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Ezra Vogel: Treating China as an Enemy Damages the Interests of the U.S. and Other Countries

Apr 23, 2021
  • Jiang Jiang

    Vice President, Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries

Good morning, everyone. My name is Jiang Jiang and I joined the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries a month ago, but I do recognize Bob Ross, whom I met about 20 years ago, and also Steve, because I was present at the retirement ceremony of Professor Vogel. It's nice to see you all. 

Today I'm honored to join all of you in commemorating Professor Vogel. I had the opportunity to meet him many times during my previous visits to Harvard and also during some of his visits to China, and I benefit greatly from his wisdom and his insight. I think people will remember him for the many outstanding achievements that he made and also the fine qualities that he demonstrated. But for me, three things about Professor Vogel impressed me the most. 

The first one is his embrace of diversity. Throughout his life, Professor Vogel had always respected people from different cultures. He never criticized the object of his study due to ideological differences; rather, he followed a professional and scholarly approach. He made great efforts to make in-depth studies of countries with different cultures, such as China and Japan. He made great efforts to help the American people get an accurate understanding of other cultures. 

The second thing that impressed me the most is his meticulous scholarship. Earlier in his life, he went to Japan and came to China to study the languages to prepare himself for his future academic career, and his proficiency in these languages enabled him to communicate directly with the local people, thus getting first hand knowledge about these cultures. His books and his articles were based on in-depth studies of the situation and careful fact checking. In other words, he respected facts, and I think that explains why all his works became instant best sellers. 

The third thing that impressed me the most, and also the most important one is his long time commitment to the growth of China-US relationship. He was one of the first US scholars to call for engagement between China and the United States. And I think that to a large extent, his views influenced the policy-making process in the United States. As he said in an interview, both the United States and China are big countries in a small world. We are closely linked with each other, and we can't walk away from each other. The two countries, though different in political system, culture and value, are faced with a lot of common challenges, such as economic development, health care, and environmental sustainability. In the past few years, in the face of the severe difficulty in the relationship between China and the United States, Professor Vogel, like many responsible scholars who truly cared about China-US relationship, stood out to voice concerns and called for the right approach to our relationship. Together with some other scholars, he warned the US administration that treating China as an enemy would damage the interests of the United States and other countries. Despite the differences, the two countries should engage in dialogue and exchanges. I fully agree with him: there are so many things that link China and the United States together. China-US relationship is not a zero-sum game and one side's success does not have to mean the failure of the other. We have to work together. I hope that in this new year we will see improvements in the relationship between our two countries. I hope that the two sides will restart dialogue, rebuild trust, and bring the relationship back on the track of sound development. This will serve the interests of both sides. 

I want to say that the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries will do whatever we can to help promote mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries. I look forward to your insight and views as to how we can learn from Professor Vogel's legacy so that together we can contribute to the sound growth of the relationship between China and the United States. Thank you. 

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