Leaders hash out ways to boost US-China relations amidst mutual distrust

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Global leaders hail the partnership between the United States and China as the most important in the world. But it's not the strongest. How can it be stronger? That was the big question at the "Committee of 100" conference on Friday in Pasadena.

If you're wondering, "This affects me how?" check the "Made in China" sticker on whatever it is that you just bought, says MIT professor Yasheng Huang.

"You invest in the stock market in companies that have a lot of businesses in China," says Huang. "Same thing in China. Chinese consumers, they buy products that were made by the machinery imported from the United States."

Huang teaches international economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He joined academics, corporate heads and politicians at an annual conference organized by a non-partisan group of Chinese American leaders called the "Committee of 100."

The committee sponsored a survey of several thousand Chinese and American participants, many of whom said they don't trust the other side. Perhaps the distrust stems from the big "O": outsourcing, or the flow of jobs out of the US and into China.

Huang says many Americans think "if you don't outsource these jobs to China, they will be kept in the United
States. And that's just factually incorrect."

Those jobs will end up in another country, he says. They won't stay here.

"So I think it would be suicidal to stop the globalization," he sums up. "But on the other hand, it is also not the right policy response not to invest in human capital and physical capital."

"You have to ask yourself: 'What's real?'" says Nicholas Platt. "And you have to ask yourself: 'What drives policy?'"

The Ambassador answers his own question. He says the driving force is billions of dollars in trade. The American diplomat's been involved in U.S.-China relations ever since he traveled to China with President Richard Nixon 40 years ago.

Platt says mistrust between Americans and Chinese is tempered by a simple fact: thousands of people travel between the two counties every day.

"And doing what?, " Platt says. "Investing. They're organizing to go to school... all kinds of sort of basic things which the governments never even see."

The leaders at the "Committee of 100" conference are imploring lawmakers, policymakers and even media moguls to help strengthen U.S.-China relations. They're pushing for more public diplomacy, more education — and more cooperation between the leaders of both countries.

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