(2016-04-24 08:04:29)

Throughout his lecture at RUC’s School of Economics on the afternoon of April 18, the US Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, made frequent mention of the university’s motto “seeking truth from facts,” reminding his audience that the phrase traces back far beyond its well-known usage by Chinese leaders Mao and Deng all the way to the first century Book of Han. “Seeking truth from facts,” he repeatedly told the students during the lecture and Q&A session following, “is what your university education is about. That’s your job.” While introducing himself as a tough pragmatist who loves his job as Ambassador to China even more than he enjoyed working as US senator for the state of Montana, Ambassador Baucus also showed himself as a friend of China?concerned to enter?authentic dialogue.

The Ambassador came to Renmin University with a small delegation from the American Embassy and was welcomed by RUC Vice President YI Zhihong, who ?mentioned Mr. Baucus’s important role in promoting China’s 2001 entrance into the WTO during his tenure on the US Senate Committee on Finance. “This,” Professor YI stated, “has been imperative for China’s growth into the major economic force it is today.” She went on to offer a brief overview of Renmin University’s history and academic concentrations, which the Ambassador expressed a keen interest in, adding that if he were not engaged in public service, he himself would very much like to be a professor, as he enjoys talking to students.x-404A1988

Vice President YI highlighted the strengths of the university, all subjects in the social sciences, including law, economics, public administration, business, and international relations, and elaborated on RUC’s important role in Chinese higher education as one of the main academic institutions offering policy advice to the Chinese government.

After a short exchange, Ambassador Baucus visited the School of Economics, where he spoke to about a hundred students; most of those in attendance were business, economics or international relations majors, but some came from other fields, including Marxist studies. The Ambassador opened his remarks by quoting the university motto and encouraging students to follow it in all their academic and life endeavors: “Seeking truth from facts requires hard work, diligence… and, most of all, thinking for yourself. You need to ask a lot of tough?questions. And no matter what your specific field of study is or which sector you end up working in, you will serve your country by seeking the truth from facts.”

The Ambassador went on to share from his own truth-seeking experience as a student: “I was in the Belgian Congo as a young student globetrotting for a semester when it hit me that the world was getting smaller, resources were becoming fewer, and that countries in the future would have to work together to solve the problems of their day. We couldn’t manage fairer resource allocation and meet a host of other challenges without cooperation. That was when my interest in public service was born; I decided I wanted to help represent my people, represent my state. Eventually, this led to my career in public service and many years of tenure on the Senate Finance Committee.”


“The two most important countries trying to figure out how to work things out together” is how Ambassador Baucus describes the Sino-American relationship today. “And we need to figure out what the facts actually are regarding national and international security, climate change, the economy.” The Ambassador at this point talked about his service as US Senator when working hard to pass a bill that would grant permanent normalized trade relations with China: “At that time everybody thought I was na?ve: they thought I was ‘soft on China.’ When he was in office, Bill Clinton asked me: ‘What do we do about China?’ I said: ‘We have to respect China! Years from now, we’re gonna be here, and so is China. Our cooperation has to be built on mutual respect.’

I was convinced that we needed to permanently normalize trade relations with the largest trading nation in the world. The United States is committed to working with China because the more the playing field is leveled, the more we move towards a free and open market; and the more benefits there will be all around.”

Ambassador Baucus expressed some concerns regarding China’s economic policies: issues include, he said, China’s weak protection of intellectual property rights and limited access to information.

Before opening the floor for questions, Ambassador Baucus told his listeners that “whether Chinese or American, people around the world basically have the same hopes and aspirations: prosperity, safety, a good education for their children, good healthcare. We need to keep this in mind as our two nations do their best to ‘work things out’ together.” “Finally,” he stated, “I love this job, I love the Chinese people, and I think the Sino-US relation is the most important bilateral relation in the world today.”

During the Q&A session that followed, one?student wanted to know the Ambassador’s opinion on China’s potential entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Ambassador Baucus affirmed that he welcomed China’s entry, that he thinks it good for China and the USA, although Chinese leaders might also want to take a different route. In this case, China may decide to enter its own agreements with India and other Asian nations, further pursuing the Silk Road and agreements not involving the United States. This, he thinks would not be the most desirable outcome. While there are issues that need addressing, “currency manipulation, overcapacity, and protectionism,” he very much hopes that China will become a TPP member.

Ten more students asked questions in what turned out to be a lively and good-humored interchange. One listener rushed forward to present Ambassador Baucus with a book, which he urged him to read.

The Ambassador closed his remarks by stating: “We must keep in mind that we’re all human beings; it’s our job to respect the human dignity of every single person.”

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