Let Hu Jintao Say “Thank You” to Congress

The schedule is still being worked out for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington DC in the middle of this month. These visits are always difficult as China and the US are tied together in so many ways but the two countries also have many areas of deep disagreement and suffer intransigent ideological friction. President Hu, who will retire just 14 months after this visit, wants to come out of the visit with sufficient “face” that his journey can play back home as a respectful meeting of equals.

But filling in all of the details – Hu meets with whom; when, where and under what controlled circumstances does he appear in public; what message does he convey to Americans and how can that be spun back home – is a nightmare for Chinese and American officials responsible for the arrangements.

But we Americans are wonderful hosts. We treat guests with respect, and we enjoy listening to a wide range of views. Since China has been so kindly funding our massive budget deficits for so many years, the time has come for us to say thank you in a big way. And perhaps the best way for us to do that is to allow President Hu to address a joint session of Congress, an honor rarely afforded to foreign dignitaries.

About a month ago, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote a wonderful column in which he created a fake Wikileaks memo from the Chinese embassy in the US back to Beijing. In the fake Wikileaks memo, the Chinese embassy discusses how well things are going for China because American politicians are wasting all their time trying to destroy each other and focusing on frivolous issues, as if they have all the time in the world to play such games as China focuses on national development and moves rapidly ahead.

Reading today’s Washington Post reminded me of Tom’s column.

In the spirit of Tom’s column, perhaps we open-minded and friendly Americans should really give President Hu Jintao a chance to say thank you directly to the US Congress.  It appears that the next Congress is poised to launch an agenda that is a gift-wrapped present to China. Republican leaders in the House and Senate say they are focused on defeating Obama, repealing nearly everything he did in the past two years and launching investigations into every orifice of the administration. Not a word so far on any plans for the country actually making progress, despite the global competition we face from China, India and others.

 We really should give President Hu a chance to address a joint session of Congress. Chinese culture is very steeped in the rites and rituals of the exchange of gifts – and it could be construed as an insult in China for America to be handing China such incredible gifts and not give the country’s leader a chance to say thank you in person.

Excerpt:

House Republican leaders announced plans Monday for congressional investigations into a wide range of issues, from corruption in Afghanistan to Washington’s regulation of private industries, using the power of their new majority to launch probes that could embarrass the Obama administration.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who will become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when the 112th Congress is sworn in Wednesday, said he would lead six major investigations in the first three months of the year. This is an ambitious undertaking by conventional standards, as congressional investigations often take months to bear fruit.

Issa, who will have power to subpoena government officials to appear before the committee, said he intended to conduct inquiries into the release of classified diplomatic cables by Wikileaks; recalls at the Food and Drug Administration; the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s failure to identify the origins of the meltdown; as well as business regulations and alleged corruption in Afghanistan.

Other incoming Republican committee chairmen are planning investigations into the Justice Department’s civil rights division, the radicalization of Muslims in the United States, homeland security grant money and air cargo and port and chemical plant security…..

Link: http://wapo.st/fpxBU5

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About James McGregor
James McGregor is an American author, journalist and businessman who has lived in China for more than 25 years. Currently, he is chairman of APCO Worldwide, Greater China. A professional speaker and commentator who specializes in China’s business, politics and society, he regularly appears in the media to discuss China-related topics. McGregor is the author of the books "No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenges of Chinese Authoritarian Capitalism" (2012) and "One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China" (2005). He also wrote the 2010 report "China’s Drive for ‘Indigenous Innovation’ – A Web of Industrial Policies." From 1987 to 1990 McGregor served as The Wall Street Journal’s bureau chief in Taiwan, and from 1990 to 1994 as the paper’s bureau chief in Mainland China. From 1994 to 2000, he was chief executive of Dow Jones & Company in China. After leaving Dow Jones, he was China managing partner for GIV Venture Partners, a $140 million venture capital fund specializing in the Chinese Internet and technology outsourcing. In 1996, McGregor was elected as chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. He also served for a decade as a governor of that organization. He is a member of the Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations, National Committee on US-China Relations and International Council of the Asia Society. He serves on a variety of China-related advisory boards.

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