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"Let’s Do It, Gary Locke": An Opportunity for China and the U.S.
By Yang Jian Translator Sheng-Wei Wang
September 1, 2011

Source: http://www.chinareviewnews.com   2011-07-31 00:17:24  


Gary Locke is coming. U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to succeed Jon Huntsman, Jr., to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. The U.S. Senate passed the nomination on July 27. Due to Locke’s Chinese ethnic background, the nomination has immediately caused a heated debate all around China and United States, and even drawn attention from other Asian countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yu Jiang said in a news conference: "We welcome Mr. Locke being nominated as the new U.S. ambassador to China. China-U.S. relations are very important and we hope that the new U.S. ambassador to China will play an active role in promoting further development of the Sino-U.S. relations.”

A Little Warmer Welcome

This time the
responses of the Chinese scholars and the media on Gary Locke’s nomination are cautiously optimistic. What is ccommendable is the calmness of most commentators. Indeed, we cannot believe that sending Locke, with his Chinese ethnic origin, to China implies that China and the U.S. will have more cooperation and no conflict. Once the high expectation is shattered by conflict in reality, the frustration generated will have even greater destructive power to the bilateral relations. This time, no matter whether the analysts are optimistic or pessimistic, they all thought that Locke’s appointment was a good move by Obama. This appointment can show some sense of closeness to China, but also help the U.S. to understand the deep-seated cultural structure behind Chinese policy. It will have the benefit of stepping up the realization of the U.S. interests through deciphering China's strategy in their game as competitors.

There is a "safety rule" for the prediction of relation development between countries. It is "safe" to make some of the worst scenario forecasts on the issue of China-U.S. relations that are competitive and even contain some hostile elements. If the relationship flourishes, you can say that it is because we had made predictions and raised questions, and those in power were vigilant to avoid deterioration of the relationship; if the relationship sours, this just proves our negative judgments. Gary Locke’s mission to China being good or bad to the Sino-U.S. relationship is such a situation. However, this kind of "safe" but pessimistic judgment would discourage us from cultivating a good trend. Since there were already many pessimistic views, I was willing to express a little warmer welcome. I am willing to make some attempts to discover new opportunities and benefits that Gary Locke’s mission to China may bring.

Let’s Do It, Gary Locke

In the
China-U.S. relations, from the 1949 "Farewell, Leighton Stuart!" to the 2011 "Let’s do it, Gary Locke," we have gone through 62 years. By sending Stuart away 62 years ago to welcoming Gary Locke today, the Chinese people's strength and mind have been ready. Americans dare to send a Chinese ambassador, so we should naturally have a greater magnanimity to welcome him.

From the time we sent away the China-born U.S. Ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart until we usher in the new Chinese-family-born U.S. ambassador to China, the world has changed greatly. The bilateral relations also have undergone tremendous structural changes. Today, the United States has made adjustments in its global strategy based on the transformation of the center of power from the West to the East. Now that East Asia has become the engine of world economic development, the United States wants to participate as an Asia-Pacific country to avoid being excluded and to exert influence in the regional political and economic trends. In this region, the United States is facing the re-calibration of two structures between developing new partnerships with emerging countries and maintaining traditional relationships with its allies. Such a kind of adjustment aims at ensuring U.S. global dominance unchallenged. The U.S. relationship with China is precisely at the core of these adjustments. Gary Locke's mission is not light.

Gary Locke Is an Opportunity for Strengthening the Interdependence of the Two Countries

In January this year, President Hu Jintao visited the United States and established the stable Sino-U.S. development framework for the next ten years. In the Sino-U.S. joint statement, more than half of the contents cover their economic and technological cooperation. The bilateral cooperation deals with problems that can be divided into three parts: 1) Sino-U.S. cooperation to deal with issues of the world economy and the structure of world economic governance; 2) Sino-U.S. consultations and negotiations to deal with bilateral economic, financial and trade issues; and 3) Sino-U.S. cooperation in strategic industries to prepare for meeting the world's next "new economy." From this point of view, Gary Locke is one of the best candidates to serve as the ambassador to China. Gary Locke has three backgrounds: first his Chinese family background, second his previous position as governor of Washington State on the U.S. west coast, which has a very high proportion of trade with China; and third his former post as U.S. Secretary of Commerce and his participation in the Sino-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue. It is certain that Gary Locke’s impact on the Sino-U.S. economic interdependence is profound, while his understanding of the Sino-U.S. competition and cooperation relationship is firsthand.

Gary Locke Is an Opportunity for the Two Countries to Share Some Values

When Obama and Hu Jintao met in the United States, they both said that the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations is a model for cooperative relations between countries that are of different cultures and different political systems. The deepened Sino-U.S. people exchanges also establish a foundation for this. Gary Locke once said: "I am proud of my Chinese ancestry, I am proud of my ancestors, proud of making contributions to the United States as ethnic Chinese, but I am one hundred percent American." So far, we are delighted to hear that the leaders of the two nations are willing to express that the two countries have common interests. But we have not heard them saying much about common values, even if they only mention a few points. In fact, we have seen that Oriental values play a role in all aspects of global governance, but the Cold War mentality is still hampering the words and deeds of politicians. As the ethnic Chinese politicians in the United States increase their importance in the political arena, we are hearing them saying that traditional Chinese values are of great help to the resolution of global problems. This is quite natural, because their thinking is itself a mixed architecture of Oriental and Western values. Their success also illustrates that the Oriental and Western values are greatly compatible. We hope that through Gary’s Locke's service, we will increasingly see and hear that both China and the U.S. are willing to express this: While China and the U.S. share common interests, they also begin to have shared values.

Good luck to Ambassador Gary Locke!

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Jian Yang is Vice President of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS).
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