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Advice for Hillary (if she wins): Assign Bill to China

By Paul Welitzkin in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-09-19 12:56

If Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential election, a longtime China observer said that she should send a high-profile emissary to the mainland to chart a new course for Sino-American relations - her husband, Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States.

"Hillary should send Bill to work on the relationship with the US," said Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society. "Bill has the stature to get China's attention, plus the Chinese would know that he has a direct line to Hillary. His appointment would signal respect for the relationship."

Schell made his comments on Sept 15 at the Asia Society in New York during a panel discussion on The US, China and 2016 Vote. Also on the panel was Winston Lord, a former US ambassador to China and another longtime China watcher, and author Emily Parker, a fellow at the New American Foundation, who served as moderator.

Neither Lord nor Schell expressed enthusiasm for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. "Nobody knows what our China policy would be like under Trump including Trump himself," Lord said. "He is incoherent and uninformed. All he has talked about China has been tariffs and starting a trade war."

Asked if he would serve as an adviser to Trump on China if the candidate requested it, Schell said, "I don't like to associate with such people."

He said Trump "is so unpredictable he could surprise. But unpredictability can be a danger in foreign affairs".

Parker, who wrote Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, said that the internet has had a "transformative effect on China".

Parker said US brands of education and health care are well respected in China. "Look at how many Chinese come here to study and also to receive medical treatment," she said.

Parker said that China is beginning to build brands that could penetrate the global market like American companies, and she singled out mobile-phone maker Xiaomi and internet giant Tencent as "strong brands in Asia".

Lord said the gridlock and polarization infiltrating the US political system is starting to seep into foreign policy. "If we can't get together it will hurt our policy," he said.

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