“I’m guessing that by the end of the year that the U.S.- China relationship is going to be sailing higher and will be more positive as a relationship than at any other time in the 30 years of our formal diplomatic relationship,” Jon Huntsman said. Huntsman is the new U.S. ambassador to China. “That’s just my hunch.”
We’ll take Huntsman’s words on this.
On Sept. 29, China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo remarked that relations between the two countries have developed vigorously since President Obama took office. Obama is scheduled to visit Beijing in November, during a tour of Asia in which he will also visit Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, and Tokyo.
This week, not only are we celebrating China’s 60th National Day on Oct. 1, we are also celebrating 30 years of U.S.–China relations.
During this time, relations between the two rivals have not always been smooth. There have been clashes over trade, human rights practices, and military issues. However, recently, the two countries have cooperated more on global issues such as climate change, energy, and containing North Korea’s nuclear program.
With 30 years behind us, perhaps now is the time to reflect on the importance of this relationship and how it affects us, as Asians and Asian Americans, in the United States.
Of course, as Americans, we can agree or disagree with certain policies and politics regarding China, but we also have to admit that there is an advantage to having the second and third largest economies in the world be Asian countries — Japan and China, respectively. It conveys to the world that Asians are globally competitive.
Think of how far we have come since the first half of the 20th century, before Japan’s economy took off. Prior to that, the world’s superpowers were completely Western, not only on paper but in people’s minds. The perception was that Asians and other non-Westerners were inferior in all aspects. For most Americans at that time, the idea that China would emerge as the third largest economy at the end of the century was completely laughable.
But it has happened.
Of course many of us Asian Americans have our own opinions. For various reasons, some of us believe that strengthening U.S.–China relations is a great thing. Others are more skeptical.
Nevertheless, what is undeniable is that the Asian presence in the United States is growing due to the growth of these Asian economies.
It’s especially notable here in Seattle, as we have companies like Microsoft and Boeing utilizing the technological talents of Asians from overseas.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Asians immigrated here to perform jobs that Americans would not, then they were cast away. Now, many Asians immigrate here to do elite jobs, side-by-side with Americans. That is progress that we can be proud of. ♦