Clark T. Randt, US Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China was WSCRC’s keynote speaker. He was the last on the program and many guests had left by the time he spoke. For those who left, you missed an enlightened yet practical approach on U.S.-China relations for the past 30 years. I heard many US-China speeches and many of them put me to sleep. But Randt gave a balanced perspective with humor and vision.
Although he was the ambassador from 2001-2009, Randt was in China in the 1970s and had lived in Hong Kong for two decades. Being the ambassador is not an easy job given the turmoil involved between the two countries, and yet he served in that role the longest. He knew the old and new China and he talked about US-China’s leaders common goals — prosperity and peace for their people. Forget about the past insults and struggles, which hold us back, is Randt’s view. Instead, strive for the future is what both nations should aim at.
“If China stumbles in its economy, it will be worse for the United States. If we prosper, China prospers,” he said. Speaking in Chinese, he said, “US-China relations is sometimes good, sometimes bad. It’s a bumpy road, but we really get to know each other better.” It is important “to emphasize on the increase of understanding and strategic trust” towards each other.
Rewind to 2004, Randt spoke at WSCRC, but he seemed like a different person. He blasted China’s human rights record. Later, he apologized for his harsh criticism toward China. The reason was he was sick and right after his speech, he was operated for cancer. The truth was Congressman John Wolfe pressured Randt to speak up on China’s human rights record. He complied immediately when he appeared at WSCRC. Randt’s presence at WSCRC stirred up a lot of controversies in Seattle.
I was present then and now. At first, I did not recognize that Randt was the same speaker for both occasions. Going back to our story file in Seattle Chinese Post, our sister paper, which confirmed Randt was the one. We applaud the ambassador for having the guts to return to speak in Seattle.