N O T E S
Cover:NCUSCRPresidentStephen Orlinswith then VicePresident Xi Jinping at aNationalCommittee co-hosted event inWashington,D.C. in January 2012
Forty five years ago as a high school senior, I stoodon street corners handing out literature for SenatorRobert F. Kennedy’s run for president. I listened to himquote Shaw and say, “Some see things as they are andsay why, I dream things that never were and say whynot.” I believed that his vision would bring a prosper-ous and peaceful America.Last February I stood with Chinese President Xi Jinping - he was then vice president - at a luncheon andI experienced a new kind of Chinese leader. I presentedhim with a photo album of his father’s 1980 Americanvisit hosted by our organization. The photos showed aChinese delegation of provincial governors and partysecretaries, led by his father, visiting the United Statesright after the historic “opening” of China and eager tounderstand the American dream as they met with lead-ers and ordinary Americans across the United States.Rather than simply saying thanks and putting thebook aside, he opened it and we discussed eachpicture. He told me who each Chinese leader was,asked where the pictures were taken and who eachAmerican was. It was unscripted, human, extended farbeyond the allocated time and showed a Chineseleader willing to expose his human side. Today whenPresident Xi speaks of his “Chinese dream,” I’mreminded of that time 45 years ago when RFK talkedabout that dream. Like RFK, President Xi dreams ofpoverty alleviation, national rejuvenation, and freedomfrom corruption.His message is to not repeat the mistakes of history,to not allow historic great power rivalries to dictate ourfuture. This weekend, when President Obama meetsPresident Xi in California, they will have the firstopportunity to define that concept together and see ifthey can dream things that never were and ask whynot.We have already begun to see the outlines of Xi’sChina dream. On the domestic front, Premier LiKeqiang, in a speech delivered to senior party leaders,committed to an aggressive agenda for economicreform, pledging to reduce government involvementin the economy and allowing market forces to play agreater role in guiding economic growth and increas-ing investment and innovation.The National Development and ReformCommission proposed an absolute cap on greenhousegas emissions, as well as a cap on coal consumption.Additionally, Xi’s elevation of substance over form, hisdecision to follow in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping’s1992 Southern trip by visiting Shenzhen (whichrelaunched economic reform), and his anti-corruptiondrive, all combine to demonstrate his commitment toreform.Internationally, China is becoming the responsiblestakeholder that Robert Zoellick called for in his speechbefore our National Committee in 2005. Unequivocalstatements that a denuclearized Korean peninsula isChina’s first priority, vastly improved military-to-military relations between our countries, commitmentto establish standards for cyber hacking and progresson long-stalled discussions regarding diligence byauditors on Chinese listed companies show progresson issues long stalled.Xi’s dream is about reform, and Obama should doall that he can do to help him achieve the reform heseeks. As a first step, Obama and Xi should announcethe commencement of negotiations for a free tradeagreement with a three-year deadline for conclusion. Just as WTO accession helped Jiang Zemin and ZhuRongji reform China, a free trade pact would do thesame, as well as add jobs here in America.They should also enliven the negotiations for abilateral investment treaty and set a one-year deadlinefor completion. Bilateral investment will play anincreasingly important role in this new great powerrelationship. To jump start a major Chinese investmentin the U.S., Obama should also pledge to authorizeexports of shale gas to China. Construction of theterminals and extraction of the gas will createAmerican jobs, reduce China’s reliance on importedenergy and coal, reduce China’s CO2 emissions, andimprove its environment.The protection of intellectual property must be a toppriority in a new great power relationship because bothsides require it. In order to achieve an innovation soci-ety, China knows it must protect intellectual property.For the United States, theft of its citizen’s intellectualproperty makes it difficult to believe that China iscommitted to a truly new relationship. The presidentsshould establish a bilateral task force to agree onspecific policies that will ensure greater protection forintellectual property.Finally, the presidents should announce thatObama will visit China within the next twelve monthsand during that visit he will directly address theChinese people about his vision of the future forAmerica and U.S.-China relations. Let the two presi-dents lay the foundation for this new great powerrelationship and dream things that never were and askwhy not.
Adapted from an op-ed published in
June 7, 2013
A Message from the President
America and China’s Dream