By Brian Z. Li
Recently I was honored with the privilege of attending the America-China Public Affairs Institute’s inaugural 2016 luncheon in New York City. The event was attended by many leading and respected business and political figures from China, and I was fortunate enough to sit at the dais among many distinguished Chinese leaders and six general counsels from different nations.
The America-China Public Affairs Institute, an independent research organization specializing in U.S.-China related affairs, secured one of the most respected Chinese leaders to provide the keynote speech at this private event; the honorable Mr. Tung Chee Hwa, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, President of the China-United States Exchange Foundation and Hong Kong SAR’s former First Chief Executive. Mr. Tung Chee Hwa gave an impressive speech on China’s “past, present and future.” He expertly presented to the large audience on this topic in the context of “How to Look at China Today.”
Mr. Tung Chee Hwa put today’s current economic conditions in China into a historical perspective. As a company with continuing interest in expanding our business in China, I found his comments enlightening and informative. He declared China’s growth rate is approximately 6 to 7 percent in recent years, and was approximately 10 percent a year since 1978. He predicts this rate of growth to remain at these levels for some time.
He believes this economic growth will continue to benefit the entire country, and goals for China over the coming decades include:
- Improvements in physical development
- Equitable distribution of wealth
- Comfortable, healthy life and living environment
- A civilized social system
- A sound legal community.
All of these factors are positive signs of change for China. This indicates that the number of consumers will continue to grow and this means the demand for American products like those we produce at Allegiant Health will continue to rise.
Mr. Tung Chee Hwa believes China’s economy has entered into a new state or “new normal.” He divides this new normal into five parts:
First, innovation-driven economy
Second, narrowing regional development gap
Third, sustainable development
Fourth, continued reform and opening
Fifth, sharing results of the reform
He believes Chinese leaders are taking the important and courageous initiative to structure economic adjustments. He sees this as the only way toward new development. He believes China’s economy is in a very strong state. However, there are many challenges, including the recent Chinese stock market volatility. Mr. Tung Chee Hwa pointed out that many people have concerns about China. However, he explained that China’s economic rise will not pose a threat to the global leadership of the United States.
China’s population is huge. When calculating the gross national product (GDP), the Chinese economy should be greater than the United States, if the population continues to grow at the existing rate. China’s total GDP and the U.S. GDP will roughly be the same in 10 years’ time. However, China’s per capita GDP will still only be a quarter of the United States’, due the fact that China has such a large population.
In particular, he pointed out that China has never led the world and will not take on this role. China is currently facing enormous domestic problems, especially in the area of improving the lives of its citizens. Even as modern China approaches its 100th anniversary in 2049, it is not looking outward in this capacity. Why? The reason is simple: the Chinese themselves came from a semi-colonial oppressive history, so China will not have this kind of approach, nor will their ideals or doctrine be exported to any other country. In the Ming Dynasty, when China reached 30% of the world’s GDP, they had no external colonial aspirations. China only brought to the world the Oriental civilization. China will always be peaceful.
Mr. Tung Chee Hwa believes the United States will add an investment bank. Sino-U.S. cooperation is a world win-win. In 2016, the world economy is still in a precarious state, many regional hot issues need to be resolved. United States presidents from Nixon to Obama and China’s leaders since Chairman Mao, are deeply aware of the importance of Sino-U.S. exchanges and the strategic significance of Sino-U.S. relations. Working together on global change, the Sino-U.S. cooperation can be a win-win for the world.
For example, China and the United States cooperated in the 2015 World Climate Summit in Paris and successfully cooperated on the Iran nuclear issue. This shows the importance of the Sino-U.S. relationship. China’s “along the way” initiative and the Asian Development Bank infrastructure have been established to support developing countries.
Mr. Tung Chee Hwa’s address was powerful and being part of this event allowed me to meet and interact with leaders from around the globe. The explanation of economic trends in China, and United States-China relations puts in clear perspective where we are headed. While challenges exist, there are many opportunities, and it is clear that Allegiant Health is well-positioned for future growth and expansion into the Chinese market.