U.S.-China Policy Foundation Trip Report
Staff Delegation to China August 5 每 14, 2005
Jim B. Clarke, Chief of Staff, Rep. Diane E. Watson
A Jade stone is useless before it is processed; a man is good-for-nothing until he is educated.
The purpose of the staff delegation visit to China by the U.S. 每 China Policy Foundation (USCPF) in August 2005 was for education. However, our education began long before our trip commenced. USCPF sponsored a series of seminars and briefings on past and current China issues so we would be better informed of the history and culture of the world＊s largest country which has only recently opened to the Western world. We had an opportunity to meet with former U.S. ambassadors to China; Foreign Service officers; intelligence officers; Americans doing business and promoting business in China and representatives of the Chinese government. I wish to especially commend USCPF for the time and effort to make these resources and their expertise available to us. It was time well spent and I would encourage USCPF to make it an ongoing part of all of its sponsored trips. Many thanks also to our hosts, the Chinese People＊s Institute of Foreign Affairs and our in-country escorts, especially those un-named individuals who were willing to sing karaoke with us in Xi＊an.
This was my second trip to mainland China in less than a year. I also had the good fortune to travel with USCPF in March of 2004 to observe the presidential elections in Taiwan. As such, I was not a neophyte about China and U.S.- China issues but felt this second trip would help me to confirm or re-evaluate my earlier observations and make some new ones based on the new locations I would be visiting. In fact, this is what I wish to focus on in this report 每 the old and the new.
Beijing was our first stop as it had been in my previous trip last December. As a learned scholar once said, ※It＊s d谷j角 vu all over again.§ We stayed in the same hotel (though the surprising and ostentatious display of Christmas decorations was not present); ate at the same restaurants; shopped at the same stores (though I did miss the way the merchants grabbed you at the old Silk Alley) and visited the same Forbidden City (the Starbucks is still there), the same Tiananmen Square (though no Falun Gong protestors were observed) and the same Great Wall (though at a different and less crowded location). I also repeated visits to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had the opportunity to re-connect and exchange gifts with one of my previous escorts and repeated a visit to the U.S. Embassy, where surprisingly most of the personnel I had met with nine months earlier had been rotated out. I have great empathy for both the U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Because of the popularity and frequency of delegations to China, especially during the August recess, they appear to be giving non-stop briefings. (There were at least two other delegations in Beijing at the same time as us and one group joined us for our meetings with the U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
So all of this was very familiar and mostly reconfirmed my earlier assessments:
--China has a long and historic past which helps to shape the way it approaches current issues. Unifying the country and preventing foreign invasions.
--China has fully embraced capitalism in its economy which is on steroids in the urban Eastern cities. Over 200 million Chinese have entered the middle class though the prosperity is not evenly distributed.
--China is devouring energy at a tremendous rate which is having worldwide consequences and is impacting its foreign relations. Automobiles and air conditioners are omnipresent. Chinese officials are forming alliances with oil-rich countries in Africa and South America.
--Today＊s Chinese communism is a far cry from the Marxist-Leninism model of Mao yet it still struggles to be proactive rather than reactive. One-party governance works best to deal with China＊s immense problems but it still does not know how to react to rising nationalism or the Internet for example.
--The Taiwan-Chinese situation continues to dominate the US-China relationship but is just one of many complex issues such as intellectual property rights protections and enforcement, currency exchange, WTO commitments, market access, human and religious rights and energy consumption.
Our visit to Xi＊an provided an opportunity to explore the history and culture of China. While the emphasis was on the famous terracotta warriors and the Tang Dynasty pageantry, I was most impressed and depressed by the modern-day Xi＊an. I had an opportunity to jog around the Old City wall and was impressed by the early morning activities taking place in the various pocket parks alongside the wall. Each section had its own distinct activity 每 tai chi, sword dancing, yoga, aerobics, badminton, etc. 每 all being undertaken by mostly senior citizens. How I wished our country had such a vital and active citizenry. Maybe our health care costs would not be so high.
Part of our visit was to a local orphanage. I was particularly interested in this as my 12-year old god-daughter was adopted from a Chinese orphanage. This one, however, did not do adoptions and as a result had not benefited from the financial largess of American families. The staff was very attentive and loving to the children but sorely lacking in resources. The orphanage was located adjacent to an open air market which reeked on the stench from rotting fruit and vegetables the residue of which had polluted the lake in a once beautiful park. It was quite sad to see the squalor knowing of the opulence in the coastal cities.
But what impressed me the most was our visit to Shanghai. While Shanghai has always had a long history of involvement with the West and Western culture, it is the poster child for the modern China. Tall skyscrapers in every direction, mag-lev trains to the airport, and a football field size model of the City showing future development plans. Our group went out to the New Market area of Shanghai one night and I felt as if we were at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. There were young Chinese men and women enjoying a night on the town and all that Western culture had to offer.
In the past Shanghai was a separate city surrounded by ten rural counties. One of those was Pudong which has become a part of urban Shanghai. Another is Song Jiang or The Hope-Arising Place as described in the brochure. While a city has existed in Song Jiang (Dr. Wang lived and attended school in the Song Jiang as a child), the plans include constructing a 60 square kilometer city supporting a population of 500,000. The old city would preserve the history and culture of the area while the new city will be of European style.
Transportation access is an essential part of the future plans. The new city is adjacent to a major highway and is linked to Shanghai by railway and light rail transit.
The plan for the district has been laid out sections. There was an industrial zone, the first of its kind at a municipal level, which has attracted 400 foreign enterprises with a total investment of 5 billion USD. Within the industrial zone is an export processing zone which ranks first in China among 38 similar export processing zones. One local computer company exported 880 million USD in equipment in one year.
Another zone is an agricultural zone which runs a pollution-free farm produce demonstration project. Another zone is the science and technology zone which has become a high-tech incubator as well as the manufacturing site for the world＊s largest computer chip maker.
Most impressive, however, was the University City section. Currently there are six major universities located on site, each specializing in a particular field of study, and serving a student population of 100,000. One focuses on international studies, one on foreign trade, one on accounting, one on languages, one on engineering and science, one on politics and law, etc. The cost of tuition is subsidized by the government so that students pay about 300 USD a year to attend. Students are able to attend classes at any of the universities and can construct a personalized curriculum. How I wished we could get our act together in the U.S. and place an emphasis on education like the Chinese are doing. They really know how to make ※No Child Left Behind§ a reality.
We had a chance to tour a model home in the European Thames Village. It was a two-story Tudor style home with three-bedrooms, two baths, a modern kitchen and a two-car garage. Selling price was 500,000 USD. We were told it had increased in value three-fold in the last five years. My only regret was not visiting here five years ago.
So in conclusion, I was further impressed with the history and culture of China and came away with a greater appreciation of the country and its accomplishments, it was the future of China that left me in awe. The Chinese have a clear sense of where they are headed and what they need to do to get there that is lacking in the United States. Their emphasis on educational achievement is indicative of the seriousness of their efforts to make the 21st Century the Chinese Century.
I look forward to watching their progress with keen interest, admiration, caution and concern.