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Ditch empty talk and do something concrete, urges C100

China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-05-09 11:12
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Action speaks louder than words.

The expressions most frequently cited at the Committee of 100 (C100) annual conference, which was held in Silicon Valley on May 5, were bridge-building, candid dialogue and working together between China and the United States.

The US' claimed trade deficit with China of $350 billion has been one of the top concerns among Americans regarding the China-US relationship, according to a survey sponsored by C100 in 2017.

Meanwhile, a majority of those surveyed agreed that trade with China, now the second-largest trade partner of the US, has benefited the US general public and created many local jobs.

With current tensions escalating about a trade war or new "cold war" between the two countries, leaders from academia, business and politics across the Pacific Ocean unanimously voice hope that the two governments will solve problems through dialogue.

"I'm very upset about the backlash and a possible downward spiral," said Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California-San Diego, at a panel discussion, emphasizing there is a lack of a "China hand" in US President Donald Trump's trade delegation that went to Beijing last week.

She also said, "There is a danger regarding the US overreaction (towards China's tech advancement and investment in the US)."

"We gather because we believe in the possibility of bridge-building - engagement is intrinsically worthwhile," said Frank Wu, president of C100, about the organization's purpose. "We promote good relations as well as promote our civil engagement in all aspects of life here."

In his opening keynote speech on May 5, former assistant secretary of defense and ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman said, "Sino-American relations are a matter of great importance to all in our country, and especially to Americans of Chinese heritage. A candid discussion of the deterioration of those relations and its implications could hardly be more timely."

In opposition to the Trump administration's current strategy of "fight - to confront China both militarily and economically," Freeman believes "there are many reasons for the United States to seek cooperative relations with a rising China."

The world and both countries have much to gain from such a relationship, he said, adding a return to Sino-American enmity will endanger both peoples as well as others.

"Few would disagree that the way Americans and Chinese handle our interactions, including our disagreements, will determine the course of world history," he cautioned.

While US politicians are engaging in a tug of war with China, doers in Silicon Valley and other parts of the US concentrate on "the things they are really good at" - technical entrepreneurship and innovation with their Chinese counterparts, he said.

"You can hardly define a company in Silicon Valley as a US company or a Chinese company," said Mohammad Khan, chief operating officer at international law firm Chugh. "The founder might be an American, while the co-founders might be Chinese and the engineering team is a combination of Chinese, Indians and Caucasians."

As the interdependency and technical divergence are facts, it would be better (for governments) to invest in something real that will help in the long term, like China's Belt and Road Initiative, according to Fan Gang, director of research at the China Reform Foundation.

US companies will be eligible for infrastructural support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, as long as the United States applies to be a member, said Jin Liquan, inaugural president of AIIB.

"We want to make sure American companies will be treated fairly in international business contracts," Jin said.

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