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Happy Year of the Snake!
I have some major catching up to do so let me begin here with a link to my book which the Wilson Center launched on September 24, 2012. (Note: if you want to download the PDF of the book, just right-click and use the Save As option).
More 2012/3 updates to follow in rapid sequence.
Thanks for hanging in there,
This is the first of regular weekly Cooketop News blog posts (scheduled to appear each Monday).
By reviewing the previous week’s top stories involving — broadly speaking — China clean energy, the idea is to identify and comment on a particular emerging trend/issue which points forward and can help illuminate news-in-the-making for the week(s) ahead.
By radio analogy, the commentary is meant to cut through static in the general coverage of whatever’s the issue at hand and present a clear frequency and better ‘signal-processing’ for helping to tune in on an enduring news issue.
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THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY — HUNTSMAN, REPUBLICANS & CHINA
Last week was the Iowa caucus and Tuesday of this week the New Hampshire primary. The related questions which these contests have raised are what have Jon Huntsman’s China connections and qualifications done for his campaign effort and what are the implications for China given the current crop of Republican candidates.
Let’s start with the second question. Liz Economy from the Council of Foreign Relations has done a better job than anyone at assessing the remaining field of candidates through the lens of their public positions on China. To borrow liberally from her analysis, here’s what we’re looking at:
Mitt Romney says it’s all about the economy, stupid: Mitt Romney’s China policy is all about trade measures —keeping counterfeits out, protecting intellectual property, levying sanctions against unfair trade practices, pressing China on its currency, etc. The question for an anti-”Big Government” candidate is who does all this work if not the government.
Ron Paul wants to make love, not war: Ron Paul appears to want to “go along to get along” with China: stop intrusive surveillance, reconsider the Taiwan Relations Act, drop the idea of import tariffs in retaliation for Beijing’s currency manipulation, and mute protestations over human rights issues. As Economy has put it, there’s little doubt that “candidate Paul …would be Beijing’s pick for top dog.”
Jon Huntsman is long on experience but short on traction: No surprise that the expertise in China policy is with former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. Huntsman has all his facts in line. You can agree or disagree with his specific positions — opposing a China currency bill or engaging to promote political change in China—but you have to admit he knows his stuff.
Newt Gingrich jettisons balance to keep ship afloat: Gingrich’s initial positions in the campaign were balanced and reasonable, calling on the U.S. to do the right thing and take action on the home front in order to be more competitive. As his electoral options have narrowed though, his positions appear to be veering in a more extreme direction. Stay tuned for his advertising campaign in South Carolina to see if he starts demonizing China.
With Rick Santorum, the question is ’Where’s the beef?’: Despite having a lengthy book and a Senatorial career in the public record, there’s almost nothing to go on to explain how Santorum would approach China if elected President. He did make a quote about going “to war with China” to “make America the most attractive place in the world to do business.” Huh?.
Rick Perry talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk: “Communist China is destined for the ash heap of history because they are not a country of virtues. When you have 35,000 forced abortions a day…, when you have the cyber security that the PLA has been involved with, those are great major issues both morally and security-wise that we’ve got to deal with now.” His actions? Courting Huawei, a problematic company, to invest in Texas.
So, on to the related question, what has Jon Huntsman’s Mandarin-speaking ability and Ambassadorial command of the issues meant for his election prospects? The answer, like a Rorschach, depends entirely on who you talk to. His proponents invariably cite it as a positive (see NY Times article) and his detractors cite it as a liability (see story from last Thursday below). Where’s the traction? Answer: there’s maybe some but not much.
Fault-lines have been exposed in the body politic over these questions. There’s no question that one of Ron Paul’s supporters went way, way over the line by insinuating Huntsman was questionably ‘American’ because he and his wife keep their adoptive children from China and India exposed to cultural traditions from those two civilizations, but nonetheless ideological conservatives generally seem to view his competence with China as itself a cause for suspicion.
The first generation of Mandarin competent statesmen drew heavily from the offspring of Christian missionaries who grew up in China, people like the late Ambassador James Lilley. Huntsman represents a second wave of high-level U.S. government officials who have Mandarin-competence through their two years of Mormon service abroad. (Tim Stratford, a former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China, is another example of this group of experts). The third wave will come from younger Americans who, in step with China’s opening to the world, have been able to burrow deeper into language and cultural expertise. They are making their way up the ladder of the U.S. government. I can only hope that the American electorate — and the Republican Party — can find a way to value the knowledge they bring to public service. The top rank of challenges which the U.S. faces will simply not be solved without constructive and effective engagement with China — and that requires people who understand, respect, and can operate in the sphere of Chinese language, culture and values.
(Disclosure: I have worked at various points in my career for Jim Lilley, Jon Huntsman, and Tim Stratford.)
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LAST WEEK’S COOKETOP NEWS
Here’s a listing of some of the top stories covered in Cooketop News for Week 1 of 2012 (with hyperlinks):
Monday, January 2, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
‘Culture Campaign’ Dents Programming
Green Cars & Clean Energy: The China Angle
Cleaner Technology in Global Arctic Oil Race
Chinese Philanthropists Join to Protect Nature
China’s IPOs Top World’s Exchanges Despite Slump
Thursday, January 5, 2011
Air Pollution Hazardous for China’s Economic Health
Drought Drying out Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province
Rustbelt Cities Go Green to Strengthen Economies
China’s Corporate Debt Issuance Soars in 2011
Huntsman’s China Cred No Boost to his Prospects
Econ Ties to China Key Issue in Taiwan Election
Friday, January 6, 2011
10 Emerging Sustainable Cities to Watch
Solar Turbine Makers Turn to India & China
U.S. Manufacturers of Steel Wind Towers Cite China
LDK Solar Snags $64mm from PRC for U.S. Projects
China Announces Plan to Levy Carbon Tax by 2015
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That’s it for this week. I hope you find this of some value to your own pursuits. Give me a holler — either by leaving a comment below or by email — to let me know what you think, positive or negative. For anyone with a driving passion to get each day’s edition of Cooketop News (minus the summary listing and commentary that I provide in this weekly post), you can subscribe by going to the Cooketop News site at http://paper.li/mterrycooke/1324752421 and clicking on the upper-right Subscribe button. There is also an Archive feature on the site (upper-center) which allows you to look up any previous edition.
Oh, before signing off, I owe you an answer to the question in the title. Jon Huntsman’s name in Chinese? 洪博培. (And by the way, if you try searching for the name on China’s Twitter clone — Weibo — when you’re in China, you’ll likely find the name has been blocked).
In the spirit of sharing news while it’s fresh, I’m copying verbatim a report on the gold nugget in the pile of dross that has passed for this year’s national budget process.
For those of you who took in (in person or digitally) the Philadelphia’s 21st Century Energy Opportunity event I convened with the Academy of Natural Sciences and the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies on October 11th, the win is obvious — for the City and the region, for the national effort for cleaner energy jobs and investment, and for our global engagement. For U.S./China clean energy cooperation, this budget victory also solidifies the framework of U.S./China Clean Energy Research Centers CERC) in building energy efficiency (Lawrence Berkeley Lab), electric vehicles (University of Michigan) and clean coal (University of West Virginia).
Kudos to Mark Muro and Bruce Katz for their success in keeping this ball moving down the field. Here’s the report from late yesterday afternoon.
Notwithstanding the bleak outlook surrounding federal clean energy policy detailed in our recent report “Sizing the Clean Economy,” the FY 2012 omnibus spending compromise hammered out last week actually contains several reassuring affirmations of the value of recent institutional experiments.
One winner is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, perhaps the Department of Energy’s most popular program.
Although the program is funded at just $275 million–about half the level President Obama had requested–many will probably be relieved that the program has now survived, which hasn’t always seemed a certainty. Moreover, the deal improved on earlier bills that have circulated, suggesting that the cause of the government fomenting disruptive innovation using “outside-the-box” investments in venturesome technology ideas may be gaining traction. That’s good news.
So is another happy surprise in the deal: the authorization of two new DOE Energy Innovation Hubs, one specializing in rare earths and energy-critical materials and one for energy storage technologies. To be sure, the Obama administration had originally asked for eight of these hubs, and settled for three before this year requesting funds for three more in 2012. However, congressional appropriators weren’t convinced that there was a need for a hub focused on smart grid technologies, as reported Darius Dixon in Politico, and so the nation now has two more of them, for a total of five of these special purpose-driven, multidisciplinary centers for accelerated collaboration between corporations, universities, and government labs.
Yet we’ll take it. Having long argued that the nation has been making do with an obsolete energy research paradigm excessively oriented toward individual academic investigators, on the one hand, and the siloed and bureaucratic efforts of the DOE’s energy laboratories, on the other, it is gratifying to watch the slow but continuing rollout of a true network of well-funded, multi-sector regional innovation centers. Congress is doing the right thing by creating–hub by hub–a set of sizable new institutes charged with “winning the future” in energy technology.