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.
Andrew Evans: We are going to talk with Dr. Sheng-Wei Wang of China-U.S. Friendship Exchange, a noted U.S.-China relations expert and we have a lot of great questions for her. We would love to have you call in and ask questions, because the China-U.S. relationship in the 21st century is huge, I mean, it is huge already like trade issues, security issues, things of that nature, plus a lot of cooperation. Of course, there are things we do not agree on, but there are a lot we do. And it is going to be important for us to have peaceful relations with China. I think they are peaceful relations and it is essential. I am a firm believer and the American Centrist Party also believes that China and America can cooperate on so many issues, hopefully bringing a more peaceful 21st century. If China and the United States cooperate on economic issues, environmental issues, we can bring unprecedented prosperity not only to our two great nations but also to the world. You know I am not talking about world gouging or something like that. I am talking about a peaceful world and a more prosperous world. Ultimately that is what we all want, we all want to live in peace and hopefully have as much prosperity as possible.
Now let us go ahead and take a look at some foreign policy: the U.S.-India nuclear deal. This is something we have talked about in the past and we are also going to talk with Dr. Wang about U.S.-China relations, because India and China are the two most populous nations on the Earth and India is the largest democracy on the Earth. And we are going to talk about that China is actually getting very friendly with Pakistan. Of course, India and Pakistan generally hate each other and they are both nuclear-armed nations. Hopefully there can be some cooperation there. The House voted overwhelmingly to approve the landmark pact that would allow the U.S. to provide nuclear materials to India. The deal still faces major obstacles in the Senate making prospects uncertain for passage before President Bush leaves office in January. Senate majority leader Harry Reed of Nevada said the Senate will vote on the accord in the week ahead, possibly Monday. The House approved the measure 298 to 117 without debate in an unusual Saturday session. The accord finished the three decades U.S. policy by shifting atomic fuels to India in turn for international atomic inspections of Indian civilian reactors. Supporters say it will bring the Indian atomic program under close scrutiny, critics say it will boost the Indian nuclear arsenal and spark an arms race in South Asia, which is unfortunately very possible. And what is really interesting about this is something that has been going on for a long, long time and this is really sad, because this could lead to problems. What interests American business is that supporters warned Congress that American business is losing other countries' multibillion nuclear market. This is really a dangerous road we are going down. Ultimately there will be a cost to this to say the least.
I believe we have Dr. Sheng-Wei Wang on the line. We are going to talk about U.S.-China relations. Are you there?
Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes.
Andrew Evans: Excellent. We are glad to have you on the Center Lane with us. What time is it in Hong Kong?
Sheng-Wei Wang: It is 10:30 in the morning of October 3.
Andrew Evans: We are happy that you call in. This is something we have been looking forward to for a long, long time. You know we were just mentioning the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal that has just got approved by the House of Representatives. And you know that this is something we have discussed back and forth that we want to talk about. What is your take on that, namely the possibility of getting approved and the potential ramifications of it in South Asia?
Sheng-Wei Wang: I think the move on the U.S. side, actually the U.S. initiated this, is somewhat worrisome. Because we should know that India is the country which has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and it has successfully tested the nuclear bomb in 1974. The U.S. has been against India's nuclear development. However since 2005, the Bush administration began relaxing that. Now it comes with a package assisting India with nuclear energy. It appears to be a peaceful collaboration. However it really sets a very bad example for the next step: what do we do with North Korea and Iran? And how about other countries that have nuclear capabilities, but have not signed the treaty? I do hope the package is truly moving in the peaceful direction. However, everyone knows that once you have nuclear fuels, especially India which has the nuclear capability, they can easily be used to make nuclear weapons.
Andrew Evans: Definitely, this is something I personally have been following for a while and I found it very troublesome. I think the Bush administration has grossly underestimated the fact that India has successfully tested nuclear weapons and they have not signed the nuclear treaty. I think the Bush administration thought: Oh well, India is a democracy, and we should support them. Unfortunately, the Bush administration tries to push this through, maybe wishing to pump up India as a counterbalance to China. You know I have mentioned that American Centrist Party (ACP) supports China and we need to work with China as much as possible to have peaceful cooperation. The last thing we need in Asia is an arms race. We are going to talk a little later about how China is now looking towards working with Pakistan, also on potential nuclear issues. Pakistan and India have fought several wars over the past decades. This is something that I think can blow up in our faces. I do not like the direction where it is going.
Sheng-Wei Wang: I totally agree with you. The Bush administration has made, at least in its foreign policy, many missteps. And I think even before his departure, I would not say it is an atomic bomb, but something like that which has created a similar impact in the Asian community. Just yesterday, or the day before, Australia was talking about increasing its military capabilities as well. Knowing that the U.S.-India nuclear package is going to stimulate a weapon race in the Asian area, it is really a negative sign. And the international community is thinking that maybe we should set up another organization to strictly abide by the nuclear nonproliferation guidelines. We should strictly enforce that. We will not always let the U.S. take this kind of unilateral action. After all, the United States does not have the complete discretion to decide who should have nuclear capabilities and who should not. It is up to the international community to decide how we want to shape our world, so we can have more peace and more stability.
Andrew Evans: Exactly. You know I am very much for America and of course America always comes first. But when it comes to nuclear weapons, you know, in a way, think about it, they have helped preventing wars. You know in the Cold War I was always afraid who will attack first, the Soviets or America? But the negative thing is if nuclear weapons are ever unleashed like atomic weapons on Japan in World War II, the advanced nuclear weapons, if they are unleashed now, that is it. I mean we are done, the whole world is done for it. So it is really not a positive sign.
Sheng-Wei Wang: It is true. I think it is true in the Cold War era that both America and the Soviets had so many nuclear weapons that they did know the consequence of having a nuclear war after the Second World War. But now if the nuclear weapons or nuclear technology go to some other countries, or smaller countries, or even into terrorists' hands, then it is a real worry. That is what I am really worried about. Because bigger countries will have more concerns that they cannot have a war like that, but for the terrorists, may be they do not care about anything.
Andrew Evans: Yes, they do not care. They want to either just wipe somebody off or ... Of course, everybody else does not think like they do. So it is definitely unfortunate.
Dr. Wang, go ahead and tell us a bit about yourself, your experiences and China-U.S. relations.
Sheng-Wei Wang: I was born in Taiwan and majored in Chemistry in my university years. After I earned my university degree I came to the U.S. as a graduate student. I earned my Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California in the field of Theoretical Chemical Physics. Then I spent a number of years doing academic research at Caltech, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and became a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. I also went to Munich and spent two years at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Munich to do research work. One of my research directors was Professor Gerhard Ertl who received the 2007 Nobel Chemistry Prize.
Andrew Evans: Well Ah.
Sheng-Wei Wang: Recalling 30 years ago we were working together, I am very proud of that experience with him. So I spent the first 15-16 years of my years in the U.S. as a scientist. But since I was a child, I was always concerned with social issues and the social aspects of our world and hoped that I could do something for the people. So after fulfilling most of my personal life goals, I wanted to broaden my horizon and decided to take a completely different direction. But in order to be financially totally independent, I decided to first become a real estate developer in California. I had a number of good years and achieved my financial independence, and decided to retire from the real estate development in 1999. Then I spent a few years very relaxed and did whatever I wanted to do. In 2004, I started to pay attention to Taiwan's political situation. That year, Taiwan had presidential elections and on the eve of the Election Day there was this shooting incident, which was mysterious and drew a lot of outcries.
Andrew Evans: I heard about that.
Sheng-Wei Wang: Due to the shooting incident, the incumbent Chen Shui-bian got a lot of sympathy votes and was re-elected as the president for the next term. But there were a lot of scandals in that shooting incident, for example, there were these two bullets, how did one wound him and how did it stay inside his clothes for 2 hours without falling out, etc. This was an unbelievable story. I was still not politically inclined and never joined any political activities. But I just used my physics background and analyzed the shooting incident to answer questions like whether the incident could actually have taken place on the street, etc. I made my analysis, with computer drawing, and explained it in very simple terms and called the U.S. State Department asking to make a presentation. I did not represent any party in Taiwan, but just wanted to present a scientist's view. The Taiwan Desk accepted my request and I went to D.C. and made my presentation. I hoped this clarified the situation and helped to calm down the political turmoil in Taiwan at that time.
After that, I began to think hard, really think hard; as a Chinese, a Taiwanese, a Chinese American, what my responsibility was in the society and what I could do. I knew the American society well, I had been in Europe, I traveled a lot, I grew up in Taiwan, and my parents came from the mainland of China.
Andrew Evans: That is the citizen of the world.
Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes, with all these backgrounds, I thought I should be able to do something. I insisted on writing in English and speaking English as often as possible and talking with Americans, because we had to go out and present our viewpoint, to let American people understand what the cross-strait situation was, what confronted the China-U.S. relations at that time and what we could do. The main thing is to guarantee world peace and a stable society to achieve prosperity. At least we need a good environment to do so. That is my background.
Andrew Evans: Exactly, definitely, you have quite a background. So, my friend, also a good friend of mine and an American Centrist Party member David Gergen, I am sure would love to talk to you about some basic stuff. I am sure he wants to talk with you about that. Basically your interest here is what led you to start the China-U.S. Friendship Exchange, correct?
Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes, that was in 2006. You know, after I started my political activities in 2004, the first thing I did was to translate a Chinese book, the title is The Future that Makes Us Tremble. The book details how the Democratic Progressive Party, the DPP, at the time Chen Shui-bian was the DPP Chairman, got the power. Basically it was a review of Taiwan's political movement. Then I translated another book that analyzes the shooting incident. The title is Was the President Shot? After these two books, I began to understand more about the Taiwan-China issue. Then I started to translate a book entitled "One Country, Two Systems" in Taiwan. This idea was proposed by Deng Xiaoping. Things have gone through several stages: the Civil War of China restarted in the 1940s and resulted in the country splitting into two parts; then bombing continued in the 1950s; that was the worst moment; then China's policy changed from military liberation of Taiwan to peaceful liberation of Taiwan to peaceful coexistence and to "one country, two systems" proposed by Deng Xiaoping.
Andrew Evans: That was done with Hong Kong, "one country, two systems"?
Sheng-Wei Wang: Yes, that was done in Hong Kong and Macau and has achieved quite a degree of success. That is why you can see that Hong Kong and Macau have a quite good economy now. And people here (Hong Kong) are quite optimistic about their own status as a springboard for China leaping into the world as well as their own strength in helping China to progress more. It is a very successful system and ingenious. It was proposed by Deng Xiaoping to be used with Taiwan. However, Taiwan's resistance and the independence movement have delayed that process. So it was instead only applied to Hong Kong and Macau.
Andrew Evans: Certainly, it was a big concern when Hong Kong and Macau were handed over to China how the economy would react over "communist rule." The economy has been very successful.
Sheng-Wei Wang: Initially people were so afraid, you know, about the "red horror" or "red scare." So many people emigrated to Canada or other places. Then they came back.
Andrew Evans: Good, they came back. That is good to hear. That will go well for the China-Taiwan relations. It also shows that even under the communist system, it may lead to greater personal freedom in China. Economic freedoms and prosperity hopefully will lead to more personal freedom in China.
You wrote a book. We have a list on Amazon.com and your website: China's Ascendancy: Opportunity or Threat? It seems good, it seems very well. I have not read it yet. I mean to get it after the show. So I am going online and will buy it myself. Tell us a little bit about the book and what really inspired you to write it and what your goals are with the book.
Sheng-Wei Wang: In the past 4 years while I was engaged in my political activities, I read a lot of reports in the U.S. Whenever they wrote about China, very often, they referred to China as a threat and pointed out different negative aspects of China. I just tried to find out the reasons. Even though I was born in Taiwan, I only heard about the mainland of China from my parents. For me, I had great curiosity. I wanted to understand what is happening in China: Is it a threat? Apparently, it is rising, but is it a threat or an opportunity? I wanted to find out the answer myself. Because of my professional background as a scientist, whenever I have a question, I want to find the answer. So I used my independent research experience and read many articles. Every day I started to work from 7 AM and watched TV reports. I read a lot of Chinese, American and European articles, etc. So I decided to publish the findings I had. Basically the conclusion is to rebut the China threat theory, because I do not think it stands on a sound foundation.
Andrew Evans: I agree with you. You look at China's history, China is a very internal nation. They are not terribly aggressive towards other nations. In addition to what I understand, of course, the United States and China do not agree on a lot of things, but I think there are a lot of things we are having in common. One thing I want to ask you regarding the war on terrorism is that I noticed that there were some Muslim separatist attacks in Beijing prior to the Olympics. As China continues in a way going out to the world community, do you see more of a problem that China has to deal with its separatists or some...?
Sheng-Wei Wang: I think this may be the last attempt for the Tibetan separatists or independence movement to find the great opportunity to give a loud voice and to show their existence. But I think that basically this was done by the Tibetan exile government. I do not think most Tibetan people in China are opposing the Chinese government. We know that the Tibetan society had the serfdom system and most people did not own anything. About 95% of the Tibetans were just serfs. Only 5% owned everything and they were the monks, the noble families or the special class. So it was a very bad social system. That was why, when China liberated Tibet, these people escaped and went to India or Nepal and set up an exile government in India that included the Dalai Lama. They have never given up their attempt of keeping their privileges. And then with the financial assistance and political support of the CIA, Britain and some European nations, it formed some kind of force actually against the Chinese government. I think they have been going in the wrong direction, because, for the sake of the Tibetans, I think they should not seek separation from China or autonomy in China. That will only make them more backward. And the next thing is, I think, religion and political power should be separated.
Andrew Evans: Definitely.
Sheng-Wei Wang: Because religion and politics in a society should serve different functions. I hope the leaders in the Tibetan exile government understand this. If they want to have a future, they first should have the wisdom to understand what kind of role they should play to benefit the Tibetan people rather than themselves, or their own selfishness. These are the recommendations I would like to give to the Tibetan exile government.