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This transcript appears in the July 22, 2022 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this transcript]

George Koo

U.S.-China Cultural Relations Are Critical To Prevent War

This is the edited transcript of the presentation by George Koo to Panel 4, “Classical Culture and the Dialogue of Civilizations,” of the Schiller Institute’s June 18–19 Conference, “There Can Be No Peace Without the Bankruptcy Reorganization of the Dying Trans-Atlantic Financial System.” Mr. Koo is a retired business consultant specializing in U.S.-China trade and is currently Chairman of the Burlingame Foundation.

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Schiller Institute
George Koo

Thank you for the invitation to participate in this international conference.

I’m honored and delighted to address the subject of the rivalry between the United States and China. This is a particularly befuddling rivalry full of contradictions. The U.S. has been the world’s hegemon and openly proclaims its desire to continue to maintain that position in being the world’s only superpower.

China has always recognized the U.S. as the only superpower and has expressed no desire to compete or dislodge the American perch on top of the hill. Yet, every other utterance by the Biden team accuses China of wanting to take over as the world hegemon.

I say “every other utterance” because the spokesperson, whether from State or Defense, or advisor to President Biden, or even Biden himself, always starts by saying the U.S. only wishes to compete and cooperate with China, then from the other side of the mouth, declares China as America’s hostile enemy.

American accusations of China cover a wide range of “unacceptable” behavior. Such as China having the temerity to complain about U.S. naval ships patrolling the South China Seas. Such as drafting a national development plan that threatens to surpass the U.S. in certain technology sectors. Such as using semiconductor technology to make gadgets that the American consumer wants to buy. Such as developing factory automation to produce low-cost appliances for American households.

If those accusations are not sufficiently hostile, the Biden White House has conjured up others. Such as alleging human rights abuse in Xinjiang that the visiting UN High Commissioner could not verify—much less finding signs of “genocide.” Such as alleging that young Uyghur women are forced to slave over cotton fields full of mechanical harvesters bought from John Deere, the American manufacturer.

In response, China settles for publishing their annual report on human rights violations in the U.S., itemizing some of the “imperfections” in the American model of democracy. For example, in the U.S., death by gunfire is a daily occurrence and mass shooting more than breaking weekly news.

The most urgent national issue that takes up so much oxygen in America is whether a woman has the right to decide what is right and good for her own body.

National political figures, in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution and who have broken many laws, such as Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Peter Navarro, and Donald Trump have yet to spend a single day in jail. We’re still dealing with highways that are still full of potholes. Fear of law enforcement by people of color has not lessened in any way. Elections, as we know, are far from free, and have been questioned as to their integrity and legitimacy. Instead, the cost of political campaigns has risen geometrically with every campaign season. Nothing is “free.” It’s all about money.

So, my own personal observation as heretofore a proud American, but now very concerned for the future of my grandkids is this: The country has degenerated into a single fixation about money and personal power. No one in a position of national leadership cares a whit about what is good for the country and what hard decisions we have to make.

China is very different from the U.S.—historically, culturally and philosophically. China does not go around the world telling other nations that “I win, you lose if you don’t join my alliance.” China does not ask anyone to choose sides. They simply approach each country for opportunities to collaborate and find win-win projects. That’s the whole logic behind their Belt and Road Initiative.

China tries to make friends. China does not ask countries to ally with them nor ask their friends to act against their own national interests. China, for example, would not ask Germany or Italy to stop buying oil and natural gas from Russia, nor to stop trading with their major trading partners.

In other words, China’s approach to international relations makes it easy for any country to establish friendly relations, in contrast to America’s approach, which is “my way or the highway.” Getting along with the U.S. is somewhat like sleeping with a tiger, never knowing when the “friend” will turn on you and decide that your loyalty to the U.S. is expendable.

Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken goes around the world to recruit allies, acting like business as usual and nothing has changed. In fact, much has changed. What was once a unipolar world that revolves around America is devolving into a multipolar one. The [Ninth] Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles earlier this month, hosted by President Biden, is just the latest indication. Many Latin American countries including Mexico found reasons not to attend. Nothing like throwing a party that used to be a must-show event, that nations now decide to skip.

I would like to conclude my remarks by bringing up the crucial question of the hour, namely where does Taiwan stand between the two great powers?

Many in the mainstream media and the Biden Administration are suggesting that Taiwan is to mainland China as Ukraine is to Russia. That is to say, Taiwan could be convinced to trigger the next front of military conflict by provoking China.

The same pundits and officials proclaimed success in convincing the Ukrainians to fight the Russian forces down to the very last Ukrainian. While the ultimate outcome of this proxy war for the U.S. remains to be seen, some of the consequential blowback from the conflict is already evident and damaging to the U.S. prestige and reputation.

The EU is bearing the brunt of the outpour of refugees from Ukraine, and by paying significantly higher prices for their energy and facing shortages of staples. The EU is questioning the wisdom of following the U.S.-imposed sanctions and dictums that create rampant inflation for their own people. Incidentally, American inflation is caused by the same factors, but so far, the U.S. government has succeeded in glossing over the cause and effect to the American people.

To provoke war with China, the Taipei government would have to declare independence. Washington has been encouraging the ruling DPP (the Democratic Progressive Party) to inch toward that red line, selling the party leaders the idea that the U.S. is ready to go to war for Taiwan.

However, a great majority of people in Taiwan do not find American assurances credible, do not believe Taiwan can win a proxy war against China, and cannot justify in their hearts the death and destruction just to keep Washington happy. The people in Taiwan also find it inconceivable that China would actually attack their own people on Taiwan, unless provoked in the extreme.

The current leadership in Washington seems dead-set on confrontation with China. Their zero-sum approach does not leave room for compromise or collaboration. I worry a lot but have no way of predicting when and if the U.S. will back off. Hopefully, conferences of this kind by the Schiller Institute and others will convince the American public that our government needs to change the course leading to disaster.

Thank you very much.

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