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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

President Hu's challenge

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?

President Hu's most daunting challenge during this week's U.S. visit was to convince American political leaders--and the American public at large--that China's rapid growth as an economic and military power is really in their best interests, despite protectionist fears to the contrary. He had to emphasize our nations' shared goals and the ways in which cooperation can bring them to fruition, despite deep skepticism of his intentions and widespread doubts that China's values are the same as our own. And, perhaps most important, he had to lay the groundwork for a preemptive détente of sorts, despite the fact that all indications point to numerous confrontations down the road.

While President Hu likely fell short of this admittedly challenging task, I would argue that he performed about as well as could be expected. The news that China approved a $19 billion purchase of 200 Boeing passenger jets helped define China's strong economy as a rising tide that lifts U.S. ships as well. His admission that "a lot still needs to be done in China, in terms of human rights" was certainly vague, but did mark a departure from past statements. And by voicing his concern over uranium enrichment in North Korea, President Hu conveyed a desire for stability, and a recognition that as China's influence grows so does its responsibility within the international community.

The thawing of tensions between the U.S. and China isn't going to come overnight--and it wasn't going to be achieved this week alone. As such, this trip's key success was that a foundation for future cooperation and partnership was seemingly established. Areas of agreement, not contention, were the focus. And while much remains unresolved between our two countries, President Hu's visit was a step toward finding synergies and common national interests.

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By Robert Goodwin

 |  January 21, 2011; 6:25 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  
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Please report offensive comments below.

Better Chinese food in NYC than China. Cab ship man egg fu yung. Will ship him frozen.

Posted by: jobandon | January 28, 2011 3:12 PM
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The question presented to the panel by the Washington Post begins with the premise that "Americans now view China as the biggest threat to U.S. economic and military interests."

Really? Americans think *China* is the "biggest threat to U.S. economic and military interests"? Not al-Qaeda (which attacked us), or Iran (a hotbed for nuclear weapons development), or Russia (whose critics are murdered at alarming rates at home and abroad)?

If the presmise is true that "Americans now view China as the biggest threat," wouldn't a better follow-up question have asked whether Americans have their priorities straight?

Posted by: perplexed2009 | January 23, 2011 3:25 PM
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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 9:50 AM
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