Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Saturday, Feb 13 Art Exhibit MLK Library


What: Opening reception & seminar talk of Jingui Zhang's Solo Oil Painting Exhibition

When: 1:30 p.m., Feb. 13, 2016

Where: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 2nd Floor Gallery

Address: 150 E San Bernardo St., San Jose, CA 95112

The show runs Feb. 12 - Feb. 18. Please drop by anytime during that week to view the paintings!

Transcript From 1990 Institute's Fireside Chat with American Ambassadors to China

Ambassador Jon Huntsmen, Blackberry CEO John Chen, Ambassador Gary Locke
Ambassador Huntsmen was born in Redwood City, although he grew up in Utah and became their most popular governor there. He served as ambassador to China from 2009-2011. He speaks fluent Mandarin and introduced the language to 118 schools in Utah. He adopted a daughter from China and one from India. He’s currently Chairman of the Atlantic Council, as well as the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Gary Locke was the first Chinese-American governor of Washington State, as well as the first Chinese American ambassador to China. He served in Beijing from 2011-1014.
They were asked questions by John Chen, CEO of Blackberry .
John Chen: Eight years ago when Ma Ying-Jeou was elected (as Taiwan’s president), he said that he wanted to keep the status quo.  Now I’ve been listening very carefully to Tsai-Ing Wen’s acceptance speech this weekend, and she also mentioned that she wants to keep the status quo. So I want to ask either one of you--- what is the status quo?
Jon Huntsmen: The status quo is always changing in the cross-straits dynamics. I’ve lived in Taiwan twice. I was living there in the 80s when Chiang Ching-Kuo passed away and Lee Teng-Hui rose.  The place was transformed.  I was living in Singapore, running the Embassy there in 1992 when the “1992 Consensus” –not that it was a consensus—was achieved between Wang Dao Han and Koo Chen-fu.  So I watched the trajectory of the cross-straits dynamic. It’s been very, very interesting. But I  have to say that things are happening on both sides that encourage me in the sense that they would be badly affected if we screwed up. So I’m not sure Washington is going to demand a change in the status. Beijing is not going to want to change that dynamic. We’ve established kind of a rhythm.  Meanwhile in Taiwan you’ve got a robust democracy.  People gathering and speaking out and having fun in the process. We see the rise of Tsai Ing, 57 years old, a graduate of Tai Da, Cornell, The London School of Economics. She’s a high-energy politician which plays very well these days, according to Donald Trump.  I think she’s going to have to play a very adroit balancing act keeping the Green Faction happy while at the same time embracing the strong economic relations that have made Taiwan successful. So I’m not sure what to expect short term. But I think there may be some surprises and we’re all going to have to make sure that we’re thinking of our values before we do anything over the top that might disrupt the status quo.
JC: So ,Jon, you’re feeling in general positive. I know you’ve met her. What’s your impression?
JH: The first question I asked her was about cross-strait philosophy. I could tell that unlike Chairman Su who had no cross-Strait policy and was proud of it, that she was actually giving it some serious thought, knowing full well to be successful in managing that sensitive relationship, you gotta somehow give.
JC: So, Gary, what do you think of this reasonably big mandate change in Taiwan. How do you suggest the White House and the lawmakers of the US—what do you think America should or should not do?
GL: I think they’ll continue to emphasize just how important the Taiwan-Mainland relationship is for both sides.  I mean so much of the industry and innovation in China is funded by people and companies in Taiwan. A lot of the innovation in Taiwan is manufactured in China. There’s growing tourism . There’s growing government exchange. Obviously the new president has to carve a distinct path from the previous one. She favors independence. She didn’t say when, for how long. But I think she’s going to try to set a slightly different tone while at the same time recognizing the importance of the relationship and maintaining the important political and economic ties.  Obviously we will encourage that—focusing on keeping the rhetoric down and focusing on the pragmatic relationship, understanding that she represents a party and thought that is different from the previous administration.
JC: Let me turn a little bit toward the American end. I recall in 2011-2012 about us re-pivoting or pivoting into Asia. What is the intention of our pivoting? What has happened?
GL: I think we have spent so much time in the last several decades in the Middle East—the war in Iraq, Afghanistan—we have neglected the strong countries and allies in Asia, in all of Asia. What the pivoting and rebalancing means is that we need to spend more time and attention on Asia. The Asian Pacific countries make up more than half the world’s GDP, and so it means spending more time. A lot of people in China felt that what that meant was that we were trying to contain and restrain the role of China. But actually the re-pivot—spending more time with Asia—also included more interaction with China, which included not only humanitarian, but  military exercises. We also had a lot more delegations of  high-ranking military  officials, national security officials, CIA directors, defense department secretaries all going to China, and more contact and exchange with Chinese coming to America as well. So the Pivot means just spending more time and attention and focus on Asia.
JH: Well, I would argue that we never pivoted away from Asia.  If you trace history back to 1898, we’ve had a strong presence in Asia. It’s just had a different focus. I get what the president was trying to do. It was a message loud and clear. We were really tired of engagement in the Middle East. Where do we find ourselves today? Four civil wars in the Middle East. But the message of the incoming president was that we need to focus elsewhere. So, again, I think it was Obama’s sincere desire to take the focus away from where it had been under George W Bush and really focus on a geographic region and economic area that was different—a rising power , growth-trade-investment, all that. I think it was probably inartfully rolled out in terms of how it was described. We plussed up the military side through a generation of submarine warfare.  We strengthened relations with the allies.  Marine presence in Darwin, Australia.  What’s been the biggest outcome is the Trans-pacific Partnership which has been the backbone of our engagement with the region.  Twelve nations representing 40% of the world’s GDP, which I think is probably the most significant thing we’ve done in Asia for a really long, long time. Yet to be completed. But I suspect it will be voted on sometime either during the lame duck session or the first quarter of 2017 by whomever is the new president. It’s a big deal. It’s going to have to be worked out.
GL: Let me go back to what Mr. Huntsman said. America has been in the Pacific for over 100 years. We’ve had our military there.  We of course engaged during WWII. But our diplomatic and military presence has actually provided stability and peace throughout the region for the last fifty odd years which has really enabled the region to grow as well.
JC: You pointed out that this pivoting was originally viewed as some kind of containment policy. So this whole issue in the South China Sea and the AIIB, is that anything like a reaction to this containment? 
GL: I don’t think China’s assertive position in the South China Sea—building up the shoals in the region—is in any way a reaction to the American Pivot. Nor do I think the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a reaction to that. I think it’s really a matter of China feeling its confidence.  Trying to reassert itself. Trying to overcome the humiliation that it has felt for the past hundred years. You’ve seen it already in the past years—the Beijing Olympics, putting a man into space, landing a spacecraft on the moon, and of course the economic transformation. So I don’t see these as a reaction to the pivot. And again the U.S. and China are really cooperating on a lot of military things. China has participated now –at the invitation of the US—in joint military exercises in the Pacific.  They’re working together to try to stop piracy off the coast of Africa. And they engaged in a lot of joint humanitarian exercises and relief exercises too. 
JC:  Governor Huntsman, when AIIB first came out and China extended the invitation to the U.S. and we outright rejected it. And unfortunately at that time a lot of our allies—UK, Germany, South Korea—they all joined in on the AIIB. Did we fumble the ball?
JH: Absolutely, we fumbled the ball. It was a huge strategic mistake—tactical error. We should be engaging in creating and shaping ideas and working to promote ideas in an area in which during 2010 and 2020 we’re looking at 8 trillion dollars being spent on infrastructure projects. That’s a lot of procurement that could come out of the U.S. and creates jobs. So, why we weren’t fighting for a seat at the table was a bit beyond me, and I’ve shared my thoughts with folks from the State Department. But I think it represents a broader behind-the-scenes puzzle . So there’s been a bit of a power vacuum due to a couple of things 1. America’s pre-occupation with the Middle East. And yeah, when you’re president and you’re running the National Security Council, and everything is focused on one region, it really does create a void in other parts of the world. It’s a combination of our calamities in the Middle East, the economic collapse in 2007, and the rise of Xi Jin Ping.  He hit the ground with a different vision of China’s role in the world. I think he has a very distinct sense of what that looks like. It isn’t the old. It isn’t the status quo.  I think he saw the Asian Development Bank of which the United States and China have a voting share—the U.S. is quite substantial, maybe 40% and China has maybe 3-4-5%.  The World Bank is old. The IMF is part of the post-World II configuration.  And he wanted something new. So –wham—you put a 100 billion bucks into this new thing and you get 57-60 new members who rally around it. The World Bank has 200 billion bucks ,and this has 100 billion bucks, and you’re off to the races. I think the next step will be what is done with the AIIB, which is probably the most ambitious undertaking of Xi Jin Ping’s first term.
GL: I also agree that the United States made a very big mistake in number one, not joining, and number two, opposing our—insisting our Allies not join.  I thought that whatever misgivings we had about the rules, etc, etc, it would be better if we tried to change it from the inside rather than standing outside. Safe water, transportation, everything else is in this.
JC: Let’s switch the topic to Xi Jinping. He has been in office almost four years. China is now facing some significant challenges.  Economic issues and some domestic issues. How’s President Xi Jinping doing? Is there anything we could do to help?
JH: Let’s just it’s a sensitive period. He’s got his anti-corruption campaign going. His next step will probably be to go after state enterprise and military re-organization.  So it’s a period of sensitivity. What’s really interesting—where do you find a moment that is free and clear of hyperbolic rhetoric in American politics and Chinese politics? You now have the US 2016 elections. Nothing will get done in this phase. Then you have a new president and it will take a year to ramp up.  And then you’ve got China’s version of the election. You’ll have new members of the Politburo. That will be high politics. It will be 2018 before the dust settles and rational minds prevail.  My guess is Xi Jinping will settle things down and bring anti-corruption efforts to an end somewhat and will be re-elected another five years.
GL: He certainly is a very charismatic individual with very favorable ratings from the Chinese people. He’s taken control over so many factions of the Chinese government, more than ever before.  He’s really made himself the center of all these task force initiatives –the economy, environment, anti-corruption, etc. So, in some ways all the responsibility is on his shoulders now.  If something goes wrong, he can’t really deflect it and say it is someone else’s fault. As Jon indicated, the economy is really the most important thing right now.  There’s a lot of trepidation and concern among China’s business people and everyday people . I think it’s going to be a very tough period of time.
JC: If Clinton is elected president, is there any possibility that you’ll go back and serve her administration?
GL: I’m working on Hilary’s campaign and am hoping that she’ll win. But I love working on the west coast and being in Seattle, Washington. We in Seattle call it “the real Washington.” I enjoy the slow pace, the atmosphere. It’s a great place to raise kids. I’m a policy wonk. I love fixing things. I love trying to make things more efficient—fixing the visa problems at the embassy or streamlining the pathway to citizenship from four years down to one year.  Before I took office you had to wait an hour standing in line to renew your driver’s license. I got it down to ten minutes. And since we’re the home of Microsoft, why can’t we renew things online? So, no, I may run for governor again.  But I’m staying in Seattle.
JC: Governor Huntsman, I remember when we first met , you were running for President. I guess my question is, why aren’t you running in this race?
JH: For those of you who haven’t run for president, let me just say this: it’s exhilarating, it’s exhausting, it’s humiliating, and it’s an experience that our family will never quite forget. We placed third in New Hampshire. If we’d placed second we could have gone on to South Carolina. Our heads are still spinning from four years ago.  We love this country. Our two sons have served in uniform.  There are some days that are wacky though during the primary period. This is the greatest country in the world that prides itself on the canned blue-sky optimistic spirit –and yet to see it devolve into what we’re seeing in politicians here today is just a sad commentary on a system that I love.
Guest:  What would you say is the role of Chinese-Americans in the role of US-China relations?
JC: Now, Gary, while you’re thinking about the answer—Gary here has gone on record as saying that there’s a good reason –an advantage to not being able to speak fluent Chinese as Ambassador.
GL: Jon of course has lived in Taiwan and China, and speaks fantastic Mandarin. I grew up, of course, speaking Toisan. I remember going to Hong Kong—I lived there for about four months with my father—and I spoke Toisanese, and all the Hong Kong kids laughed at me and pointed me out as a peasant. So I stopped speaking Toisanese.  When I was appointed Ambassador of China, the Chinese were very proud and happy. They expected that because of my Chinese ancestry I would take the viewpoint of China. I’m a representative of the United States of America.  So I actually thought it was a revelation and a good point that I did not speak Mandarin. When I only spoke English it reinforced to the Chinese people that, “Oh, yes, he is of Chinese ancestry, but he’s representing America and he is an American.”  I’m proud of my Chinese ancestry and I’m proud of the contribution that the Chinese have made over thousands and thousands of years, and I’m proud of the Chinese influence that my mom and dad always instilled in me growing up, but I’m also an American and proud to be an American and proud of the American values of freedom, hope, opportunity, equality and diversity. Think about it. In China, could a person of my origin and background ever rise to a high position, whether as provincial governor or mayor or even an ambassador to another country? And here in America, we have Barack Obama as the first African-American president.  I was the first Asian-American governor elected on the mainland.  So it shows that in America, all things are possible.
But the question was, what can Asian-Americans do to foster US-China relations? I think we have an opportunity to tell the rest of the people in America about China—its history, its values, its culture, its complex society. We can help the policy makers understand that they shouldn’t expect instant results. China will never be like the United States. The US will never be like China, just like it will never be like France or Germany. They have different systems, histories and cultures. And we can’t expect anything different from China. I think that we also as Chinese Americans—as the 1990 Institute has done—should reach out and help people in China, whether it’s in scholarships or development of China. I think also, if we have an opportunity to visit China, we should showcase American values and freedoms. It may not make a difference in the next five years. It may not happen in the next fifty. But that’s one thing we can bring to China as well.
JH: I tell my daughter, “You’re more important than I am. You are Chinese American and you can across cultures.” I’m appointed to go to China and they send me as Ambassador. But my daughter bridges cultures. So the point there was, “Don’t forget your origins and history while living American values.” We can talk values. But when you live the values , there’s something being said without the words being spoken.  Grace gets that. She’s now sixteen years old. She’s so proud of her heritage. But she’s proud of her American values—equality, fairness, human rights and the goodness we practice in this country. I wish we did a better job of it. Every Chinese-American can be a bridge of sorts by not forgetting their heritage that goes back 5,000 years and blending it with the values of the new world. I think that’s very powerful.
Guest:  If Joshua Wong from the 2013 Hong Kong protest were in the room with us today would he not say that Democracy in China is possible if not in our lifetime within the next whatever number of years.
GL: Obviously the Communist government is very, very strong and it still is a Communist country.  I do believe that the more that Chinese people from the mainland come to visit and experience and witness our imperfect democracy, but our diversity and the egalitarianism where a person can rise from a very poor background to become a head of a major corporation or a university president or a governor or president of the US. The more the Chinese are able to come to the U.S. to see and experience first hand, perhaps it will whet their appetite when they go back to China to want some of the same for their country, and perhaps hasten that progress and reform within China. 
I do believe that change comes slowly in China and the Chinese are so concerned about threats to the authority –the communist party. That’s why there’s a crackdown on human rights. There’s a crackdown on non-profit organizations, on the press, etc., etc.  They spend more money on public security inside China than they do on their military.  They’re worried about corruption, about another food scam or environmental problem that could unleash the people of China leading to another Tiananmen square. So the Chinese government is really cracking down on people as they go through environmental reform –but I’m hopeful that with more exposure and more people-to-people visits , people from the west going to China and Chinese visiting America and other countries, that will hasten the time needed for greater Democracy.
JH: If you were to ask the young kids in China twenty years ago who they admired most, it would have been Mao Tse Tung, Deng Xiao Ping, maybe someone else. If you ask today, I’d say the top three answers live twenty minutes down the road: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma--the innovators, the creators, the freedom-seekers. So there’s something happening with the younger generation. What will be most telling over the next couple of years will be whether or not a framework is created for them. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Great Way to Start the New Year

Often at our monthly gatherings, the focus is on the speaker--the history of this or the revolutionary qualities of that. We forget to engage with the person sitting across from us. On January 31st, thirty-eight of us gathered at China Stix for fun games, great prizes, a delicious meal--and most importantly the chance to get to know one another better. Perhaps it was the spirit of the reunion dinner that inspired us, but it felt as if we were relatives-re-uniting and catching up on what was new. We can't wait to do it again.