Posts Tagged ‘Gao Zhikai’
Gao Zhikai, or Victor Gao, was Deng Xiaoping’s old interpreter and sat in on some of China’s earliest encounters with the outside world, including the 1986 meeting between Deng and John Phelan, the then chairman of the NY stock exchange, during which Deng decided that China must have its own stock exchange.
Today, he is an executive director of the Beijing Private Equity Association and a director of the China National Association of International Studies, and has held positions with Morgan Stanley, PCCW and CNOOC.
But it was his early knowledge of Beijing’s interactions with the outside world that were most relevant for a piece about how Britain should handle its relationship with China.
In his view, China’s foreign policy history during the post-Mao period can be split into three periods:
1. 1978 to 1989: Deng Xiaoping’s opened up China to the outside world after decades of isolation. During this period, China’s tacit support for US policy helped bring about the end of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism in Europe. Mr Gao said China and the US were trading military and political information, and that the US was in the process of selling China helicopters and fighter-jet guidance technology.
2. 1989 to 2001: After the events in Tiananmen Square, the US turned its back on China. A UN resolution was passed against China and sanctions were imposed. No diplomatic meetings took place from 1989 to 1993, when Bill Clinton finally met Jiang Zemin on the fringes of the Apec conference in Seattle. “This was a sensitive and difficult time for China,” said Mr Gao, pointing out that with the Cold War over, China emerged as the next natural ideological enemy for the US, even though its brand of “communism” was a world away from Soviet marxism.
3. Post 2001: After the September 11 attacks, the US reconciled to China, aware that Beijing was a valuable ally in the war against terror, since (a) China has a Western border with Afghanistan and (b) China is not ideological at all, unlike, say Islamic fundamentalists. In addition, China’s admission to the WTO had helped push the country forward economically and given it an incentive to play a bigger role on the world stage.
Last year, said Mr Gao, was a major year of transition. A year in which China fully turned from introverted to outward-looking. The old policy of remaining a humble and non-speaking partner is finally dead and China expressed its position strongly at every international summit, from the G20 to Copenhagen.
Nevertheless, it is clear that there have to be some structural changes in the CCP bureaucracy before foreign policy is given the role it deserves. For their part, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have travelled abroad to cement business ties, rather than to play the grand game of international diplomacy.
Mr Gao pointed out that the Foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, is not even in the enlarged politburo. “There are two to three dozen officials higher up that him, compared to the US, where the Secretary of State is number two or three”, he said.