SOURCE: Committee of 100

April 17, 2008 22:47 ET

Leadership Is Key in This Period of Political Change, Says Committee of 100

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - April 17, 2008) - With major political transitions occurring on both sides of the Pacific, the quality of leadership will be critical to geopolitical stability, particularly as new leaders that will emerge in the U.S. and China size each other up, panelists said in a session at the Committee of 100's 17th Annual Conference. "The vulnerabilities of the U.S.-China relationship because of broad-based public concern [about China and globalization] are really quite high," said Geoffrey Garrett, President, Pacific Council on International Policy. "Somebody has got to do a better job of explaining issues to the public." Garrett noted that surveys have shown that more and more Americans have become skeptical of globalization, the benefits of which are now accepted mainly by elites who have had higher education. "Globalization is getting a bad rap in the U.S.," Garrett said.

Americans are very unhappy with the direction the U.S. is going, said Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent, National Public Radio. The negative sentiment has prompted the remaining presidential candidates to make commitments on trade and relations with China that they would be under pressure to carry through should they win office. "It's a very difficult and dicey situation rooted in discontent with the direction of our economy, our politics and the prosecution of the war in Iraq," Williams explained.

There are many potential flashpoints in the relationship between the U.S. and China, including Taiwan, the situation in Tibet, and the Olympics. Williams remarked that in the run-up to the Beijing Games, "there is growing tension in the American media, which seems to be spoiling for a fight" with the Chinese government over press access. Observed Garrett: "2008 is a difficult year in U.S.-China relations. The bar [of expectations] the Chinese have raised for the Olympics is so high. We need leadership at the moment."

Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Vice Chairman, Kissinger & Associates, observed that China's leaders are now chosen based on their performance over some years in tough positions at the provincial level. Chinese leaders are becoming better educated and their average age is falling. Meanwhile, in the U.S., presidential aspirants have to engage in politics to succeed and one of the main presidential candidates is over 70 years old. "Can the U.S. deal effectively with a China that uses a selection process that puts emphasis on ability and experience, while we use our tried and true electoral system," Roy asked. "Do we need more competence at the top of our government?" The former U.S. envoy to Beijing argued that it is crucial for leaders on both sides of the Pacific to get to know and understand each other. "It is the responsibility of leadership to know the people you have to deal with before the going gets tough."

Founded in 1989 by prominent Chinese Americans, the Committee of 100 is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit membership organization composed of Chinese American leaders in a broad range of professions. With members' knowledge and experience, the Committee is committed to a dual mission: (1) encouraging constructive relations between the U.S. and Greater China and (2) encouraging the full participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of American life.

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