped from the Summer Olympic Games, an unlikely alliance of nations came together -- USA, Cuba, Russia, China, and Iran -- to seek its reinstatement. Like the historic 1971 “ping-pong diplomacy” between China and the U.S., the sport of wrestling is a form of soft diplomacy that builds friendships and trust. It can be compared to what Michelle Obama accomplished in her recent trip to China and visit with her counterpart, Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan.

Dr. Betancourt, quoted UPF Founder, Rev. Moon, on the subject of trust. Humans have what Rev. Moon calls “fallen nature,” which is the sinful nature that came about due to the Fall of Man as told in the Bible, as opposed to “original nature,” which is humankind’s nature prior to the Fall. It is the difference between self-centeredness vs. unselfishness. He believes that with time and God’s providence, it is the destiny for all individuals and nations to live altruistically and be what the Bible says, “In the image and likeness of the Creator.”

Amb. Mungra summarized the primary issue of the forum: “The major challenge, issue or problem in today’s world is the lack of trust.”

Forum participants agreed that trust building measures for cooperation and dialogue are needed in diplomacy. In a previous generation, U.S. foreign policy was based on the balance between diplomacy and power, but in today’s world, diplomacy has been subordinated to power.

In Suriname, teachers are required to teach children to respect cultural diversity and tolerance for others who may be different. Through international exchanges and technology, cultures can come closer. “Ignorance and fear are the great enemies,” the Ambassador said.

China’s actions near the South China Sea are a cause for concern, but out of this crisis, new unlikely alliances and opportunities are emerging. Vietnam along with the Philippines wants the U.S. to come in and help resolve the situation. The Chinese are starting to get the message. We should not try to isolate or ignore them; on the contrary, the West needs China particularly to keep the government of North Korea in line. They have to be pushed gently by the international community to live according to international rules, the United Nations Charter, which protects not just the rights of individuals but the rights of nations. It is important that the U.S. and our allies sit down with China on an equal footing even if it doesn't like Chinese behavior, and likewise with Russia and even North Korea. There is a greater purpose at work here.

Minister Gupta, a former Government official from India to Afghanistan reminded the attendees that, according to Hinduism, “we should unite together and protect ourselves. There should be no hatred among ourselves. We are one family under God. We make big peace with love and affection. That is the message of UPF. If we want to win the heart of China we must give them peace. Peace comes from a heart, mind, and soul. It cannot be imposed upon anybody. There is a Hindu prayer for peace: Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. Oh God, lead us from darkness to light. Oh God, lead us from death to immortality. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.”

Rev. Moon said: “My peace plan starts from the level of the individual. First we must find peace with God, then peace with our fellowman, and finally we can secure world peace.”

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“The Role of China as a Partner for Economic and Political Stability in Asia and the World”

Host: Dr. Antonio Betancourt - Director, UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs, Washington, DC

Moderator: Ralph Winnie Jr., Director of Global Business Development and the Eurasian Business Coalition’s China Program

Attendees:

Hari Bindal - President, American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin
Dr. Ray Brogan - Adjunct Psychology Professor, Kaplan University
Jan Duplain - Embassy Liaison, Office for Trade Promotion, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Prof. Diane Falk - Research writer and editor
Min. Amar Nath Gupta – Former Government official from India to Afghanistan; and Founder, Rajdhani Mandir Hindu Temple
Ms. Sunita Gupta - Capitol Hill Hindu Temple
John Kukor – Former U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer
Barbara Mosely-Marks - Founder/Coordinator, Virginia Parents' Day Alliance
H.E. Subhas Chandra Mungra - Ambassador, Embassy of Suriname
William Reed - President, Black Press International
Dr. Mark P. Barry - Advisor, UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs (Observer)
Dr. William Selig - Deputy Director, UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs, Washington, DC

 

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