Huang Renwei:Speech at the China-U.S. Seminar
06 Apr., 2021  |  Source:BRGG  |  Hits:1695

Thank you!

Good morning, new and old friends. Since early 1990s,I have known Professor Ezra Vogel almost 30 years. I am very sorry to hear of his pass. Long-time exchange between us gave me the impression of his deep insights of China-US bilateral relations. As a real scholar who studied China, Chinese culture and Chinese society so deeply, his understanding of China might be better than many Chinese.

I remember three unforgettable experiences of in-depth exchanges with Professor Ezra Vogel.

First one was in 1998. He led a group of American experts that he called the “Dream Team” to study China-US relations. Who is included in the “Dream Team”? It includes Michael Oksenberg, Michael Lampton, Douglas Paul and many other very distinguished China Studies scholars. The group's leader was Ezra Vogel. They came to Shanghai and talked with my former leader Wang Daohan, exchanging views on China-US relations for two days to prepare for the president Jiang Zemin's visit to the US. I remember that time, Professor Vogel told Wang that we should establish a solid and sustainable China-US relations and a common strategic partnership for the 21st century. At that time, many scholars in the US and China were arguing fiercely that whether China and the US were friends or enemies. Vogel believed that China and the US should live together and work together. His idea was accepted by all the members of the expert group. So when they returned to the US, they wrote a book called Living with China. This book is very important. It is the base of the policy of engagement between China and the US. I admire this group and the group leader, Ezra Vogel. His policy designing, I think, has been proved by time and the bilateral relationship in the last 30 years. Some people during the Trump administration broke this policy, which has been proved to be totally wrong. We should restore this “Dream Team” and inherit their ideas. I think Vogel’s contribution is so huge and still we should read the book again.

The second is what he said in his famous book, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. He talked with me several times when I went to Harvard and he visited Shanghai. He put my name on the preface and thanked me. And I was very honored. He signed his name on the book he gave me,called me "respectful old friend Huang Renwei", and asked my opinion about the book. These were not so important. What was the most important thing is that he put Deng Xiaoping’s historical position in a very high stack in this book. He observed Deng Xiaoping by all different perspectives, so the book is very objective, which can be tested through time and practice. No matter who agrees or disagrees with Deng Xiaoping should read this book. Through this book, we can see that Deng Xiaoping changed China and the world.

And the third is that we jointly engaged in Chinese studies. I served as Secretary-General of the World Forum on Chinese Studies for 15 years. He participated in three sessions of our forum in total, and we also awarded him the Award for Chinese Studies. By Accepting this reward, he made a speech on China Studies Forum, telling us how he turned from Japanese studies to China studies,  compared and summarized the two studies. He not only stayed in classical studies, but turned to practical and realistic policy studies. He is a real scholar and expert on Japanese and Chinese studies. I think there are very few scholars like him who can both understand Chinese and Japanese culture so deeply. I know the other one is Scalapino. Scalapino used his own framework on jap political and jap graphic analysis, but not like Ezra, from the culture and the deep traditional analysis. It can be said that based on Vogel’s Chinese studies and Japanese studies, he had a deeper and more profound understanding of the two countries.

Now, I should summarize my ideas. What can we learn from Ezra? There are 3 main points.

1. Understanding the culture is the base of understanding of a country. Ezra’s deep understanding of Chinese and Japanese culture was his solid base of China studies and Japanese studies.

2. The deep understanding of China's development direction. Ezra had the best understanding of China’s opening and reform. His works always followed the development direction of China——where China is  and where it will go.

3. He was a very excellent field survey expert. He had done solid field survey in China and spent 10 years in Guangdong to understand the first stage of China’s opening and reform. I think now American scholars rarely do the actual investigation as Profeesor Ezra did in China in the 1990s. That's why he didn't move from this end to another. He always kept on the solid and correct direction. In the past two years, when the Trump administration and Pompeo issued many negative voices, Ezra stood out and claimed that China was not an enemy of the US. He organized hundreds of scholars to publish an open letter on Washington Post to spread this view to the United States, the public audience and the world.

This is why I really admire him. He's my teacher, the best America scholar on China’s studies.