While the world watches the US shoot itself in the foot yet again as President Donald Trump labeled Huawei a national-security threat, a beacon of sanity shone through the darkness last week as 400 US state leaders, businesspeople, non-profits and delegates representing four Chinese provinces, converged on Lexington, Kentucky, on May 22 t-24 for the fifth annual US-China Governors Collaboration Summit. This summit, which rotates between China and the US every year, was especially important as it cut through the narrative that the United States is one homogeneous beast with one singular outlook aimed at world dominance. The situation, as many have come to notice, is that reality is far more nuanced.
The schism between the “two Americas” has reached feverish heights as Trump went so far as to call out the military-industrial complex on May 21, which has an enormous degree of independence from the Executive Branch and is committed to forever wars. It has been noted by astute observers that such wars are not necessarily matters of “local regime change” but have been building up to a nuclear-war threat targeting both Russia and China.
The Governors Summit was thus a breath of fresh air. The conference is sponsored jointly by the National Governors Association, the China Chamber of Commerce and Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The forum’s website described itself as “for governors, leaders and investors from the United Stats and China to discuss economic development opportunities and to forge and reinforce mutually beneficial relations.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang described the event in the following terms: “The active participation of local governments of both countries have demonstrated sincere will for strengthening sub-national exchange and cooperation. I believe this forum will inject new impetus into the efforts to deepen friendship and cooperation between the two countries.”
Call for win-win cooperation
Trump ally and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, whose state hosted the event, opened the conference saying that the summit “offers a tremendous opportunity for constructive dialogue that will pave the way for a brighter economic future in both our nations.” Earlier, Bevin expressed the importance of the summit at this dark moment of turmoil in China-US relations: “We are in a pivotal juncture in US-China relations and this gathering will provide a platform for progress, cultural understanding and development of mutually beneficial trade relationships.”
Another governor who spoke at the event was Bill Lee of Tennessee, who said that “China is the third-highest export market for the goods we have in Tennessee. So the relationship between China and Tennessee is very important.” Lee’s remarks were followed by Bevin noting that 40% of the world’s economic product is produced in the US and China. Echoing a spirit of win-win cooperation, Bevin said in his closing remarks that “when one side wins, the other side wins. When China is strong, it is good for America. When America is strong, it is good for China.”
Describing the need to tackle infectious diseases, global poverty and nuclear war, Cyrus Habib, lieutenant-governor of the US state of Washington, said, “Those problems cannot be solved without China, and those problems cannot be solved without the United States… We must strengthen our friendship, not only for our economic good but truly for the sake of our entire planet… I want to say now, not as a Washingtonian, but as an American, how important the US-China relationship is and will continue to be for the next 40 years. It’s not just about making money, it’s not just about creating jobs, although all of those things are important. It’s about friendship through which we can solve the world’s greatest problems.”
Punctuating this spirit of goodwill and cooperation for a higher good, China’s top diplomat to the US, Ambassador Cui Tiankai, said, “cooperation is the only right option for our two countries. Both the Chinese and the American people are pursuing a better life. This is our common goal.”
By the end of the event, multiple memoranda of understanding were signed between American and Chinese counterparts, including an MoU between Kentucky and Chongqing, an MoU for the Yushen Industrial Park Comprehensive Gas Island Project, a China-US joint venture for an international magnesium exporting endeavor that will handle 24,000 tons of exports a year, cooperation agreements between the University of Louisville and Jiangxi Normal University, and the International Ingredient Corporation Cooperative Project.
While America’s relationship with China may appear beleaguered and at historic lows, such conferences renew one’s hope that a bright future awaits us.
This article was originally published on Fort-Russ.