While at Beijing University the students asked Dr. Zha if he thought the upcoming U.S. presidential election would have any effect on our country’s relations. I’m not sure the professor even took the time to blink his eyes before he uttered “no.” Dr. Zha then took a long pause and gave greater explanation for his quick response.
First and foremost, according to the professor, it is more corporate/business control that is directing our two nations current relationship than politics. But even more important, the Americans and the Chinese seem to be getting along very well for two nations with such disparate political ideologies. Indeed, much to the chagrin of the Europeans that feel they have been boxed out by the affair and who exclaimed recently in a Stockholm international conference (attended by Dr. Zha) that the Chinese now appear to utilize their excellent English with acquired American accents (y’all come back now, here?!).
Dr. Zha came to a very simple conclusion about where the strength of the current cooperative venture between America and China can be located. It can be found in the tens of thousands of respectful and caring relationships that have blossomed in recent years. It started with business, but now it expands to the academics, the arts and beyond. He professed that there is no undoing of all of that. Granted, American business initially expedited the build-up in the rush to cheap foreign labor. But now (according to Zha) we move on, knowing each other much better, speaking much the same language, and staying connected in a manner that is swayed little by either of our nation’s political ideologies. Both America and especially China have many challenges now and ahead, according to Dr. Zha. He offered that there is strength and hope for both in the new ultra-connected world community.
I look around the bus and upon students who are gradually becoming more like sons and daughters. The adult chaperones have become a well-organized team. We know each other’s strengths. Our Chinese guides are now good friends. We all started with the simple understanding that there may be something to be gained by coming together. We started with offering respect and the intention to care for each other. In these few short days we have become our own little community. That can happen between nations, also. I understand what Dr. Zha was talking about. Life is about relationships . . . and little else.
Mo Tang Mu
(Dr. Tom Moline)