'China, US share more similarities than differences'

Li Qian
American Gene Hartigan, the associate chairman of the US-China Cooperation and Development Committee, says businesses have to see China through Chinese eyes and not American eyes.
Li Qian

Shot byJiang Xiaowei. Edited byLi Qian, Jiang Xiaowei. Reported byLi Qian. Subtitles byLi Qian.

Gene Hartigan knows a thing or two about China-US ties.

Over the last two decades, the American has made 31 trips to China and has previously worked with government agencies, shipping businesses, airlines, technological start-ups, and educational institutions, among others.

He is currently the associate chairman of the US-China Cooperation and Development Committee and a director of the Shanghai Zhangjiang Boston Enterprise Park's board.

He has spent decades encouraging cooperation and understanding between the two countries and shared his thoughts with Shanghai Daily in an exclusive interview at this year's Pujiang Innovation Forum.

China, he says, is a key actor on the global stage and will play a major role in innovation.

"But the most important thing in dealing with businesses is that they understand China and look at China through Chinese eyes, not American eyes," he remarked.

He believes China and the United States are a perfect match since the two countries share more similarities than differences, despite having different governments and leaders.

Americans value education just as China values education. Americans work hard, and China works even harder. Both Chinese and Americans enjoy doing things together. "They're very communal," he says.

"All of us have to be on the same plane," he added. "To make it work and be effective, we must all look at things from the same perspective."

He admitted that it would take time. "Both countries must recognize that they are not enemies but rather competitive partners."

'China, US share more similarities than differences'
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The Inno-Match Expo at Zhangjiang Science Hall is a highlight of the Pujiang Innovation Forum.

When asked what had impressed him during his years in China, he said it was the Chinese people's perseverance.

"To manage an economy three times the size of America's, which is still changing, is what most impresses me," he remarked. "Chinese people are so resilient that they're out there doing what they have to do, making changes."

And the media must portray the true face of today's China, where changes occur at all times.

Hartigan was invited to participate in the Inno-Match Expo, a highlight of the forum, held at the Zhangjiang Science Hall over the weekend.

It serves as a platform for regions and countries, as well as start-ups and business tycoons, universities, and industrial parks, to demonstrate their advantages and development potential in order to promote global technology transfers.

"What strikes me the most about this place is the number of young people, because they are our future. Those are the people who will create things for our generation and the generation after that," he remarked.

He also updated everyone on the latest developments at the Shanghai Zhangjiang Boston Enterprise Park.

It is a venture that Shanghai began years ago in Marlborough, Massachusetts, among major colleges like Harvard and Yale, as well as biomedical giants like Boston Scientific and GE Healthcare. It is the first instance of a Sino-US high-tech park.

Progress had stalled due to the pandemic, but it is now gradually resuming, with about half of the available space leased.

"Right now, we're focusing on bringing together the right Chinese companies to open up space in our building, as well as the right American company to partner with them.

"And then, once they've established their relationship, that's when we bring a company over to China, to do products here and innovation there; that's the key, but it takes time," he explained.

Special Reports