The Rise of China: Past, Present and Future

The Rise of China: Past, Present and Future


RICK LOCKE: Hi, everyone. It’s really wonderful
to see you all here. My name is Rick Locke. I am a professor of
political science and international
and public affairs, and I currently
serve as provost. And it’s really wonderful
to have all of you here this afternoon to hear from
some of our exceptional faculty about the work
that they’re doing. Today’s event is one
of several events that President Paxson and
I have been sponsoring over the course of this year. This year actually
marks five years into “Building on
Distinction,” the university’s strategic plan. And we thought it would be
really fun to use the various lectures that we organize–
whether the presidential lecture series, the
provost lecture series, different by-faculty
lecture series– and try to actually
sort of use them to highlight some of the
incredible work that’s taking place here at
the university that very much reinforces
what we’re trying to do in this era of
building on distinction. Over this last year,
we’ve heard faculty discuss some of their research
about the causes and effects of systemic racism, the
urgency of climate change, efforts to understand the brain
and address various disorders, and the role of memorialization
in race relations in the US– just some of the
topics that have been covered through these series. These are all critical
issues that Brown is seeking to
understand more deeply and confront more effectively
through our distinctive approach to research
and teaching, which is to blend together
intellectual rigor with interdisciplinary inquiry. That’s really what building
on distinction is all about, and it’s just so
wonderful to see so much great work being done
over the last several years. Today’s talk is very much
emblematic of this approach. We’re going to be hearing
from faculty members in the social, physical,
and life sciences to discuss their
China-related work. And our hope is that by offering
these perspectives and points of view, we can sharpen and have
a more nuanced understanding of the rise of China-
whether it creates opportunities, or perhaps
challenges, or some combination of both. Now clearly this is a very
timely topic, with China dominating the news
in this country, whether it’s around
trade wars with the US or China’s domestic
economy and its impact– some of the issues that the
domestic economy are facing, and the impact for
the global economy– or issues of science domination,
with either 5G or Huawei. We hear a lot these
days about China and its role in our society
and our global economy. And today we’ll be hearing from
four really terrific faculty leaders on campus, professors
Jim Head, Ed Steinfeld, Rebecca Nedostup, and Tong
Zheng as our guides. And what we’re hoping
through the conversation that we’ll have
this afternoon is to actually get
beyond the headlines, and to be able to get a clearer
sense of the kind of complexity of China today. What are the
historical forces that have shaped the
contemporary landscape? And what are actually
the prospects or even predictions for
the future of China and its role in
our global economy? Now the panel
members’ biographies are in your program,
so I’m not going to go through those today. I want to actually use
time for some substance. But instead, what
we agreed to do was to ask each of
our panelists to speak for about five minutes, just
to introduce their perspective on the rise of China. And then I’m going to
sort of kick it off by asking them some
questions, and then open it up for general questions. We really want to
make this as much of a conversation and
a dialogue as possible. Now if I can invite Professors
Steinfeld and Nedostup and Zheng to please
come up to the platform. Now our professor of geological
sciences– please, you can go. Professor of geological
sciences, Jim Head, is actually at a conference. He happens to be at the 50th
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at Houston. But he has graciously agreed
to participate via Zoom. And so with that, why don’t
we begin by hearing from Jim. JAMES HEAD III: Thank
you very much, Rick. It’s a real pleasure to be here. I’m in Houston,
as you mentioned. And indeed, at the 50th
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. And believe it or not, my
first job was on Apollo 11. I’ve been to all 50
of these conferences. So we also ended up with
another 15 to 20 faculty members and grad students here. We had 40 to 50 papers. It was really an exciting time. This past weekend, we
had our [INAUDIBLE] 60th microsymposium, which
had 215 [INAUDIBLE],, and a whole series of– from 17 different
nations as well. So it’s really an
exciting time in space. So– begin the first slide– I think it’s really important to
think a little bit about where space fits in. We’ve all heard the
Star Trek mantra, “space is the final frontier.” Indeed, it is a major frontier. And one of the key
points about space is that it is essentially
a frontier in science, and technology,
and organization. So we might have dreams
about what we’d like to find out on other planets. But if we don’t
have the technology, we simply can’t get there. And again, you
can’t just show up at Cape Kennedy
with your experiment and expect there to
be a bunch of people sitting there waiting for you. The organizational
structure that is involved in space
exploration is critical. So these are really
important things from the point of view of what
countries can do in space. The second point is
that it really does demonstrate national power. I grew up in Washington,
DC, in the 1940s and ’50s. And believe me, when Sputnik
I launched, fear took over. Because we had, in
fact, a Soviet space station right over our head. On the other hand, Apollo
11, which I also worked on, was a completely different
attitude– at least for us. There was worldwide awe. It was really a
great demonstration of bringing the world
together in a singular event, the first human to
set foot on the moon. Now indeed, space provides
also a variety of other things. Pride– pride is how
we view ourselves. Prestige is how others view us. These are both critically
important in space, on a national space
program point of view. And indeed, it
also inspires you. This is exactly
what happened to me. I went from thinking about
going into an oil industry job, immediately into the
space field, simply because I was so inspired
by the idea of how we get to the
moon, what do we do when we get there, and so on. Accomplishments in space–
it’s very important to understand that these are
dual-use military-civilian technology. What this means for
national leaders is it’s a good investment,
because you not only get technology spin-off to
go into the civilian industry, but it works the other way, too. Anything you need to do to
go to space– if you want to go to Pluto, trust me,
you can’t fly something that you would fly in a
military satellite on the earth. There’s really advanced
technology out there. And that raises
another question, too– cooperation in space often has
these different aspects to it which we have to
be very careful, from a national
security point of view. Now also, accomplishments in
space enhance national security and provide vertical
and horizontal– essentially
projections of power. It’s really important,
both up and across. And finally,
accomplishments in space provide international leadership
and national legitimacy. So for example,
the Soviet Union, when I was in Hungary
during the Soviet era, everybody hated the Russians. But indeed, the Russians
launched in their Intercosmos program, a Hungarian cosmonaut. And oh my gosh,
everything was forgotten. Oh my gosh, we were all one– they were all one in terms
of the wonderful pride that the Hungarians had,
essentially flying a cosmonaut. So let’s go to the next slide. I just briefly want
to show you what is going on in terms of
China’s program itself. The Chinese program is run
by the Chinese National Space Agency. This is a series of
logos, which just shows the broad organization
and the penetration of space into all sectors of
the Chinese government and economy, et cetera. So Chinese space agency is very
much like NASA headquarters. It’s different than
NASA as a whole because it doesn’t
have field centers. Those are really all
the other symbols you see here, including, on the
left, the People’s Liberation Army, which doesn’t
really work for the CNSA. The Chinese Academy
of Sciences is much more like the Russian
Academy of Sciences. And there’s incredible
leadership there, in which people get a whole
series of hundreds and hundreds of institutes behind the
space exploration endeavor. Next, please. Now, the other part of
it is that they have, in fact, robust industry. The China Aerospace Science
and Technology Corporation– I love these names– the China Great Wall
Industry Corporation. These people– the
CALT, et cetera– are making huge rockets. And you see they’re lined up
next to one another, the Long March series. They are really competitive
in the international launch market. They have had 300 successful
launches of these vehicles. And they have,
essentially, Long March 5B, which is going to be essentially
the same and even better perhaps, than the SpaceX
Falcon 9 heavy launch vehicle. So it’s really competitive. And of course, in the
lower left-hand corner, you see that these are
used to launch and build the Russian space station. The next slide shows the
cosmonauts, the astronauts. They’re known as
taikonauts, if you will. These are really
coming from Soviet– like the Russian
cosmonauts, these are coming from the military. And this is the same way that,
in fact, the United States did, because these are test pilots. These are the people
you send up first. It is under the People’s
Liberation Army. People say, oh, it’s a
military endeavor, et cetera. China turned to the PLA
because of the organizational capabilities the PLA has. And they were the ones who– you want to have
everything built– strong organization, has
incredible organizational capabilities to actually
pull these things off. So recently, in fact, the
call for new taikonauts has gone out to the Academy
of Sciences as well. So they’re starting
to recruit scientists. And you’ll see why in a second. The next slide shows the space
station that they’re building. They’re welcoming
international partners on this. It’s a very distinct
tool of research, technology development, and
international cooperation and participation, much
like our space station. And the next slide shows
that the civilian space program, too, is really robust. Last year, we ended
up sponsoring, with the help of the Watson
Institute, Microsymposium 59, the Chinese Lunar and Deep
Space Exploration Program. And this was amazing. We had over 30 Chinese
scientists come– which we encouraged to
come, and they came– and talked all about their
deep space exploration program, which includes not only
the moon, but asteroids, Mars. There’s a 2020 Mars vision
mission, just like ours, et cetera. Very, very robust program. And so the next slide, please– shows you, in fact,
one of the keystones of this, which is the Chinese
lunar exploration program. This is amazing. If you look at this
logo here of CLEP, the Chinese Lunar
Exploration Program. And you see, in fact, in the
lower right-hand part there, the symbol for the moon,
and look at the logo, that is a stylized symbol
of the moon, that blue– essentially– line which
encloses not just two bars, but two footprints. So this really tells
you where China is going in this endeavor. And the next slide,
please– shows you, in fact, one of the– this
guy is amazing. Ouyang, he’s the father of
the Lunar Exploration program. Just an amazing man. And he was the one
whose first served as the chief scientist
in the early parts, in the 2000-2010 period. And his three graduate students
are now running the program– literally running the program. And the next slide shows
you– they just landed on the far side of the moon. This is not a trivial exercise. You have to have a
communications satellite in orbit, you have to be able
to communicate with that, send commands down as it
descends and lands, and then you have to have that
to contact [INAUDIBLE] as well. And we’ve helped them. I worked with him on the
selection of this landing site, as with the next one. So later this
year, they’re going to launch the Long March 5
to actually return samples from the moon, bringing in
a new era of lunar science. And this next slide
here shows you how important this is– to
return to the beginning, how important is this? Well, this is President
Xi greeting the Chang’E 4 engineers and scientists at
the Great Hall of the People, just a couple of weeks
ago, February 20. Indeed, President Xi
made these comments– “there is no end for
space exploration.” He called on science and
technology workers and space engineers in China to “ride
on the wave of the Chang’E 4 mission to achieve the general
goal of China’s lunar project, make more efforts to push
forward the international aerospace cause, and to bring
more Chinese wisdom, solutions, and force, to the peaceful
use of space and the building of a community with a
shared future for humanity.” So I think– last
slide, please– if you think about this,
you can really realize that, where is China going in space? I see this as a real
Silk Road to space. All of these components,
China recognizes, and basically they see this
as a really fundamental way to build self-respect,
pride, and prestige. And trust me, they
care less about what’s going on at NASA
or other organizations, and more about where
they’re heading. So I hope this helps
as an introduction. Thank you. RICK LOCKE: Thank
you very much, Jim. [APPLAUSE] Our next speaker is
Professor Ed Steinfeld. EDWARD STEINFELD:
Thanks so much, Rick. And thanks, Jim, for
those great comments. I’ll begin with the
proverbial self-criticism– so [INAUDIBLE]. 30 years ago– yeah,
roughly 30 years ago, 1989, when I was first
living in China– had you asked me whether in my
lifetime I would see a world famous geologist and somebody
who started his career at NASA describing a Chinese space
program with admiration, and talking about
new-to-the-world things that the Chinese space program
is doing, I would have said, no way, not in my lifetime. Had you told me that China
would be the place with some of the world’s most
advanced transport systems, gleaming skyscrapers,
and a number of cities, a place where you could
see first-in-the-world commercialization of different
AI solutions for industry, a place where you’d see some
of the world’s most advanced social media apps, some of the
world’s most advanced online payment systems, some of the
most extensive penetration of broadband and
use of smartphones– had you described all
that, I would have said, not in my lifetime, not
in my children’s lifetime, not in my
grandchildren’s lifetime. But here we are. And if people tell you that
it’s all about copying, and there’s nothing
innovative going on in China, it’s all fake or taken
from somewhere else, don’t believe them. Smart people in global
business don’t believe that. And they’re trying to learn
what’s going on in China. At the same time, they’re
trying to protect their IP from theft that has occurred. But had you painted that picture
to me of such modernity– ultra-modernity– I would have said, not a chance. And 10 years ago,
had you said to me we would see a
China in whatever– 10 or 20 years– run by a strong man who
abolished term limits on party chairmanship, who’s stoking
ethno-nationalism, who pushed the largest-scale mass
incarceration of Muslims in China, Chinese citizens,
Uyghurs, in Xinjiang, who would have suppressed civil
society to the extent that’s being suppressed today, I also
would have said, no way, not a chance. Yet here we are. And I think the
challenge involves explaining both of
these kinds of outcomes, and making sense of
both of these outcomes. I don’t think the answer is that
the first thing I described, all of this
technology innovation and unbelievable
ultra-modernity, is explained by this kind of
atavistic authoritarianism. I don’t think that’s the answer. And nor do I think
that that kind of atavistic authoritarianism
and strongman rule is somehow definitional, that
that’s the thing that China is really about. What I want to do very briefly
is turn back the clocks 100 years. So in May, we are going to be
at a very important anniversary. May 4th, 1919 was a moment
in Chinese history– it was of course a student
protest in Beijing, but it was a moment that was
recognized then, and certainly now, by many Chinese as
China’s first modern moment, the beginning of the
push to modernity. And so yes, there was
a student protest. But there was this unbelievable
intellectual Renaissance that happened in the
movement right around 1919 into 1920 and 1921,
and all kinds of ideas came into play, some from
outside, some from China itself. So Marxism came into play,
and Nietzsche and nihilism came into play, and gender
equality and sexual liberation, and Leninism, and democracy,
and Deweyan pragmatism. All manner of ideas
came into play. And I think what characterized
that period, though, aside from this unbelievable
experimentation, was a common sense of
mission, a common sense of national mission– not necessarily space
program or technology, but a sense that
Chinese society had entered a self-aware process
of change, purposive change. And then, in
succeeding decades, we saw different answers to what
that kind of self-aware process of change, of being
something different from what we are today. We saw what that looked like. I don’t want to oversimplify,
but I will anyway. We saw in the– sorry– in the
1950s and ’60s a Maoist Utopian answer. And that was about
spiritual issues as much as material ones. It was about achieving
the unthinkable, and achieving things
through the human will, and achieving things
through faith, and building collectively. And it was about
unbelievable catastrophe, and unbelievable errors
that occurred that cost millions of human lives. And it culminated in an
unbelievable, I’m sorry to say, outflowing and
paroxysm of violence– not violence by Chinese
against outsiders, but violence by Chinese
against each other. And then that
period of Utopianism was followed by something
in the 1980s, and 1990s, and even the first
decade of the 2000s that was, I think,
even more radical and even more revolutionary,
a different kind of remaking. Chinese society was remade– well, and the term, capitalism,
isn’t used so much in China, but it was and is capitalism,
a very radical and pretty fast exposure to markets. And a very radical– at least from the perspective of
the ordinary Chinese citizen– a radical retreat of politics
from day-to-day life, despite the– of
course– persistence of authoritarianism. But markets everywhere,
for everything– education, and health care, and
housing, and job markets– which of course puts a
lot of stress on people and makes them
economically vulnerable, but at the same time
affords a certain liberty in many respects of life. And I think during
that period, we did see the bases for this kind
of burgeoning of technology and technological
solutions, and burgeoning of human capital investment, the
results of which we see today. And then not so long ago, maybe
coincident with the rise of Xi Jinping– although not
just about Xi Jinping– but the rise of Xi
Jinping in late 2012, 2013, we saw a
different kind of moment and a different
kind of recreation that happens to
mirror things going on in lots of the
rest of the world, including in the United States. And that recreation seems to
be about national identity expressed belligerently,
often, national identity expressed through fear,
often, national identity expressed through a big state
and a heavy-handed state, and national identity expressed
through the suppression of civil society and anybody
who threatens the state coming from civil society, be it an
ethnic group or a civic group. I don’t have an
answer to why this is. I don’t have an answer to
why this is, to some extent, in a lot of parts of
world, including the US. I don’t have an answer
exactly to why it is in China. But I’ll conclude, really,
by making two points. The first is, since 1919,
that May 4th movement– at least since 1919– China has been in this
really self-aware, purposive experience of change. And what that experience
has demonstrated is, virtually
anything is possible. That in this kind of
recreation, we’ve seen– if I can say so for myself–
nightmarish outcomes and we’ve seen unbelievably
exhilarating outcomes. And what you’re seeing
today isn’t intrinsic, it’s not definitional, and
it’s not the bottom line. It’s not necessarily the end. We don’t know where it’s going
but we know, from where it’s been, there’s plenty of room for
experimentation, and purposive experimentation. The second point– actually
I have three points. The second point is that this
is not an academic statement, but it’s a personal
impressionistic statement. I’ve always been amazed by my
Chinese mentors and teachers, the ability of many of
my Chinese colleagues to simultaneously keeping
their hand head diametrically opposite ideas. And what I don’t mean by that
is that they’re contradictory. But the idea that one could
be heading in one direction but also maybe heading
along a very different path simultaneously. Maybe it’s yin yang. I don’t want to trivialize this. But I’ve been raised
in a society that’s much more about orthodoxies. You have to get the
property rights right if you want to get
economic development. You have to have
democratic institutions if you want democracy. That makes sense to me. But the ability to do
things not totally in order, and to keep these different
ideas in one’s head simultaneously, I think,
is worth looking at. And just the last thing,
truly, that I’ll say is the future is, of
course, open-ended but mainland China is not
the only Chinese model that’s in operation. There are other successors
to the tradition of May 4th. They can be found
in Taiwan, which also had its deep authoritarian
and cataclysmic periods of history, but also a
democratic one today. They can be found in
Hong Kong and other parts of the Chinese diaspora. So I would urge us
to think broadly about what the
Chinese experience is and where it’s headed. Thanks. RICK LOCKE: Thank you, Ed. [APPLAUSE] Now let’s hear from Rebecca. REBECCA NEDOSTUP:
So I’m going to talk a bit about China’s scale. This is something that
I’ve been thinking about, both in my own individual work
and in my collaborative work, some of which has
happened as part of the program in
collaborative humanities here at the Cogut Center,
and some co-teaching that I’ve done with Tamara
Chin in that program, someone who’s been part of
this series earlier. And when we think
through this, part of it is trying to think about
the opportunities offered by the scale of physical
and human geography and China’s chronology. And I appreciate Ed
for introducing history so I don’t have to be the
historian who brings up history as the first person
on the [INAUDIBLE].. Thank you. But this idea of skill, not
merely as an object of study or an object of,
say, marketing, which is something that’s
characterized the 20th century, going all the way back to
at least as early as 1937, when the Shanghai-based
ad man Carl Crow published the book,
400 Million Customers, which has since been updated
in many other iterations. And now we have 1.7
billion customers. So it’s not really
just thinking of China as the scale as an
object to be looked at, but scale as agentive,
or scale as foundational. How does the Chinese
experience actually change the questions we ask
or change our epistemologies? So I’ve been thinking about
taking the scale of Chinese history– especially in this
very fraught past 150 years that Ed has alluded to– seriously in two ways lately. One is in the
individual research I’ve been working on, to
try to grasp the scope and impact of the
human experience of war and displacement,
separation, forced migration, colonialism during
this time, both looking at China and Taiwan. And the second is
thinking about how we can take this
very painstaking work that many Chinese
historians have been doing, both individual researchers
and research groups, to uncover local
stories and gather a great deal of local
fieldwork and local archives, and how we can actually
scale up that knowledge to tell us bigger
stories, either about China or about
the world, and how to do that while
sort of broaching a very stark digital divide. In essence, how we can deal
with the Chinese internet and its implications for
the digital humanities and our understanding
of the digital world. So to start with this first
issue, you may have heard the term, “China’s
century of humiliation,” referring to this 100 years
that starts with the Opium War and goes, usually, through
the founding of the People’s Republic of China, this
century characterized by the semi-colonial taking
of China, but also China’s invasion by foreign
oppressors, and the sense within that– and that
term is still used today, and it’s been revived often
by the Xi Jinping regime as a characterization of
the painful recent history of China, and a history
which is now being shed. And I think we need
to take it seriously because it is based in a
harsh historical reality. It’s also obviously a
political term of art, but it is one that nonetheless
has resonance with people. And that history itself
is often incompletely dug up, ironically, sometimes
because of local politics, or Chinese governmental politics
and global politics alike. So it’s useful to
think about that– what is missing from our
global history regarding China, as well as from
Chinese history itself. So many people are
very anxious to see the history of their local
communities represented. And so we see WeChat
history groups, we see amateur historians,
we see wealthy entrepreneurs building private museums of the
Cultural Revolution or of World War II history,
gathering materials to contribute to this. And so my own work
sort of intersects with some of these interests,
and then builds on them. And it looks at a sort of
history of the Long War, the second Sino-Japanese
war, AKA World War II, through the Chinese Civil War
period and the early Cold War period, a time when as much
as one quarter of the Chinese population was displaced– up to 100 million people. And this is something
we don’t often hear in global
histories of refugees, yet this is an enormous
movement of the population, and with it, an
enormous loss of life. So we have two silences
that contribute to this. One is the silence in
history writing itself, and how refugees are
counted and accounted for. And another is a personal
silence and a family silence. Many of you will know,
maybe, from your own families or from families that
you know that this is a history that is often
not recorded or not spoken of. And this is common to
many communities who have undergone this traumatic
experience of displacement and violence in
the 20th century. So how can we account for
this and account for silences? Thinking about the
war, many of you may know pictures like
this, the famous picture, termed “Bloody Sunday,” taken by
a Shanghai-based photographer, depicting this child which
was seemingly left alone after a Japanese bombing
in 1937 Shanghai. Those of you who may know a
little bit more about the story know that he in
fact was not alone. His father was nearby. And the full series
of the photographs show him being rendered aid. But this is something about
the image of China overall during this century that
was being constructed by these photographs,
but that continues on, this idea that China
is a place of orphans, it is a place of
abjection, it is a place where children can be
left alone and uncared for. It is a place of suffering. If we look– where else
can we look and get a sense of what
experience might be like? I found it in things
like wooden boats. Wooden boats, after the
end of World War II, started carrying many passengers
from the wartime capital of Chongqing back to places
like Shanghai and Nanjing. These passengers were not alive. They were encoffined corpses
who went back east before living refugees could, which showed the
importance of reburial and care for the dead of many
families and organizations in China during this time. Newspapers carried
advertisements for these trips. And this was tied to the
sense that dying away from home and outside
of the family realm was a dispersal and
separation of community and a breaking apart
of the moral world, and that this, as
a law, was a strike against cosmological order
as important as death itself. So these are the kinds
of things that one has to search for carefully
in the historical record, because they may
not be spoken of. And we see them
spoken of perhaps only in the lines of short
stories of people remembering, talking
about tomb-sweeping day, where there are
no graves to sweep because the family
members are lost. So this is the larger project. And along with it, I’ll
just mention very briefly the digital project,
which is based on an idea that many digital humanities
projects are built around a kind of
one-world concept, that eventually everything
will be digitized, and all we need are the
tools to analyze it. We need better and
better tools to analyze a growing and growing corpus. The world of Chinese
digital objects is complex. Because of the great
firewall, because of governmental restrictions,
sometimes things are digitized, but I can go to an
archive, and not walk away with the
digital object itself. So just because
something is digitized doesn’t mean that it ends
up in as a digital object in the hands of researchers. Secondarily, there
are many things that we work with as researchers
that will never be digitized. So we’re working now
on this project, which is how to create a DOI, a
Digital Object Identifier, for something that may not
exist in a digital realm, and to create a graph database
that will allow us to share the records of those objects so
that we know that that exists. We can share and collaborate on
our knowledge of those objects, but we don’t have to
rely on everything being completely digitized. So we’re hoping to foster
greater collaboration and build up knowledge
based on that. So that’s it for me. [APPLAUSE] TONGZHANG ZHENG: OK, thank you. First, I would like to thank the
university, Rick, and President Paxson, and the Watson Institute
for hosting this meeting. I thought it’s a very timely
meeting, really, for me. I feel that it’s
important to communicate about the rights of China. Especially the TV talk so
much about the Chinese origin, where giving a kind of– how should I describe? [CHUCKLING] Just say, it’s timely. I just say, I want to
use both of your centers, you are open, say, 30 years ago. So 30 years ago, I
came to this country. Before I came to
this country, I was asking people who came
to United States, I said, what looks like a highway? Because I never saw a highway. So I would imagine a
highway was built so high, and it’s like from the sky. So really, I recall so vividly
I was asking, what is a highway? But now you go
back to China, now the highway was built to the
most remote village, mountain area. And my hometown
never see a train. But now, there are 350
kilometers per hour, the train, passed by two lines. So the rise of
China economy-wise, they really did
a major progress. And I’m currently
a surveyor under the chief scientific
advisor for China’s National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences. So I’m going to focus on the
environmental issues related to China’s development. So my question to
everyone and to myself is, what can we learn from
China’s economic development, and the public health,
and the human care? Can I move forward? This one? Yeah, so I’m going to talk about
China’s economic development and the environmental
deterioration. So I’ll be very quickly to
say that’s really the China’s economic development. So when we say, rise of China,
that the rise of the Chinese GDP during the past decade. You can see, before 1990,
it’s almost not much change. But after China joined
the WTO, that how– the pattern. Here, I just show you– the top is Shanghai in 1990. And then this is
a few years ago. Shanghai doesn’t look
like this anymore. There is many more
high rise buildings. So indeed, it’s a
tremendous development. So I’m going to divide it
into three periods for China rise and the public health. One, it’s 1949 through 1979. That’s so-called before
the open door policy. There’s really not much
economic development. It was very slow, basically
recover for surviving. So there was also very little
environmental contamination. So that’s this period. And then the second
period is 1979 to 2009. That’s the period when the Deng
Xiaoping visited the US states and met President Carter,
in 1979, in March, and started the
open door policy. Because he had a saying,
who get along with America will be rich. So he– this
started the economy. And the Chinese– the
economy development, but at the same time, they
paid very little attention to environment. And they paid very
little attention to what’s the consequence to
this rapid economic development and the potential
damage to the land. You just see the land. Take from Chinese newspaper– 60 million acres of farmland–
it was fertile farmland– now is totally
polluted by metals– 60 million. Just the Chinese
economic development paid a bigger price– the land and the people. So that’s the land. You see the water. River after river is dead. And when we were
young, everywhere you can go to catch fish. You can use [INAUDIBLE] fish. And now, the Yangtze
River, Yellow River, it’s not much fish yet
anymore– so, water. Air pollution. Did you see it yet? This is the Forbidden
City, the right side. Both are Forbidden
City, but left side, there are many days
that it looks like that. So not only does China
produce this waste, China, we’re the largest dumper,
import almost the majority of the world– United States’, Europe’s
trash for scrapping. It’s year after
year, for 40 years. So you produce yourself, and
then you import the trash. And this all is
going get to people. You see, that’s the hospital. Used to be, the cancer hospital,
before I came to this country, the cancer hospital
was, like, deserted. Now I go back to China, it’s
like a general hospital, full of people. You know, that’s
children’s hospital. The [INAUDIBLE] is not
enough, so they just put it into the front door. So there’s really
good people uneasy. So there’s a need to say,
“restore my environment” and “restore my hometown.” This is very real in China. You can do this. Because they’ve really
got social instability. I could give you real numbers. Do you know how many
cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes in China? 400 million diagnosed. That’s more than United
States, the total population. 400 million people with a
stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Each year, there’s 1.2 million
people premature deaths because of air pollution. So, one side, I will
talk about rise of China. On the other side, I will
talk about the price paid. So because of this
situation, [INAUDIBLE] the government, the
can’t ignore anymore. The third period– the China’s
from 2009 to current, 2019. The Chinese government– the
president and the premier– finally called, we
need a fight against– we need a fight for clean air. And so China now is the
world’s largest investor in green economy– renewable resources. On the top, that’s China. The highest is China’s
water power, solar power, and the wind power. And they say it’s also China’s
invested in electric cars. And by 2025, China
is going to have one fifth of the cars running
on the street is going to be electric cars, trying
to reduce pollution, and also try to restore the forest. And China, now–
on data side, we’re so hard for getting
our own grants. Well, I just wanted to
tell you the good news, I just got a $3
million dollar grant to study mercury exposure
and diabetes in China. I mean, well, we are
here, very tight budget. But in China now,
the university, billions and billions of
dollars towards this research. So now we have– just the past five years, I was
helping China just finishing one called enhance study. It was a national environmental
and nutrition study. This was the first one. Each year, it’s
billions of dollars. And this is another one,
called China’s SMOG monitoring. It’s 150 sites. And each site, each year,
it’s like $1 million. So, and there’s many,
many other studies. You and I, we went
to the institute. And so I wanted to say, that’s
the sites in China we just– we just finished the study. So my conclusion is– we can see China,
the economy rise. When you were very poor,
1949 to 1979, everyone wanted to be rich. So but 1979, when Deng
Xiaoping said, let’s get rich. So everyone was
trying to get rich. No one cared about
a consequence. So now people
[INAUDIBLE] a little bit of thought and to find that
the poor are even better. So my point is,
what lesson can we learn from China’s economic
rise and health come down? Because there is many
developing countries is going to walk the same path. So that’s my [INAUDIBLE]. RICK LOCKE: Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] So you can see why it’s
so exciting to be here. We had four amazing colleagues
working in very, very different fields, and shedding
light, I think, in an interesting, more
subtle, more sophisticated way, about what’s happening
in China and its role in the global economy. Just to kick off
the conversation, I thought I would ask
a couple of questions, and then we’ll open
it up for discussion. So let me let me begin
by talking about sort of advances in science. And this is to Jim,
but to all of you. And I’m sorry, Jim, that I
keep on having my back to you. So a number of you touched
upon China’s current ambitions to lead in science, to
advance a space race, and to promote
economic expansion. But given what several of
you also mentioned, which is the current leadership
style, which I think was described as
“traditional strongman,” I guess my question is, can
they really pull it off? What we know is that to
make lasting and meaningful scientific advances, scientists
usually need freedom– freedom to explore,
to collaborate, collaborate not just
among themselves but with global partners. Can China really achieve
its scientific and economic ambitions, given
what several of you have described as the
current leadership style and environment? And Jim, maybe we could start
with you, and then ask others. JAMES HEAD III: Yeah, I think
it’s a complex question. And I think you’re
absolutely right that there are these issues. And my Chinese colleagues
complain about them, about not being able to really
get more access to the internet in various different ways. But at the same time, I
think the overarching aspect of the Communist Party,
regardless of the leaders, is not the kind of democracy
that we think of when we think of our own interactions. And so there is sort of
an umbrella under which most of the Chinese
scientists operate, in which they kind
of know the bounds. But there’s actually a lot of– I won’t say freedom, per
se– but just ability to interact internationally,
to travel, to communicate with people like
myself and others, to invite us to come visit
them, and to collaborate in many, many different ways. So I think there
is, I would say, a network of interactions
that we would not see on the face of it to be
very different than what we see in the United States in
terms of scientific meetings, and organization,
and interaction. But at the same time, you
have this larger scale cloud over you, if you will, of
potential draconian measures. And I think basically
a lot of Chinese already know how to
operate under that. And so I would just say, if you
think about what President Xi came and congratulated
the Chang’E 4 engineers and scientists, I mean, they
know that it’s a national priority, and if they
basically stay out of politics, they’re going to have a
heck of a good career. So somewhere in there
it’s a complex thing. And I think the draconian
fist could come at any time. I don’t– I can’t predict
how that would play out. RICK LOCKE: OK,
how about others? Anyone went to add to that? Ed? EDWARD STEINFELD: I agree
it’s a complex issue. I think there are
a lot of reasons to advocate for democracy
and democratic society. I happen to think it’s
the right way to go. But I think it’s a mistake to
view democracy in instrumental terms, or to project our own
values onto other phenomena, like innovation. And so I think innovation can
happen in a variety of systems. Right now, in China, in my
view, the politics isn’t good. But there’s an
unbelievable amount of data being generated by
people using smartphones, and apps like WeChat. There are an unbelievable
number of engineers who’ve been trained at various levels. And that combination
of engineers and data is being mobilized for lots of
commercial innovation in AI, regardless of the politics. I think in the long run, it’s
important for any country to maintain stability. And it’s important
for talented people to feel that they have
a future in the country. And when the politics starts
impinging on those attitudes, then there’s a problem. I don’t think we’ve
quite reached that yet. RICK LOCKE: Anyone
else want to add? REBECCA NEDOSTUP: I’ll just make
a quick comment that I think it’s quite interesting how– if we take the internet, the
idea of a closed internet in some way, versus a
completely open internet, going back to its
earlier framing, that even five
years ago, maybe we would have thought that
China’s internet was an outlier as a model, and
that there was an assumption that American internet
or ideal of internet was going to be
the only way to go. But now we know that there
are many other imitators, and growing numbers
of imitators, of China’s model of internet. So I find that very instructive. RICK LOCKE: That’s great. Let me ask a second
question, which I think Tong and
others raised, which was this kind of paradoxical
situation, the graph that you showed about the
incredible growth of China’s economy from the 1980s on. And all of us know
that this was probably one of the most dramatic
periods of poverty alleviation of really taking millions
and millions of people out of poverty and
bringing them into– TONGZHANG ZHENG: 800 million. RICK LOCKE: 800 million
people out of poverty. But more recently,
we’ve seen a lag, right? And a lag not just because
of the consequences for public health and the
environmental deterioration. We’ve seen a lag because
of sort of a slowdown domestically in the market, and
also a lag because of what’s happening internationally,
whether it’s trade war, or other
demand, et cetera. So given that lag,
what do you see as the prospects for– or at
least some of these clouds that we’re seeing
in the prospects for the Chinese economy? What do you see
as the consequence for the rise of China and its
role in the global economy? Who wants to– EDWARD STEINFELD: Good
question– a big question. Just a few things– China, right now,
it’s an urban country. It wasn’t several decades ago. But it’s not a
very urban country. About 60% of the
population in China now lives in cities, relative
to 80% in the countryside, really, still in the
1970s, or 75% in the 1970s. But what that says is
this is a country that, at its current level of
wealth, has an inordinately low level of urbanization,
which is also to say that the process
of continued urbanization is going to continue
to generate growth, I think, over the
long run, and a shift into a consumption-oriented
economy. But things have slowed a lot. And I think it’s normal
to expect that the growth rates of the 1990s
and early 2000s are not sustainable
over the long run. The adjustment to
slower growth, I think, is a challenge socially,
and a challenge politically, and a challenge
economically, particularly, because in recent years, there’s
been so much speculation, particularly in things
like real estate. And so slowdowns in the near
term pose real problems. RICK LOCKE: I just
wonder about that. Because of the– it seemed
like there was always this deal, which is that you
would have economic prosperity in return for social stability. But now, if the prosperity
is kind of slowing down, we see unemployment in certain
industrial areas growing, we see rise of labor unrest,
one of your pictures, Tong, was about environment–
“take back our community.” So how is this going to play
out with this system that seems to be so tightly tied
to economic development? Jim, did you want
to get in on this? JAMES HEAD III: Yeah, I was
just thinking a little bit– a variation on that
theme that I’ve noticed is that the family is
so important in China, and yet this
economic development is driving huge numbers
of people to the cities, and breaking up families. That is to say, one
family member– a parent– will go and leave the
children in the village. I saw tons of partly-built
villages, which basically people were fleeing. And I wonder what
effect, essentially, what appears to be a disintegration
of a lot of families has to do with the social
stability and the economy as well. I’m wondering if anybody– I don’t have any perspective
on that, just observations. TONGZHANG ZHENG: Just
a few years ago, China was like a 10% GDP
increase each year. And then people said,
if we are less than 9%, China is going to
have a big trouble. And then it reached 9%. And then people say,
7% will be the lowest, the bottom line,
at– it reached 7%. Now it’s about a 6%– this year, 6.5%. And the next year,
the anticipated– just finished the Chinese
government meeting– is going to be 6% predicted. But China, because
like the United States, it is such a huge economy
with 13,000 [INAUDIBLE] GDP per year. So China, really
their emphasize– international trade has some
impact to China’s economy. There’s no doubt. Just like the discussion with
the United States trading. They talk about,
if you totally stop the trading between United
States and China, it’s about 1% impact. So they are not going to
really hurt China much. It was 13,000
[INAUDIBLE] GDP per year. So China, what they are doing
is trying to emphasize– what they plan to
do, to emphasize the stability,
the progress, with a continually privatization. But at the same time, because
that’s what my discipline. I have to go back to where
and talk about the realize if you just keep going, don’t
care any consequence, just care about the GDP, they
can continue go back to 10%. There’s no problem. China, so its GDP come down. In many, many sense,
it’s a voluntary cut. Like in fact, I know
that in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Canton,
and that they shut down hundreds and thousands
of polluting industries. This kind of small industry
with a tremendous environmental damage, and the cost–
the material damage. They just shut it down. So China– actually, now,
part of the economic slowdown is put the attention to
the environmental issues, put it to the
health these issues. RICK LOCKE: Great, thanks. Let me ask one last
question, and maybe Rebecca can kick us off on this. So we’re on a college campus. And college campuses have
waves of student protest. And several of you mentioned
that, from the May 4th Movement to Tiananmen Square,
China has also a history of student protest. So what’s the mood of
students on campuses today? And how are youth viewing
things like trade war, space race, issues
of climate change, and access to information? Is this striking a nerve or not? REBECCA NEDOSTUP:
That’s a good question. And I mean, that’s
one of the reasons why I think there has
been a sort of theme in some of the comments
about the intersection of the image of– or the resonance
of some of the– the message of pride in the
political discourse, and then other critiques and so on. Because I think that there is a
real sense among some students of, I guess, a
feeling that, really, that now this is
the moment where, particularly given the political
situation in the United States, the withdrawal of the United
States from its previously stated global leadership
positions, that this is the time when
China is actually meant to take its place– its long-delayed place
on the global stage. So for some students, there’s
considerable support for that. For other students,
I think there’s going to be continued, at
least, questioning, particularly if there is– and I would imagine it might
be quite regional, too. I was thinking in our previous
discussion that a lot of this– the feeling of economic
pressures, particularly job pressures, for students
is going to be regional. We’ve seen this already. There have been some scandals
about college admissions, about the strength of
newly-developed universities, universities who have
jumped up their rankings, and then not been able
to kind of follow through for their students. There have been college entrance
examination testing scandals. RICK LOCKE: Unusual. REBECCA NEDOSTUP: Yes, exactly. (FACETIOUSLY) No, we’d
never hear that here. So these kinds of
things, I think, are very keenly felt. And social
inequality is still very keenly felt. So I would think
that those kinds of things will emerge, and
maybe not on a sort of macro, multi-campus
protest level, but you see it on social
media, for example. RICK LOCKE: Excellent. Ed, do you want to add to that? EDWARD STEINFELD:
Yes, if I could. So I’m not in a position
to generalize, I guess, but I will anyway. Sorry. I completely agree with
Rebecca that students, at least in my experience,
relative to the past, are much more patriotic, I
would say– not necessarily nationalistic, but
patriotic and proud of their country’s achievement. And they’re much more
part of the establishment than they used to be. I mean, party membership is
very high in elite universities. And I think that’s
for a lot of reasons. And a lot of it has to do
with just material reasons, getting ahead in society. But just the other
thing I want to say is, maybe not unlike
here, students in China, they’re facing a
lot of uncertainties and vulnerabilities–
climate change, and international
competition, and then the dark side of the internet. I mean, think about the
filth out of New Zealand just a few days ago,
the abominations that were spread
across the internet. Now, I’m all for
an open internet, but one could see how
somebody would look at that and say, oh, you know,
the government has a role in stopping that
stuff, putting an end to it. And there’s, I think, a
receptive audience in China to that, because
it’s a society that’s much more comfortable with
or accustomed to a big state, perhaps, than this one is. And that’s simply to say that
if you try to put yourself in somebody else’s
shoes, I think you could tell a
narrative for why college students, at the moment, in
China, aren’t up in arms, and a narrative that goes
beyond simply the government is suppressing them. Although I think
the students also know that if they
were out protesting, there would be a harsh response. RICK LOCKE: Great. Why don’t we open
it up to the public, and if you have questions. And if you do, if you could– we have microphones
on the two aisles. If you could please line
up behind the microphone, and introduce yourself,
and we could start. So if you want to move to the– are we going to have
people move to the aisles, or can we hand them? All right, so let’s pass them. If people can just
introduce themselves. AUDIENCE: My name
is Linda Jenkins. This is particularly
for Dr. Head. You’ve been talking about
collaboration and cooperation. And my question is
about Space Force. It’s about defense,
and with Taiwan, and the opposite side of
collaboration and cooperation. And are you interested
or are you involved in the Space Force in any way? JAMES HEAD III:
Categorically, no. The Space Force, I think,
is something that is a dream of President Trump’s. And I think that if you saw
the pushback from the military initially, and a
lot of Congress, you understand that it may
or may not be a good idea, and is really not well-developed
at the present time. It’s going to be argued
out in Congress a lot. I think that the Chinese
government is already making propaganda of that. President Xi has
pointed out that, OK, America is doing a
Space Force, we’re doing peaceful
exploration of the cosmos, and engaging all international
countries, et cetera. So it is a bit of
a political deal. Make no mistake that space
is the defense frontier. Indeed, if one does not
have a presence in space, you do so at your own peril. Because indeed, we can shut down
virtually all communications with the appropriate
instruments in space. And that’s a real
danger for everybody. So the short answer is, I think,
at least from my perspective, international cooperation
in science and exploration really lays a bottom-up
foundation for collaboration. This is exactly what
we did with the Soviet Union and the Russians,
and it worked beautifully. Right now, there’s a number
of people in Earth’s orbit who have been there for– we’ve been in Earth
orbit for years. And in fact, it’s Russians,
Americans, Canadians, all sorts of
international partners. And I think as much as
we yell at each other, with the Russians, back
and forth, nonetheless, when push comes to shove, we’re
working together in space. And I think that works
to essentially keep a lid on the uber-rhetoric,
and helps to lay a foundation of cooperation. So as scientists, we
get a lot out of that. We get a lot out of that. There’s no one-way
street at all. Landing on the far side of the
moon, the details that they’re finding we’re working with
them on is it really amazing. So I think the essentially
bottom-up collaboration is a hopeful foundation for
a more peaceful interaction. RICK LOCKE: Great. Thanks, Jim. We got another
question over here. Yeah. AUDIENCE: My name is Dora Levy. I’m from the department
of comparative literature. And even though I work
on traditional China, I have always maintained a
great interest in modernization, and especially the
demography of China. So one thing I would like
to throw into the mix that hasn’t been mentioned is that,
unfortunately, the process of possibilities of sex
selection before birth have hit China and India
particularly strongly. And unfortunately, the processes
are neither so expensive nor so disgraceful
as to keep people from aborting females
and keeping males so that the ratios of live
male birth to female birth have jumped in the direction
of something like 115 to 100. And as we face possibilities
or potential areas of social unrest,
this is one that is very likely to
come back and create a certain amount of problems. I can’t remember the date– something like 2030. By 2030, there will be a bulge
of males of marriageable age of about 30 million. Please correct me if I’m wrong. That’s the population of Canada. And so it’s not just student
unrest in universities, and movement to the
cities, although that’s been very radical. But there is this
underlying issue with the fall of the
birthrate and the rise of this ratio, that is likely
to create certain issues further down the line. RICK LOCKE: Great. Thank you. Anyone want to respond to that? TONGZHANG ZHENG: There
is a male female ratio– indeed, it exists in China. Mainly come from the
one child policy. And because from
1970s until, like, three years ago, each couple,
you can only have one child. This is only for
the Han nationality, not for the minority. Like Tibet or
other, they’re fine. They can have as many
babies as possible. But now they changed the policy
because the aging problem. Because there is a
male-female ratio difference. So the government
realized its problem. So now they allow you
to have two babies. I think that they will gradually
change, in time, the problem. RICK LOCKE: Other questions. Yes. AUDIENCE: Hi, David Burbach. I teach at the Naval War
College down in Newport. And actually, sort of following
on from Professor Head’s comments about space
cooperation, more generally, you
probably know this, our current administration is
taking a more competitive line with China, I guess
you could say, and raising a number of
issues about how entwined our technological base
is becoming with China. And specific to
universities, frankly, a lot of interest in reducing the
number of Chinese students in the US. Concern about whether
Chinese graduate students might be stealing technology
and intellectual property. Some of that is this
relates to the specific sort of anti-immigration stance
of the current White House. But it is much
broader than that. When I tell my military
officers about the percentages of grad students in the US
who are Chinese nationals, I mean, their eyes
get very wide. They find it very surprising. So what I want to ask is,
first, I guess a softball, what would you be
telling officials in DC about why it’s good to
have so much interaction? I’m also curious about
the Chinese perspective. I mean, the Soviets
were extremely cautious about letting their
people go study abroad. The Chinese government
seems to feel very confident that they’re not taking a
political risk by having so many students go abroad, and
then come back after exposure to Western countries. RICK LOCKE: So who would
like to address this? JAMES HEAD III: I could
start if you wish. RICK LOCKE: Sure. JAMES HEAD III: OK, so I
think it’s very complicated. And let me say up front that
one of the reasons we’re so successful in collaborating
with our Chinese colleagues is because we do not
work in developing military technologies. So basically we’re
talking about acquisition of images which are pretty
standard types of things. And we end up doing
image analysis on these, which are not
so complex that they’re in the defense realm at all. So we’re really fortunate
to be able to interact. So we analyze samples
and blah, blah, blah. And we found that, in fact,
when the Chinese students come– and many of them do, of course;
they’re studying in our lab right now, as well as many
other places in the university– that they really
have a lot to offer. They actually
really are extremely motivating to our students. And not only that, they’re
very anxious to learn just the history of
space exploration and the techniques
of space exploration. This is not high technology. It’s just simply how did
you manage to design a– what do you do when
you get to the moon? What are the big scientific
problems, et cetera? This is not new
technology at all. On the other hand,
it is very clear that what has to be very
wary of technological theft, if you will, intellectual
theft and so on. It’s very real. Quite frankly, I hope
we’re doing as good a job– and I’m sure we are– as the Chinese are doing. So I don’t doubt that. It’s not a wishful
thinking kind of thing. It’s very much a reality. I think the key here is
that a lot of reasons that Chinese students are
permitted by the government to come is because, better
back to our earlier question, we have a lot of respect in the
student population for what’s going on. If you were a student in China,
the students that I hang out with in China and
that come to the US, they hang on the next
announcement of the party Congress about what the
major priorities are, because that’s what
defines their career. And so we were over there
when the party came out with the next stage in the
lunar exploration program. Everybody was cheering. We were really behind this. And they find it
extremely motivating. And I would just say, too,
that one last thing is that one of my very
dear colleagues in China, Wei Ming
Bao, he told me that– basically,
we sit down and we have these long conversations. He says, you know,
Jim, the Chinese are tired of being
America’s factory, OK? We really want to, in fact,
contribute to humanity. We want to develop ideas. And right now, essentially,
developing creative ideas within China is the
coin of the realm. That’s not just in
making money, but it’s also in scientific advancements,
and solar system exploration, and so on. So I think that’s a
huge component of it, too, that they’re not
afraid of, oh my gosh, once they see New
York City, we’re never going to go back again. That’s not the case at all. In fact, they’re very
pleased to go back. And I think they learn. They do learn from us. But we learn from them as well. And in my area, at least, it’s
a really good, fair exchange. RICK LOCKE: Great. Others want to add to that? Rebecca. REBECCA NEDOSTUP:
Yeah, I’m picking up, in a slightly different
register, that last comment about China being the world’s
factory, or America’s factory. I can think of it in
intellectual terms, too, as thinking about the
evolution even of my own field, from when I started
as a graduate student, from people being trained in
the study of Chinese history outside the US, consuming
secondary works created largely by people trained outside the
US, writing not in Chinese, going to China and consuming
the raw materials that resided there. And now, 20, 30
years later, that is a completely different world. And of course there
were people who were way ahead of that at
the time, but that was the by and large the framework. And now there is more of a true
collaboration in that people travel back and forth, and
we share materials and ideas, and students from the
respective programs spend time in the
various places. So it’s not merely
scholars from the outside coming and consuming the
materials and going away. But also we’re
thinking about how to share our
materials creatively, collected from different places. And one of the things that the
Chinese government created, as some of you may be familiar
with because you get inquiries, is this Century
Scholar program, where people who are graduate students
want to spend a year abroad, but then Chinese academics
who are in academic university positions in China have to
often spend a semester or a year abroad in order
to gain promotion. And for some people,
that makes perfect sense, and for some people sometimes
it’s a bit of a leap because it may not
make absolute sense for their particular
program at the moment, their program of study. But it has, overall, just
been a sort of wonderful font of exchanging information. So would that the United
States government gave us all a year’s funding
to go spend time in another country as part
of our promotion package. That would be great. RICK LOCKE: And let me just
piggyback on what Rebecca said, and just how Brown sees this. Because that was part of
the question, which is, we are an open university. We are a global university. We welcome the best and
brightest from everywhere. That’s our policy. And that is a policy that we
communicate very clearly, even with government
officials when they ask, what about this country,
and are you concerned, and stuff like that. So that’s our policy. And I think that we believe
that it enriches us, that, as Rebecca said, there
is a sort of circulation of ideas, and peoples, and
possibilities, et cetera. There was this
wonderful book written by AnnaLee Saxenian, a
Brown parent, called The New Argonauts, and it was
all about Silicon Valley. And one third of all
startups in Silicon Valley come from immigrant
entrepreneurs who are coming from China
and India primarily. So one of the most dynamic
parts of the American economy is benefiting from
this circulation. And that’s our policy,
is to encourage it. Yeah, Chris. AUDIENCE: Chris Rose. I’m in engineering. And this is generated
at everybody, or directed at everybody. I’m a Sputnik baby. So I was born the
year Sputnik went up. So in a selfish sort of
government-grant sort of way, do you think that, in the
same way that Sputnik spurred technological development,
STEM education, and everything else that went along
with it, is that going to be a path forward, or
is there some other path forward that you’re seeing? RICK LOCKE: Who wants to get– EDWARD STEINFELD: A
path forward for what? For China or for the US? AUDIENCE: I’m thinking
mainly in terms of US policy or Western
policy, and in investment in science and technology. RICK LOCKE: Ed, do you want– REBECCA NEDOSTUP: [INAUDIBLE] EDWARD STEINFELD: Well, right
now, we generally, societally have moved increasingly
to positioning China as an adversary. And I think that kind of
adversarial positioning does encourage investments
in a number of areas, like big carrier battle
groups, and strike fighters, but also, I think, science and
technology, maybe education, certainly science
and technology. There may be some benefits
to that kind of positioning. But I don’t think that
the defensive crouch and the zero-sum approach–
it’s certainly not the only way. The Europeans, we could
see it on the Huawei case, are already
distancing themselves from the US position, and
trying to position themselves as a more intermediary between
North America and China, or at least as an alternative
to the direct confrontational path. And I’ll just say
again that I think it’s fine to have an
adversary, and find to use some kind
of external threat to encourage STEM
education, but there are plenty of common
threats that we face that can also be used
to stimulate STEM education. So we don’t really
know exactly how AI can be used in a positive
way as opposed to weaponized. I think– I’m not a
scientist, I haven’t fully figured out how advances
in genetic engineering and bioengineering
are really going to be used to our benefit
rather than weaponized, and we haven’t
figured out how really to address climate change. So I think there could be ways. Recognizing that there is
going to be competition, there could be ways to move
off a wholly adversarial positioning. JAMES HEAD III: I could comment
on that, too, if you wish. RICK LOCKE: Go ahead, Jim. JAMES HEAD III:
So I think, Chris, that’s a really great question. I think this
underlines a difference between the Chinese
system and democracy. Democracy is really messy,
and until it’s threatened, it tends not to
respond too much. You’re a Sputnik baby, I was
a Sputnik graduate student. And my education was paid for by
the National Defense Education Act. Every time I go to
Russia and hang out with my Russian colleagues,
I toast them with vodka– thanks for my education,
we really appreciate it. China, on the other
hand, in 1986, as part of the seventh
five-year plan, had project H63, which was
to essentially underwrite huge amounts of money that
were outside the budget for technology development. That was one of the things
that really got things going. We can’t do that. It’s not so easy. Take a look at the budget today. Science is under attack. Democracy is really messy. So I think one thing is that
it depends on the system. We managed to do it as
a response to Sputnik. On the other hand,
the Chinese, in 1986, made a huge investment– extra budget-wise, like all
kinds of money for this, outside the budget– to develop technology. So it’s hard to see
where it’s going to go. RICK LOCKE: I think we have time
for a couple last questions. Yes. AUDIENCE: Yes, I’m David London. I’m not an academic,
just a proud alum. The discussion in
the last few minutes has revolved around
collaboration and sharing, and the word you termed,
of confrontation. This is a panel of academics. And the history of
academia has always been collaboration and sharing. But if this were a
panel of business people from American
corporations, not a week goes by that there isn’t
a disclosure of bribery for scientific and technological
secrets from China, and a few other countries as
well, but mostly from China– someone being indicted,
someone being arrested, someone being discovered and charged– every single week in
the business press. Whether it’s high-tech
or it’s industrial stuff, it’s non-stop. And it seems to get
bigger and bigger. Would you put yourselves–
just any one of you– put yourselves in the shoes
of someone whose company is suffering from cyber attacks
and from entrusted employees finding out they’ve
been bribed to deliver secrets of their company’s
skills or technologies to China? RICK LOCKE: What
I’m going to do is collect a couple of questions,
and then turn it to the panel. I think there was a
question over here. AUDIENCE: Hi, my name is Julia. I’m a graduate
student in economics, and I have a history question. So I think you alluded
to this, Rebecca, that there are private
museums opening up that’s maybe widening the
discussion of China’s more problematic past. Do you think that the
slipping-in of information from the outside world,
the great firewall aside, do you think that there is
a path forward for China to slowly reckon with
its past, or do you think that the
government is going to shut these channels down? RICK LOCKE: OK, and I saw
a question back there. AUDIENCE: Thank you. My name is Zachary Porter. I’m a graduate student in
computer science here at Brown. Between 2013 and 2014,
I was fortunate enough to be able to spend about
six months in China, studying and living there. I was in Suzhou and Shanghai. And so my question
relates to the continuity of China’s government
today, with ancient forms of government, you know, the
traditional dynasty model. And my question is
sort of motivated by an anecdote I have. When I was studying at– I was just studying for
an exam in a common room at the university
I was at in Suzhou. And there were a
few Chinese students that sat down next to me. And I asked them what
they were studying for, and they said that they were
studying for the Communist Party entrance exam– or
one of the entrance exams that they would have to take. And that made me
step back and realize that, although as
an American, it’s very easy to consider
foreign models of government as either democracy
or tyranny, it did seem to me in
that moment that, OK, there is this gray
area in between, where you do have participation
of the general populace in a more authoritarian
government, but still one that the
people have access to if they try to gain access to it. So my question is, do you view,
in that sense, the government of China today as more similar
to the bureaucratic models of ancient China,
where people could also take exams to participate? And do you do view the
government and bureaucracy of China today as an evolving
form which has staying power far into the future? RICK LOCKE: Great. And I think I saw one last
hand, actually, back there. And then we’re going to
get a round of answers. AUDIENCE: My name
is [INAUDIBLE].. I’m a Chinese graduate student. So I find the last
question, what lesson can we learn
from China’s experience, as pretty intriguing. Because in my experience,
we in China always say, we are following the developing
pathway of other developed countries. So although we now have– like we learned from
the primary school is, first, pollution,
second, remediation. If I remember right, so Europe
and US also in the last century also have very serious
pollution problems. Even now, the Rhode
Island State is one of that pollution sites
of the heavy metal in drinking water and the volatile
organic compounds in soil. So what we actually
anticipate is that the few– we will look at our
development– actually, China is looking for the future
of the developed countries to anticipate its future. So after decades, do you
think people can customize their developing pathways? Actually it’s not– so
there is many things during a development falls into
a historical inevitability. So it’s like the
development pathway is actually dodging the
bullet, and actually they all look the same. So my question is, let aside the
dark history and the developing speed, what’s the difference
between the rise of China with the rise of US and the rise
of Japan and other countries? RICK LOCKE: Excellent. Thank you. Why don’t we start. You can pick and choose whatever
questions you want to answer. Starting with Rebecca,
and then cutting across. REBECCA NEDOSTUP:
So just to talk about the question of
history that’s done, say, by individuals or
small groups outside of an academic setting– put it that way. So that’s been going on for a
while, including these museums. Some of these museums have
opened and been shut already. And the interesting
thing is, I think a lot of that actually
doesn’t have an awful lot to do with developments
outside of China, necessarily. Some of that does come from
this very deep interest in wanting to uncover the
details of recent history. And some of it just comes
from the financial ability of some of these recent
entrepreneurs to fund it. So China’s own rise is in a
way for funding the ability to uncover the
history of that rise. But some of it is uncomfortable
for the government– partly because of the history
itself, but maybe partly because these are
unsanctioned institutions. So we might be able to fit
them into also a history just of unsanctioned
institutions’ rise and fall, such as so-called house
churches or other kinds of local religious groups, and
so on and so forth– trade unions, et cetera. And then the other
thing about history is that one could look into a
lot of the developments of how people think about
examination and think about political participation. Though, I guess the one
comment I would make on that is it’s always important
to think about– to look at the granular history
of the recent past, which in China would be, like,
a couple hundred years if we talk about recent past. But also, what are
the claims that people are making about the
continuity of the ancient past with the present? And why are they
making those claims? Because we see
them happen a lot, these claims of a
very long continuity. And there’s often a
kind of instrumentality behind those claims. RICK LOCKE: Ed. EDWARD STEINFELD:
To David’s question, I suppose one interpretation
of what was said today is we’re a bunch of
academics, and we’re kind of into collaboration. RICK LOCKE: We’re not
really, but that’s– EDWARD STEINFELD: Yeah,
well, not with each other, but conceptually. But like we said
about a lot of things, the empirical world is complex. So there’s definitely been theft
in China, commercial theft– Chinese companies
stealing from each other, stealing from abroad. And there’s been, I think,
government-supported espionage and theft. At the same time,
you have a bunch of multinational
companies– some big, some small– that are capturing
tremendous value in China, whether it’s Google,
or Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Cloud
Services, that are there partly for the market
and partly for the talent. In 2012, when I was living
in China when the Snowden affair broke open, a lot
of my Chinese friends looked at that
were just in shock that all of this
technology, all the Cisco Systems, IBM systems
that were all over the place in
China’s infrastructure may be windows for espionage. Whether they were
or not, who knows. But it’s interesting
that it gets to the issue of China’s model. One difference between China’s
development model, and Japan’s, and South Korea’s is
that from early on, the Chinese development
model was very open to FDI– Foreign Direct Investment. It was very open to
foreign companies coming in and selling goods,
and also buying companies. Now, maybe that was a
strategy and an effort to get information. But it also provided
outsiders with a place in the Chinese system that
is problematic from that side as well as for the
reasons you mentioned. And just the last point
about leadership, and some of the historical images. My mind is still–
my head is spinning, really, when I think about Xi
Jinping, the head of state, chairman of the Communist
Party, reaching back to Chinese high
antiquity to celebrate China’s national revival. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] the great
revival of the Chinese people, pointing back to
Chinese high antiquity, and sending money into
linguistics and history– I like the money going in there. But Chinese high
antiquity was supposed to be what the Chinese
revolution was against. That the Chinese
government today, officially, has as
its main outreach arm for language promotion,
the Confucius Institute– it wasn’t so long
ago when Chinese were struggling against Confucius. I don’t say that mockingly. Because God knows,
in this country, we also do funny
things historically. But rather to say, again, the
plasticity, the flexibility, the ability to take a past
and completely recreate it into something different. To me, it looks a little more
like Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong. But it doesn’t matter
what my interpretation is. This flexibility is
jaw-dropping and extraordinary. And it could give us
some pause for horror, but I think it actually gives
us a lot of cause and reason for hope. RICK LOCKE: Tong. TONGZHANG ZHENG: OK. I just say, I first
want to have a response to the hundreds of thousands
of Chinese students who come to this
country to study. I just wanted to say,
China is hungry for science and for technology. Because in 1949– in the 1950s,
China cannot even produce matches. So that’s what China, in
order to develop [INAUDIBLE].. And also, I’ve benefited– I personally benefited when I
got a scholarship from Harvard in the 1980s. And I appreciate that the
Americans supported me, and they trained me
where I am today. And also, the softer power. We should recognize the soft
power the United States has. China has it today. Even though we don’t
consider it an open society. But even to this level,
the tremendous influence from the people training
here who go back to China– the influence. I know that President Paxson
went to China a few years ago, gave a speech in Xinghua. And your speech spread all
over China, the universities. And I went to west– the
China, Lanzhou University. And I went to
[INAUDIBLE] university. Everywhere had your copy. And so I just say the
power we have here. And not just the
training, it’s science. And these people return
to China, science is a treasure for
the human being. And we don’t want to keep a
society as slaves forever. But it’s a– help each
other in one sense. In another sense, it’s the
influence to the society. And I want to respond to
it my countryman’s comment about what lesson we
learned from China. That’s exactly my point– when Great Britain,
when they developed it, they went through the same path. That’s what they– in the 1950s,
too, they have a horrible air pollution, called
the London Smog. You know, to what a level? When you raise your hands,
you could not see your finger. When you bent your head,
you could could not see a toe there. So that’s what I experienced
for the industrialization and modernization in Europe. In the United States, this
country also experienced it– Los Angeles smog and all of
these kind of pollution issues. So my point is, why China? How? For what reason we did not
learn from the experience from Great Britain
from United States. And for the future
countries which are developing, like India– India is going to
repeat what China did. So China now do not own the
world’s worst polluted city. Now it’s India. So India’s GDP is going
to increase past China. They have air pollution,
they have water pollution, soil pollution is
going to pass China. So how can we use
China’s experience to learn to benefit to everyone? That’s my point. RICK LOCKE: Great. And Jim, you have the last word. JAMES HEAD III: OK. So I think to the
Brown graduate who is worried about
industrial espionage, this is a very, very
significant problem. You know, I hark back to
what Albert Einstein is purported to have said at the
advent of the nuclear age. “Everything has changed
but our way of thinking.” And indeed, the ability
to utilize the internet to do industrial
espionage, along with a lot of other things, is critical. And I guess my one
statement is we have to just remain vigilant. Because it is a way of life now. So we need to
protect against that. The second point
is that I think, when we talk about the
students and the young people, it’s interesting–
and the exchanges, OK? I find, in my lab,
when people come, they in fact learn
a lot from us. They learn a lot about
freedom and democracy. They learn a lot about
different types of systems. We learn a lot about
not demonizing people that don’t happen to agree
with exactly what democracy is, whatever it is
in our day to day. And I think, for
example, they see, when they come here, for
the first time, the videos of Tiananmen Square– for the first time. And in addition to that, for
example, one of the students told me that her
friend mentioned when President Xi declared
that he was present for life, basically– or got that through the system– a friend of hers
a share on WeChat, “I’m not sure that’s
a really good idea.” Within a day, he was, as she
said, “invited” to come down to the police station to explain
what he meant, and to be told, in no uncertain terms, don’t
get involved with that. So that’s– there
is this problem, two parts of this problem. And I would say
the other thing is that we need to get
perspective on our own country, with the comments that you
just heard, just previously. Climate change is
under attack now. Pollution is going to
be more unabated than it has been in the past. And you know, it’s happening
in our own country. We are actually, I think,
taking a step backward. And we need to be
vigilant about that. And finally, I
would say, I’d love to come down to the
War College to talk to your military
colleagues about what’s going on in China as well. So you have my coordinates,
so please get in touch. Thanks very much, Rick. RICK LOCKE: So please join me
in thanking this wonderful group of panelists. [APPLAUSE]

9 thoughts on “The Rise of China: Past, Present and Future

  1. This is a surprisingly rare down-to-earth talk regarding China by an American institute. The speakers actually have 1st hand China experiences. However, the west can never comprehend china with western lenses. For example, it is absurd to claim that "you must have democracy to have innovation". Look, in the past, Chinese invention of paper making, printing, gunpowder, compass has nothing to do with Democracy. At the present, without western Democracy, Chinese is catching up fast in many Science and technology fields such as 5G, Green technology. Even from the Western history, Galileo, Kepler, Newton were not the product of Democracy either.

  2. Western countries are biased in their views about non western. For some reason they believe that the white race is superior which is not true. I know that they have been plundering this planet for the last three hundred years and suddenly losing it is shocking fot them. The white man is becoming a burden for other races as they are imposing WAR on other races to maintain their hegemony. They are always in denial mode and wishing that somehow the rise of the rest will not take place and they will continue to live their lethargic lives.

  3. “I’ve always been amazed by my Chinese mentors and teachers, the ability of many of my Chinese colleagues to simultaneously keep in their head diametrically opposite ideas” —Professor Ed Steinfeld.

    This could be the result of “naive dialecticism,” which is a feature of Eastern thinking.

  4. but you know most of people think Chinese president for life act is reasonable for the moment , having some huge historical chaos to solve that not a single term presidency on earth can solve.
    the rationalization of things in Chinese minds , involves so many divergent factors into play. i don't even understand why lots of westerners use sentence such as A is B , C is D etc.
    Democracy is good, cigarettes are bad, alcohols are bad, muslims are dangerous.
    it is very easy to read thru a westerners than another way around.

  5. Why is it rare to see 21st-century original invention by an individual scientist?
    We would like to see next-gen Thomas Edison, Einstein, Newton..etc.
    Most of what we see in the 21st-century is nothing but improving the existing technology.
    What sort of new, original invention of the 21st century do you guys see will happen?

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