China Paradox Webinar Series: The Postscript

Doing Business with China

Recently I moderated a panel of experts as part of the World Trade Center Utah’s China Paradox Series. This was not your run-of-the-mill discussion on China matters. It included speakers from top levels of U.S. business and government leadership, each with decades of China experience.

In Part 1, former Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr., and former Deputy National Security Advisor, Matt Pottinger, discussed the bilateral China-U.S. relationship, foreign policy, specific problems, and what to look for in the coming years. Watch Part 1 below:

In Part 2, four former members of Congress discussed the roles lawmakers have and will continue to have in crafting U.S. policy toward China. These experts included: Martin Gold, Member of he Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations; Former Senator Mary Landrieu, former Chair of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Former Representative Charles Boustany, Former Member of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means; and Former Representative Howard Berman, Former Chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Watch Part 2 below:

In Part 3, foreign policy experts Craig Allen, President of the U.S.-China Business Council, Gary Rieschel, Founding Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, and Matthew Turpin, former National Security Council Director of China Affairs at the White House, discussed China’s economic, trade, and business strategies. They delved into China’s overarching objectives, especially those that are concerning to the U.S. Watch Part 3 below:

In Part 4, I lobbed questions at professional experts Tim Stratford, Managing Partner of Covington & Burling’s Beijing office, Bill Zarit, Former Minister for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in China, and Jeremie Waterman, President of the U.S. Chamber China Center. We discussed what U.S. companies can and should expect when working in China, how well-equipped the U.S. is to address China’s global ambitions, and how to mitigate risk when dealing with China. Watch Part 4 below:

Each of the sessions lasted an hour, and I encourage you to watch them in their entirety. The amount of information shared and the collective speakers’ backgrounds and experiences was extraordinary. And you should follow World Trade Center Utah on YouTube to see past and future content, all of which has been outstanding, timely, and relevant.

In preparing for and reflecting on these events, I wanted to share some of my own insights that might be helpful for our readers.

China’s lack of transparency due to the CCP’s proclivity to constrain the present and rewrite the past hampers all of us. How can we determine facts, truth, or reality when the arbiter of China’s information is inherently suspect? And how can any of us know whether we will be safe visiting China (or anywhere China’s influence reaches) if we exercise our full critical voice? I struggle with self-censorship in my blogging and speaking engagements, often separating China’s systemic issues from business issues. But if I am being intellectually honest, none of the issues can be separated.

Today’s China will not be shamed into reformation. I am by nature a person who loves people and their perspectives, so I believe that enhancing our personal interactions with China (even CCP members) will yield the best results. That means that some of us will need to shoulder an outsized portion of the risk to deepen those relationships. Some will travel to China at the risk of being imprisoned, exit-banned, or even held hostage. Others will hire Chinese nationals and risk intellectual property or other trade secret theft. Still others will recognize that they can research and speak freely if they hazard the risk of never returning to China while the CCP is in power. Each of these constitutes significant risk, but having conversations discussing risk will be the important first step so that each of us can decide what level of risk is necessary and what amount of risk each is comfortable assuming. I have changed throughout my life and seek to improve every day, and in my soul I believe that even CCP comrades can be teachable.

On a personal level, I am committed to do more. My five year-old son will begin a Chinese immersion program this fall, and my two year-old daughter will follow. I am taking tangible steps to raise two of the next generation of China hands. My children and their classmates will have the benefit of my interaction and mentorship at their schools, particularly my encouragement as they work through this extremely difficult language and wrestle with significant policy issues that will arise in their lifetimes. I currently reside in Utah, where 20% of the nation’s Chinese immersion students are enrolled. I will engage with these students at the state, district, or school level as I help them raise their sights beyond merely learning the language.

Last year my co-blogger Fred Rocafort and I started the weekly Global Law and Business podcast. We conceived it as an extension of this blog because our interests and ambitions do not stop at China, and neither do yours. To date we have published over 51 episodes and interacted with professionals and leaders around the world. Feedspot recently recognized us as one of the top five international law podcasts to follow in 2021. We consider the podcast a public forum that we hope is both entertaining and instructive, and we look forward to exposure to additional guests and topics. Our global community is our global family, and we are committed to helping in our global neighborhood.