Admiral William Owens, Chairman of AEA Investors, Asia and former Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
China: Economic and Trade Relations
Keynote speaker Admiral William Owens praised the dialogue that rose from a high-level conference on China’s economic and trade relations, hosted at SIPA on November 10.
The all-day interdisciplinary discussion brought together leading experts from academia, government, and the private sector to discuss the economic tensions and opportunities in the relationships between China and developed economies. The sessions highlighted trade, investment, capital markets, and technology.
The conference was organized by Professor Merit E. Janow, director of SIPA’s International Finance and Economic Policy concentration. It was structured as an off-the-record round-table event to allow participants to speak candidly, thus fostering open debate and uninhibited exchange of ideas in a brainstorming spirit.
Professor Janow encouraged participants to be bold and think freely about ideas to promote relations between China and the developed world.
“I thought it was really thorough in its coverage of the areas of trade, finance, investment, and relationship,” said Admiral Owens, after the final session of the day.
“I think Professor Janow brought together a strong group of people from government, academia and the private sector. I hope that she can continue this dialogue because it is incredibly important – the relationship between the U.S. and China is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough opportunities for dialogue of this quality.”
In addition to interdisciplinary experts on China, there were strong voices from other Pacific Rim nations, including Japan.
Taizo Nishimuro, an adviser and the former chairman of Toshiba Corporation, emphasized the importance of a good relationship, communication, and economic cooperation between China and Japan, not only in relation to each other, but in relation to the world stage and globalization.
“The interdependence of Japan and China has increased immensely,” said Mr. Nishimuro during his keynote address.
“I understand that this is the first occasion that this type of meeting is taking place out here, and I think this is very educative because all the people here know China well. The general overview is this conference was very valuable.”
Zhang Lanlan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of CICC US Securities, Inc., was a voice from China.
“I think this is a very good event,” said Lanlan. “It brings people from different perspectives and angles together. After that, I think everyone will be able to understand what the Chinese thinking could be, and I think Mr. Chen [Chen Zhiwu, Professor of Finance, Yale School of Management] made a very good point that we should spend time on each other’s territories to understand each other better.”
Although the event was closed to general observers, a few students who are focusing on China in the IFEP concentration were invited to listen. Among them was Ehsan Iraniparast (MIA ’12), who served as note-taker. He is a fellow at the Columbia University Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Study Center (APEC), a sponsor of the event.
“It seems a recurring theme… is that there’s a lot of misperception, and a lot of it is due to societal and cultural issues,” said Ehsan. “We don’t get how their businesses and governments operate, and they don’t understand how we operate domestically.”
“What’s encouraging is, the people here, they seem to get it,” Ehsan continued. “You see that there are a lot of people who do understand, but pushing it to the top level so the U.S. government and Chinese government can convey the right messages – that seems to be the challenge.”
Other participants included:
· Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Indian Political Economy at SIPA
· Jeffrey Shafer, Adjunct Professor at SIPA; former Vice Chairman of Global Banking, Citigroup; former Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs
· Wei Shang-Jin, N. T. Wang Professor of Chinese Business and Economy, Columbia Business School; Director of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business
· David Loevinger, Executive Secretary and Senior Coordinator for China Affairs and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, U.S. Treasury
· Frank Hatheway, Chief Economist, NASDAQ OMX Group Inc.
· Olin Wethington, Chairman, Wethington International; former Chair, AIG Asia
· Xue Lan, Executive Associate Dean of School of Public Policy and Management and Executive Vice President of the Development Research Academy for the 21st Century, Tsinghua University
· Michitaka Nakatomi, Principal Trade Negotiator, Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry of Japan
Organized by Professor Janow, the conference was sponsored by SIPA; Columbia Business School’s Center on Japanese Economy and Business and Jerome E. Chazen Institute of International Business; Columbia Law School; Weatherhead East Asia Institute; Center for International Business Education and Research; and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Study Center.
- Michelle Chahine