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Interview Addresses U.S. Meeting Challenges in Its World Role and Relations with China (II)
Guest Sheng-Wei Wang Interviewer Andrew Evans
December 1, 2008


Transcript adapted from the audio file produced by www.blogtalkradio.com/centerlane, which records live interview of Dr. Sheng-Wei Wang, President of the China-U.S. Friendship Exchange, by Andrew Evans, Chairman of the American Centrist Party (ACP), in the ACP Center Lane Internet Radio Show on 10/02/2008. The broadcast replayed on 10/03/2008 2:00 AM EST.  The ACP is a third-party in the United States that is established in 40 states.

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Andrew Evans: Definitely that sounds like it makes sense. Especially I have never been a big fan of violence, nor do I think most people in the world are, whether it is big or small or ultimately the Muslim extremes attacking here, Muslim extremes attacking China or the violent protests during the Olympics. You mentioned religion and politics; you know of course, that religion and politics play a huge role in America as well. What is great, and why it needs to be separated to have freedom of religion here in America, is you choose the worship you do out of your own heart. You are not forced to by your government. You are not compelled to. And that is one of the big reasons why the American Centrist Party supports separation of religion and government. Basically our morals are not based on someone else. It got to be a personal choice.

 

We got a question here from an email, which is good.  The question is from Ron Myer. I know Ron. He is an American Centrist Party member in Nebraska. And the question he asks, actually a similar question I want to ask you, is: What do the Chinese people think of America overall? What do you have to say, a positive view or a negative view?

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: This is such a big and broad question and there are different aspects to it. I have been thinking hard on this question when it was first mentioned to me. I can use one word to describe it, but the trend is changing still. I would say the Chinese people on the whole "admire" the American people. I think this is something very positive. And this admiration was based on all the things that the American government has done since the Second World War. It has set up a lot of organizations to help the poor, a lot of humanistic actions. But then I want to bring in the next, negative aspect. America is changing. And the change starts from the government. Ever since the Bush government and even earlier the Reagan government, Reaganomics only cared about free market and no regulations.

 

Andrew Evans: This is what we are trying to help now.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes. So this good impression is changing. What I am saying is that America is gradually or even abruptly losing its soft power. The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, even the India-U.S. nuclear pact and everything this government has been doing are hurting and eroding this positive image. I would like to say that American people are generally very nice people, open minded, always willing to offer help. I once had a flat tire on the road. A young man just came and helped me. Last time I stopped by Chicago on my way to Washington D.C. to attend the new book ceremony of my book at the Library of Congress, I was lost in the airport and did not know where my gate was. It is a very big airport. And a young man came to me, held my bag, accompanied me and sent me to the doorway of the gate, all this and many, many nice things. But it created such a contradiction between these nice people and the government and a complex image. The government is very aggressive, a warmonger government, and these nice people look so innocent. So where is the gap? Apparently the new presidential election is trying to close the gap, right? 

 

Andrew Evans: Well, it will definitely be interesting though. The American Centrist Party thinks our governmental system is broken. Economically we have become so irresponsible, we have become addicted to debt, our system is no longer serving the needs and desire of the American people. But that is the special interest. Of course, no government is perfect, no nation is perfect. America is not perfect, China is not perfect. I honestly believe Americans in their heart want to do the right thing. They want to be helpful, be kind.  

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes.

 

Andrew Evans: You know our government has a lot of faults to it. But I do think we have a good system and that we can change things. But the problem is the Republicans and the Democrats have got this stranglehold for monopoly where it is hard for voices like ACP, it is hard for voices like the libertarians, it is hard for constitutional party to put them out there where they can make a difference to change. What is interesting is I read a lot of reports that the Arab world on the whole admires and believes in American values. The problems they have are the Bush administration and the current policy, but they admire the freedom the Americans have. I agree with you that we wasted a lot of goodwill. Americans believe we need to defend ourselves, but we also have to be careful. We have to try to work with other nations. Never put our security second, but we have to work with other nations to avoid a new arms race, to avoid suspicion. We see Venezuela is trying to work against us. I think these things the Bush administration has messed up and we need to again try to take our leadership in the world. And it is kind hard for us to say to China: Hey China, you guys may do this, when we might not be doing that, especially economically. We have been talking to China: Hey you guys should float your currency, you need to do this, and you need to do that. But then look at our own financial house, it is causing the whole world to go down along with ours. It is going to affect China, Japan and it is going to affect Europe and other nations.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: It is already hurting many countries.

 

Andrew Evans: This is definitely something we need to work on. Talking about economy, in my opinion, there are 3 e's: economy, environment and energy; all of course are related. One thing the American Centrist Party supports the U.S. is for growing economies like China and even India to help them along the path to eventually free themselves from the fossil fuel economy. Do you think this is a good idea and can it work? What is your take on this?

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Sure. I think Americans should not wonder whether it will work or not. In the economy-energy issue, my suggestion is: do not question too much, just go and work. Because, when you work that is the first step. Once you have done that first step, then you will be at the next step. And you do not have to question or worry about the second step before you have done that first step. Because you know, clearly China and India are among the poorest countries in the world. I mean India has the most populous poor population in the world and China is the second. America is the superpower and the richest country in the world. I am not sure about the richest at this moment, I have some doubt. But still America has a very efficient system and high technology. So every American should take this as his or her own responsibility to help out. If you own a company then just ask the question: can I do something or do some business in China or India to help out? Bigger companies can do more, but even a single person can do a lot already.

 

Andrew Evans: Oh yes. We ought to start from individuals to get involved. You know, it does not seem to help much that we need a comprehensive energy policy to get that taken care of.  If America gets rid of fossil fuel energy, but countries like India and China get their growth based on a fossil fuel economy, mathematically it does not make sense. Now here is one great economy giving up fossil, but the two rising ones are not. It all comes back to cooperation.

 

You mentioned the poverty in so many places of the world, like India and China; of course, their economies are growing, especially China's. But what can China do to help make sure that their economic prosperity reaches as many citizens as possible? What can it do definitely to make that happen?

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Well, I think China has actually done a lot. Ever since China opened its door during the past 30 years, it has lifted about 300 million people out of poverty according to a World Bank report. Everything is relative. Maybe from American people's viewpoint, the Chinese people are still quite poor in terms of GDP per capita, etc. But look at China's own history when the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, the country really had nothing, really nothing. Maybe if you went to the poor countryside, some girls did not even have pants to wear. And immediately after that there was the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 and China had to give away its people's lives to this war. Then Mao's economic plans did not work. So by 1978 China's economy completely collapsed. That was why Deng Xiaoping started the "open door" policy. It has been quite successful so far.

 

This may be a side story: I recently acquired a property in China. It is called the Yunmeng Vacation Villa or Village in Henan Province. It is the most populous province in China, but it is considered lagging in its modernization, because it is a big agricultural province.  Before I went there, I heard stories like AIDS in some counties and I heard about all the bad things in that province. But after I visited there, now it is about my 6th or 7th time, I feel that a lot of things are not true. I was in this small city and acquired this property. I want to develop it as an East-West meeting place. I wish that we do not look down on our ability as too small and cannot do much and wait for the government, wait for the mayor, or wait for somebody else. If we just wait, perhaps we will die before we get anything done. So just on the individual basis, we are altogether. I wish to make this a meeting place. Pretty soon I am going to advertise this place on my website which is www.ChinaUSFriendship.com. I am going to introduce this place. I hope it will be the model for all the overseas citizens or organizations that would be interested in going there, apart from its beautiful scenery, either as voluntary teachers to teach the Chinese people to speak better English or to have the real experience to speak English with Americans. Let the Chinese people in the countryside see some Americans; they have never seen Americans, they may have seen Americans in movies. Many of them have never tasted Western or American food, and do not know what pizza is. I would like to start these very personal, very basic-level contacts to show how Chinese and American people can exchange friendship.  

 

Andrew Evans: That is a wonderful thing you are doing. Ultimately, that is how friendship comes about. It comes from a personal basis and then grows from there to a bigger level and bigger level, and even grows to a governmental level. It starts from a basic human to human interaction. I think that is a great idea.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Right, I have been a scientist and would say this interaction is at the "atomic" level, or using a political term, the "grassroots" level. 

 

Andrew Evans: Right, that is where it comes from, the grassroots.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: I wish it mushrooms into a gigantic force. Because when we talk about government, it often appears to be a cold institution with a huge building and serious politicians wearing stern looks. This is inhuman. I think Chinese and Americans should start by shaking hands, hugging each other, eating food together, drinking tea or coffee together. Then all the stones will disappear and they will become friends.

 

Andrew Evans: This shows the sharing of humanity. I have done traveling myself. Most recently I have been down to the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago. From where I traveled, regardless of what your religion is, regardless of what you think and your upbringing, the thing that I have learned is everybody wants to be able to live in peace, live how they want to live as much as possible, be able to take care of their family, and try to prosper. Those are the things all of us share in common. We all have different dreams, but we have to focus on what we have in common. And like you said building those accesses and like you mentioned with regards to energy just starting to do it. I think our government and all governments can learn. Build on successes at the basic level, because once cooperation is formed, you can build on that. The sky is the limit, it really is.

 

One question I want to ask you is:  with regard to economics, what should America learn from China's economic growth, because China learned a lot from America growth? What lesson should America learn from China growth? 

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes. The current financial meltdown in the U.S. is only the tip of the iceberg. In my opinion, there are much deeper and more fundamental problems in the U.S. financial system. But because the U.S. is the only country that can print the greenbacks, this has somehow covered up or sheltered part of the American financial problem. When I say that, what I mean is that the American economic hole is so deep but it has kind of forced the rest of the world to cover that hole with other people's help.

 

Andrew Evans: Yes, you just said it.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: What are America's problems? First, America's GDP per capita is over 40,000 U.S. dollars. And China's is only over 2,000 U.S. dollars. So Americans should be able to enjoy a very good life, by the Chinese standard. That is why Chinese people admire Americans for their material wealth at least. What went wrong was that while American people earn some 40,000 U.S. dollars, they want to live a lifestyle of 400,000 dollars or even 4 million dollars. You make enough, but you want more. That is greed and that is material zest.

 

Andrew Evans: That is true. That is not only on the personal level that we spend, spend and spend, we borrow, borrow and borrow. Our government also borrowed, borrowed and borrowed, and then spent, spent and spent.  There has to be a stop. We have to live within our means.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Right. So Americans have lived out of their means. And of course, with this, they have no savings. Second, American wages and salaries are so high, although many Americans complain that they could not afford this and that, but when you compare their earnings with China's, theirs are so high. So when you make products, how can you sell these high-priced products? There have been questions like we shipped manufacturing jobs to China and so on, should we ship them back to the U.S.? No. You cannot. Because if you bring back these jobs, can you make these goods with the very competitive "China price"? No way.

 

Andrew Evans: No, not now.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: No, you cannot reverse it.

 

Andrew Evans: No. The American Centrist Party supports lowering our business tax or even going into a sales tax repealing, and reducing income tax. Take those taxes off businesses so that people have more money in their pockets to try to bring those businesses back to America. Ultimately we talk about the free market, we want to support American businesses that want to stay in America. But when you come down to plain economics, you know, we want cheap goods; we want high quality, but cheap goods. And how it is right now, you know, a lot of American companies at least in the manufacturing sector, cannot compete with China.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: And also regarding the economy I like to point out, first of all, that America should position its trade or economic direction correctly. There is no point to compete with China or India on lower-end products, because China and India have huge populations. It is not a winning game for the U.S.

 

Andrew Evans: That is what we have been saying we should focus on our higher technology, our higher-end products. And really I can see a great symbiotic relationship, I do not know whether you are familiar with the book The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Oh, yes.

 

Andrew Evans: An excellent book. He pointed out some things that are good, some things that are not. But one thing I definitely agree on is America can provide a kind of high-end technology, a kind of know-how to manufacture the goods, while China manufactures the goods, ships them here in America, so we buy and get a symbiotic relationship. That works for both nations.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: But American protectionism is against that. Because they consider China a potential enemy, so a lot of these high-tech products for American security reasons are not being exported to China, Intel has high-tech products, other companies have high-tech products; except in the aero-space area, I mean airplanes. Chinese people are saying: we are trying to buy American products, but how much more soy beans can we buy? Why not let us buy some medical equipment, some high technologies. This is because the American government does not want to release those technologies.

 

Andrew Evans: But then you have those pirate issues for not releasing these technologies.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Then here comes the next question. The two countries can work out the pirate issues. But now you have an immediate problem. You already have a financial hole, how are you going to get it resolved? Pirate issues may happen a few years later, or may not happen at all. By then your technology has gone to another level and you do not have to worry so much about piracy at a lower level, which you consider now as a higher level technology. In a few years time, when China is able to pirate those products, they are no longer the newest generation; it is already the lower technology. So America should always move one or two steps ahead, should always concentrate on technology development. Only that can save America. Because we are living in this globalization world...

 

Andrew Evans: Globalization is here. That is what the American Centrist Party has been telling people: we of course always put the American economy first, but globalization is here whether we like it or not. You can have someone in the basement in China with good access, say for example, graphic design that can compete with a firm in Chicago. They can do that now. That is how the economy is now, it is like a new industrial revolution. Ultimately that is one of our big things: that is our education. America has been falling behind in education. And this is one of our huge issues. What we have really tried hard to hang our heads out as American Centrist Party is education. If we do not educate our children, if we do not retrain our workers, our tax base will eventually suffer because our children will not get good jobs, they will not be able to compete with kids in China or India. And of course funding for programs will suffer. It is a cycle. In America, I think, we have the innovation, the spirit, and we can fix it. But we need to realize that globalization is here. It is not going anywhere. It is basically a new industrial revolution. It is exactly what it is. Time has changed. A hundred years ago most of us were farmers, but we managed to survive through that. We have to be adaptable.

 

Under the current situation, do you think most Americans view China as a threat or a potential enemy?

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Well, when you ask the American people openly, maybe they say not. But when you view all the publications or news reports, it is not difficult to get the impression that something is wrong with China and some criticisms about China. I would think that there are still quite a number of American people who view China as an enemy, which I consider foolish. If you consider China as an enemy, you should rather consider Japan as an enemy. Because Japan really has much superior technology and much determination to show its strength to the world; it happened once before. If we try to label everybody as an enemy, then, do we have friends? Do we want to be just a loner at the top? Or do we want to have war with whomever we do not like? And that is the third point of my answer to your question on the U.S. financial problem and that is to stop wars. America is consuming a lot of its resources including young men and women's lives into something useless and hurting itself by having wars everywhere. Instead of patiently talking or even getting along with the terrorists, America would just blow you with bombs, kill the bad people as well as many more good people.

 

Andrew Evans: Exactly. That is what people start to think of America. One thing that is going on in this presidential election that you hear is for example Barack Obama wants to negotiate and talk with nations that might be hostile to us. John McCain is not in favor of that. We, the American Centrist Party, think that we need to talk with these people. Of course, there should be some conditions, like give and take from both sides. But it is not weakness to show that you desire peace. You know, come up with the model that I have: hope for the best, prepare for the worst. But it is not weakness to show that you desire peace. We need to make sure, especially regarding the war in Iraq, many people asked have we really used all our diplomatic options?  With Iran, are we using all our diplomatic options?  We need to show that we desire peace. And hopefully that can lead to peaceful resolutions. But if it does not, it not only shows to Americans, but also to the world that we honestly tried.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Also, I may want to say that for many of these problems or the terrorist problems, the American government planted the seed of these problems. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein once was supported by the U.S. government. Today, with Pakistan terrorists or the Taliban, America once needed them to fight against the Soviet Union. But now they are enemies of the U.S.  So American people have to close the door and think why, what was the problem? And the problems were planted by the American government itself. So only the people who planted the problem can resolve it. The rest is superficial. No matter how many bombs you drop in Afghanistan, the problem is not there. The problem lies in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. Over all these years, the problem accumulated. Now it is entangled to the extent that you do not know what is right and what is wrong. So America should go back to the very beginning and examine what has caused it and untie it. This is hard to do. But it may be easier to do now than later, and eventually must be done. You cannot afford to have wars when you have mountainous debts like that.  Maybe this time you can ask China or the Middle East countries to help. But what if China also becomes poor for whatever reason?

 

Andrew Evans: What happens then, what happens then? ...

 

It looks like our time is up. There are two last questions that I want to ask you. It has been great. I want to have you come back, because there are so many issues that we can go through

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Thank you.

 

Andrew Evans: We definitely would like you to come back to our Center Lane. I will get in touch with you about that. The two last questions I have are: ultimately where do you think America should stand and what can we do in regards to the Chinese-Taiwanese relationship? Where should America stand and what path will be most productive for America and for all parties involved?

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Again this falls into the category of wars or interventions that America got involved throughout the world, the Taiwan issue is among them. China is one of only two countries in the world (the other is North and South Korea) that cannot be united. China is becoming more and more important on the international platform. This problem will have to be resolved eventually. Now China, of course, wants to solve it peacefully, although it has never renounced the use of the non-peaceful approach.  Actually, the cross-strait mainland and Taiwan have never signed any peace agreement. Strictly speaking, they are still at war. North and South Korea have signed a cease-fire agreement, not a peace agreement. The Chinese situation is even worse: nothing has been signed between the two governments. Strictly speaking any side can start a war. But of course, China would not be foolishly starting an attack. This is actually a Chinese internal problem. But there has been so much influence of the U.S. and to some great extent of Japan as well, and this has to be untied, as long as China is growing and as long as it is not ignoring this problem. In fact all the Chinese military build up is targeted at the Taiwan issue. In case the U.S. wants to interfere with the unification task, China wants to have the capability to deter it. So this will have to be resolved eventually. But before the curtain falls, I think, the United States has to think very hard, does it still want to keep the Taiwan Relations Act, and does it still want to sell weapons to Taiwan to keep a horror balance? These are questions for the American scholars and politicians to think hard about. If we want to enhance China-U.S. relations, the Taiwan issue is the core issue, and the bottleneck problem.

 

Andrew Evans: Looks like our time is up. I want to thank you again Dr. Sheng-Wei Wang. We would definitely have you coming back in the future.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Thank you very much.

 

Andrew Evans: Thank you. You take care. Bye Bye.

 

Sheng-Wei Wang: Thank you and thank the audience. Bye.

 

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Born in Taiwan, Sheng-Wei Wang is a renowned scholar, author, entrepreneur and political activist. She has a Ph.D. in theoretical chemical physics from the University of Southern California. In 2006 she founded the China-U.S. Friendship Exchange Inc. to promote understanding and cooperation between China and the United States. Her book China's Ascendancy: Opportunity or Threat? on China's growing influence around the world and its relationship with the U.S. has received good reviews (http://www.createspace.
com/3339581 or http://www.amazon.
com). She is based in Hong Kong.
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