Jimmy Carter has some advice on how to make America great again

China Plus Published: 2019-04-17 21:21:00
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Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs".

Former United States President Jimmy Carter revealed on Sunday that President Donald Trump had called him over the weekend for the first time to discuss America's relationship with China. He said President Trump voiced his concerns about China "getting ahead of" the United States, which Carter said was not something he feared. The 94-year-old, who oversaw the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries 40 years ago, spoke about the call during a church service in Plains, Georgia on Sunday morning. He pointed out that the United States is "the most warlike nation in the history of the world", and that "China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that's why they're ahead of us."

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter at President Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017. Carter and Trump spoke over the phone for the first time on Saturday, April 13, 2019, discussing America's relationship with China. [Photo: Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK]

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter at President Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017. Carter and Trump spoke over the phone for the first time on Saturday, April 13, 2019, discussing America's relationship with China. [Photo: IC/Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK]

Carter's remarks are a demonstration of his strategic vision and great sense of responsibility as a veteran statesman. President Trump may want to consult with him more often when it comes to handling America's relationships with other countries.

President Trump's concerns about China surpassing the United States are understandable when one considers that Washington has long been the most powerful voice in world affairs. With China now firmly in second place in terms of the size of its economy, Washington's concerns have grown deeper. Hawkish politicians have taken advantage of this situation: They have fostered the mindset that China is a strategic rival to the United States, and used the unease about China's growing strength as a crutch to shore up their own support base in domestic politics.

But the changes in the relations between China and the United States over the past year have shown that the use of tactics like the trade war to suppress growth in China didn't achieve the results Washington had been hoping for. Last week, China became the only major economy whose 2019 growth forecast was revised up by the International Monetary Fund. By comparison, the organization cut the growth forecast for the United States. This was not the result the American hardliners were hoping for, looking as they were to see China's growth dampened under American pressure. This adds weight to Carter's argument that China is vital for the development of the United States.

President Trump says he wants to "Make America great again", and the former president has a sensible suggestion: don't waste money on wars and don't always try to impose American values on other countries. "If you take 3 trillion dollars and put it in American infrastructure, you'd probably have 2 trillion dollars left over," he said. "We'd have high-speed railroad. We'd have bridges that aren't collapsing. We'd have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong." It's only by abandoning unilateralism and power politics, making the welfare of the American people its top priority, and enhancing its economic competitiveness, that the United States can become great again.

China's government knows this well. That's why it's focused on helping the Chinese people to pursue a better life rather than trying to impose its will on people of other countries. It wants to build a shared future for mankind that is based on the principle of achieving shared growth through collaboration. And Beijing has made it clear that it is willing to work with Washington to make this dream of common prosperity a reality.

The 39th president of the United States regards America's normalization of diplomatic relations with China as "an especially historic achievement." The country's 45th president would do well to reflect on the benefits this achievement has delivered for the people of the United States.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.