Only dialogue can lead to peace and mutual prosperity
As someone who believes that the US and China really have no choice but to accept one another and learn to live in peace, I find the news these days very troubling.
On days when I feel optimistic, I tell myself that what we are seeing is just the posturing of two countries, one on the rise following decades of growth and poverty alleviation, and the other struggling to remain relevant after four years of self-imposed isolationism and a year of COVID-19.
On days when I feel realistic, I am close to confident that both nations will come around to the only sane solution, which is to accept — as we’ve done now for 50 years — that there can be two different forms of government that co-exist without either one being "the winner.”
The sensible business communities in both China and the US continue to work together on what China likes to call "win-win cooperation.”
As you may or may not know, General Motors, the quintessential "American” automobile company, founded in 1908 in Flint, Michigan, now has, according to its website, "10 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises and more than 58,000 employees in China.”
And Goldman Sachs is currently buying out its China joint venture partner to make Goldman "the most advanced foreign bank to take full ownership of a mainland securities business.”
That’s just a small piece of the US "win.” As for the Chinese "win,” these "US companies” are now partially or wholly owned by China: General Electric, AMC, Snapchat and Hilton Hotels.
In fact, so intertwined are the economies of China and the US that, according to Investopedia, China now owns US$1.095 trillion, or about 4 percent, of the US$28 trillion US national debt.
US President Joe Biden recently said, "China’s eating our lunch.” Well, perhaps that’s because China has invested in our lunch. And, meanwhile, the US has also invested in China’s lunch.
So why can’t we all just stop complaining and eat lunch together?
As a producer of kid’s TV shows which typically have both a US and a Chinese partner, I have experienced these mutually beneficial relationships first hand. My first foray into China’s mainland was in the 90’s working on the US/China coproduction of Sesame Street and, more recently, I was the Executive Producer of two animated TV series, Super Wings with China’s Alpha Group, and P. King Duckling with UYoung. Both shows found success in China and the US.
What my limited experience has shown me is that cooperation between China and the US is not only possible, it’s interesting, enjoyable and it leads to unique, high-quality "win-win” results.
And, for those skeptics, I’d like to add that I have found Chinese companies to be gracious, professional, and more than happy to abide by all international rules and best practices. For these reasons, I’ve developed a deep and abiding respect for China. I’ve seen how diligently China has developed its country, and I believe China deserves its hard-won success.
My hope for the coming year is that both sides will tone down their rhetoric.
What we need is more dialogue. We need to do what Chinese and American companies do every day of the week, which is to find constructive and mutually beneficial ways to help both economies grow and flourish.
Josh Selig is the founder and president of China Bridge Content, a company committed to building strong creative and business ties between China and the world in the media sector.