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Alaina Love
Leadership author

Alaina Love

Alaina Love is co-author, with Marc Cugnon, of The Purpose Linked Organization and co-founder of Purpose Linked Consulting.

Expanding the center of all nations

Question: Americans now view China as the biggest threat to U.S. economic and military interests. What leadership advice would you give to President Hu for creating a more positive political climate for U.S.-China relations?

The context of the current relationship between the U.S. and China must be considered as a backdrop to President Hu Jintao's visit and the potential for him to demonstrate real leadership during his discussions with our government. There are mammoth differences between the two powers on a variety of levels--from total population to military investment to political philosophies, but it is important to consider the facts.

While China's population of 1.2 billion seems staggering compared to the U.S.'s 300 million, for example, there are still vast differences in the GDP of the two countries. China's GDP is less than 60 percent of the United States'. So while China is growing economically, there is much distance to be covered before ordinary citizens there will approach the living standard enjoyed by many Americans. Economists predict that between 2020 and 2027 the GDPs of both countries will equalize. That said, the real proxy for living standards is GDP per capita, which is affected by China's large population, making real GDP per capita there a mere one-quarter of that in the United States. Further, the U.S. investment in our national security and military outweighs that of China by an order of magnitude. The U.S. has more sophisticated weapons and defense experience, but China has larger numbers of troops.

So how does this context influence the likelihood of building a positive political climate between the two countries? It suggests that while China and the U.S. may not have been friends historically, the leaders of both countries should strive never to be adversaries. China's burgeoning economic growth has ushered in a new set of responsibilities that Hu Jintao and his government will be pressed to accept if they want to establish a positive working relationship with President Obama and his team. China's success will not be defined by sheer size alone or by military might. Rather, it will be characterized by the quality of the relationships China builds and nurtures. Her government will be challenged to overcome the perception that China's view of itself as "the center of all nations" precludes other countries from sharing in her economic growth or from maintaining control of their own intellectual capital.

From a leadership perspective, China and the U.S. should commit to solving the world's thorniest problems together, from nuclear proliferation to global warming to terrorism. In that regard, our interests are the same. The challenge will be to accomplish this goal while operating with markedly different philosophies of government and culture. The ability of both powers to demonstrate respect for their differences, while honoring their commitments to work collaboratively, will determine the outcome of their efforts. President Obama has often said, "We can disagree, without being disagreeable." That leadership philosophy will undoubtedly be tested in the months and years ahead.


Marc Cugnon, CEO of Purpose Linked Consulting, contributed to this post.

By Alaina Love

 |  January 18, 2011; 5:07 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Government leadership , Political leadership , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Looting intellectual property | Next: Hu Jintao's classic dilemma

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Having ignored endless entreaties from US Presidents, treasury secretaries and secretaries of State from Clinton presidency to Obama’s until now, President Hu is NOT going to heed any advice from any American on US-China relations.

China has continued its mercantilist trade policies with ever increasing trade surpluses and forex reserves ignoring all such entreaties. And US businesses are as much at fault as Chinese policies for such one way trade because they are hooked to huge profits that cheap Chinese products generate for them.

China has continued to prop up North Korean regime despite all the US entreaties against it.

China has continued to trade with Iran despite all the US entreaties against it.

US is whistling in the wind if it can advise China to bend on such issues when China has its own priorities about them. Bent on replacing US as super power, China could care less about such advice.

To use an old Rooseveltian adage, Chinese President ‘spoke softly but carried a big stick’ during his US visit.

China’s rise to super power status to challenge US is a fitting monument to the much-celebrated foresight of Nixon-Kissinger to embrace China to counter Soviet Union in 1972 just as 9/11 attacks is a fitting monument to Reagan embrace of Islamic fundamentalists to counter Soviet Union in 1980s Afghanistan.

Posted by: martymartel3 | January 22, 2011 10:04 AM
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Having ignored endless entreaties from US Presidents, treasury secretaries and secretaries of State from Clinton presidency to Obama’s until now, President Hu is NOT going to heed any advice from any American on US-China relations.

China has continued its mercantilist trade policies with ever increasing trade surpluses and forex reserves ignoring all such entreaties. And US businesses are as much at fault as Chinese policies for such one way trade because they are hooked to huge profits that cheap Chinese products generate for them.

China has continued to prop up North Korean regime despite all the US entreaties against it.

China has continued to trade with Iran despite all the US entreaties against it.

US is whistling in the wind if it can advise China to bend on such issues when China has its own priorities about them. Bent on replacing US as super power, China could care less about such advice.

To use old Rooseveltian adage, Chinese President ‘spoke softly but carried a big stick’ during his US visit.

China’s rise to super power status to challenge US is a fitting monument to the much-celebrated foresight of Nixon-Kissinger to embrace China to counter Soviet Union in 1972 just as 9/11 attacks is a fitting monument to Reagan embrace of Islamic fundamentalists to counter Soviet Union in 1980s Afghanistan.

Posted by: martymartel3 | January 22, 2011 10:02 AM
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There has been much talk this week about the "economic rivalry" between the US and China. But that term - "rivalry" - suggests that US-China economic relations is some sort of zero-sum contest. When in reality the U.S. economy can grow the most when China's economy is at its best, too.

True, there are plenty of legitimate complaints to be made about China: they don't protect intellectual property like other countries U.S. businesses operate in and they have held their currency under value. And China - just like the U.S., by the way - protects some domestic industries.

But the Sino-American economic relationship is nevertheless the opposite of a zero-sum contest. The global economy - and the U.S. economy - is on whole far richer than it would be if China's economy had never "risen." As Nobel Laureate Ed Prescott has said, "Global economic integration is the path to riches and peace."

President Obama and President Hu would do well to keep that in mind as they meet today.

http://futureofuschinatrade.com/article/china-gdp-overtake-us-gdp-2016

Posted by: FutureofUSChinaTrade | January 18, 2011 7:44 PM
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Investors in China are being forced to share their expertise with the Chinese people. But foreign companies are demanding a chance to win contracts in China without sharing their secrets. Opening up a business in China means having to tolerate spies looking over your shoulder, watching and learning your skills. They than go on to build something bigger and better without the R&D costs. But if you don`t mind the Chinese spies, invest in China, make some quick bucks and then go home.

Posted by: morristhewise | January 18, 2011 6:38 PM
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