Harvard — October 12, 2011 3:56 pm

Live Blog: An Address by the Chinese Ambassador to the US

By and

Ambassador Zhang Yesui of the People's Republic of China. Photo Credits: Daniel Barry/Getty Images.

The HPR reports on an address from the visiting diplomat.

3:56 Harleen Gambhir here, getting ready for a public address from Ambassador Zhang Yesui from the Republic of China. Ambassador Zhang has been the chief diplomat to the US since 2010, and previously represented his country at the United Nations (2008-2010) following a five year appointment as Vice Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The talk begins at 4:15, when I will be joined by fellow HPR reporter Benjamin Zhou.

4:19 Benjamin Zhou here.  I will be posting tonight/this afternoon using blue.  I’m excited to see this man, as I’ve heard quite a bit about him from the parents back home. Grandparents were especially excited as they don’t traditionally have  much access to their officials back in China.  We’re a few minutes past the original starting time, but I guess even ambassadors operate on Harvard Time.

4:26 Initial Observation: Ambassador is not out yet, but the crowd is decidedly homogenous.  The majority of the crowd seems to be of Asian descent, understandably so, considering the relevance of the speaker to Asian affairs.  Like always, the venue is much too small for the crowd, with the majority of the people in Weiner auditorium standing.

4:27 Microphones aren’t working, so Professor Nicholas Burns “filibusters” until technology starts to cooperate. He says that “there is no more important diplomatic relationship in the world than that between China and the United States.” NOTE: The prepared address is on-record, while the questions afterwards are off-record. Sorry, guys.

 4:32 Two topics: China-US relations and the impact of China’s development on the world. This year marks the 40th anniversary of renewed diplomatic relations between China and the US. Props to Harvard alumni Henry Kissinger ’50 for that.

4:38 China and the US will inevitably “not see eye-to-eye” because one is developing and the other is developed. We will have disagreements. We should not have a “zero-sum game relationship” or a “Cold War mindset.” Why does all of this talking about not being at odds make me feel like we’re at odds?

4:38 Ambassador Zhang is emphasizing economic ties between US and China.  All in all, statements sound highly Huntsman-esque in their support of stronger US-China ties.  References how “zero-sum game” and “Cold War mentality” are both irrelevant to the modern relationship between the two states.

4:46 The Ambassador acknowledges the trade imbalance, but dodges the issue by pointing to a period of increase in American employment. Taiwan is touched upon briefly, but only in that China wants to be able to deal with the issue on its own (meaning a halt of current sale of arms from the US to Taiwan).

 4:48 Issue over under-valued RMB discussed, on the tail of rhetoric spilled at last night’s Republican debate at Dartmouth.  Provides rebuttal that RMB has, in fact, appreciated significantly over the past few years.  This is a product, I believe, of President Hu’s visit and his promises a  little while back.

4:50 “We will forge ahead [economically]…for the good of the people of China.” The ambassador claims that development in China can contribute to the well-being of the world.  For the third time, he gives statistics related to the extent of US exports to China.  I’m sensing a pattern. 

4:57 Reiterates commitment to addressing climate change, but there must be “shared responsibility.”

4:57 Ambassador Zhang is discussing China’s effect on the world stage in the form of aid, brokering international talks, and non-proliferation.  Interesting conundrum for the USA: Does America want China to play a larger role in global governance?  It means that the far-reaching hand of the US will not be as powerful, but it means that we are no longer solely on the hook to be the world’s policemen, as the world’s guiding moral force (at least in it’s eyes)

4:58 In response to Harleen’s last comment, many people would argue that the United States has the same viewpoint.  As recently as last Sunday, Huntsman was responding to calls for concessions towards addressing climate change by claiming that China would need to make similar concessions for such measures to be effective.  With the Kyoto Protocols likely to expire in 2012, this will once again be on the table for discussion.

5:00 “China and the United States, two great nations, share an enormous shared responsibility…with unique vision, courage, and wisdom…[we] can create a new trail…so the world can flourish.” Connects it to a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote– another head nod to an alumni. And with that, the talk is done. Overall, he managed to touch on almost every major issue under the umbrella of US-China relations (at a dizzying pace for your faithful live bloggers)- trade imbalance, Taiwan, humanitarian initiatives, climate change, industrial development…but not much than the party line was given, which I suppose was to be expected. Ben, thoughts?

5:02 Nothing scandalous, nothing surprising – a fairly predictable, yet compelling address from the Honorable Ambassador Zhang Yesui.  He was very good at employing statistics to accomplish two goals: fostering the idea of a strong China-US Partnership and well as providing a convincing argument that many of the conflicts between the US and China are exaggerated or misconceptions.  With that said, most of the major points of controversy between the US and China were discussed (South China Sea, Trade Deficits, RMB Pegging, etc.) and taken head-on.  As a whole, as a strong believer in international partnership, I felt that this presentation left me a tad more hopeful coming out than going in (the stats he provided helped).  Now, Q&A! Hopefully, he will be more open and less state department-esque in this session as it is off the record.  However, considering the schemas I have about the Chinese government, I doubt  that this will be the case.

5:19 Addendum: We can’t post from the Q&A session, but man, we are getting into some dicey subjects. Wish you all were here. 

custom writing