This week I chatted with Zheng Huang, President of the Committee of 100. Founded by I.M. Peiand Dr. Henry Kissinger in the 80s, Committee of 100 is a US based non-profit leadership organization of about 100 + prominent Chinese Americans in a plethora of industries with a mission to help Chinese Americans thrive in the U.S. and to develop stronger relationships with China.
Besides the Committee of 100, Z has a long history of serving to strengthen US-China relations. He helped Intel penetrate the Chinese market as the managing director, he advised on Chinese relations as a White House fellow, and right before C100, he was the chairman of Business Connect China.
Z is absolutely brilliant and during our chat we cover a lot.
We discuss a brief history of Chinese American experience in the US, we talk about the current state of US-China relations, how the US and China can avoid going to war, and how these two countries differ in their approach toward tech and entrepreneurship.
It was a fascinating conversation and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
MPD: Welcome Z. Thanks for being here today.
Z: Thanks mark. Real pleasure.
MPD: So why don't we just start off by giving folks a little bit of context about what you do. Could you give just an overview of the committee of one.
Z: Sure. Sure. So the committee of a hundred was started about 32 years ago at the urgent that doc can Harry Kissinger. At the time he approached a few prominent Chinese Americans.
It was imp yo mind a few others to start the community of a hundred as a nonprofit organization of Chinese Americans. Who are dedicated to two key two, two key missions. The first is Chinese-American inclusion in all aspects of American life. There's about 5 million of us. And then the second to help foster a more productive U S China relationship.
So the organization is a member based organization. We have about 130 members that folks may know such as our chair, Gary Locke. We used to be ambassador to China and secretary of commerce. That's why as Jerry Yang, who started a Yahoo or Eric zoom or Steven Chad was started YouTube amongst others.
MPD: Okay. Why did Henry Kissinger care about that? I'm sure he cared about a lot of things, but why was this an initiative he pushed for? It seems a little off the narrative that you hear about Henry Kissinger.
Z: Yeah. W we have to remember 32 years ago was right after the tenement square incident.
So the U S China relations was Adam. Probably very similar to what's happening today. And if everyone recalls, Harry Kissinger was very responsible for the renormalization of the relations between the two countries back in the 1970s. And so he felt that Chinese Americans being Americans, but also having both a cultural and.
And a family heritage in China could be a helpful,
MPD: Very smart. Okay. Very interesting. And so the, maybe we spend a minute on some of these missions. So you talked about inclusion, Chinese Americans and American society. That's obviously a hot topic with the Asian hate and everything else going on right now.
How has that evolved over time? What's holding that back. How do you, what do you guys, how do you think about that? An open question for me?
Z: So the committee actually commissioned a landmark studies by the economist group on the doing contribution of Chinese Americans over the a hundred, the past 175.
So the fact is we, as an ethic community has been this country for almost two centuries. But despite that we are still faced with the perennial foreigner stereotype, right? So that no matter how many generations we have been in this country, several of our members have been here four or five generations.
We're still seen as the perpetual foreigner, a stranger, Homeland. Now the Chinese also ha. Uh, the unfortunate distinction of being the only ethnic community that has been singled out for exclusion in this country. So in 18 86, 82 America passed the Chinese exclusionary act, which forbid the Chinese to enter this country to be naturalized us citizen, to actually hold land, or to actually go into many of the professions we take for granted.
So that act does not repeal. Till 62 years later when the United States needed China to join in the fight against the axis. So the Chinese actually had to do about 62 years where they not only conduct come to this country, but those who K had to endure second or third class citizens and treat
MPD: that's a very untold story.
I didn't even know about this particular act. What was the thinking or rationale of the time outside of kind of overt racism?
Z: Yeah, it's a good question. So back then many Chinese came because America needed labor, especially to connect the west coast and the east coast. So the transatlantic railroad, many portions of that were built by the Chinese.
In fact, the Chinese labor is comprised about 90% of all the labor. And many of them later settled in America after they contributed their labor. For example, Napa valley, which many of us enjoy a historians would say. It will be set back by at least a few years, if not for the work of the Chinese laborers who helped plan about 3 million buys in the early years.
So the Chinese actually did tremendous amount of work, not only on the railroads, but also in agriculture and pharma. And there, we began to see the emergence of these stereotypes and the discrimination. So some of the white workers, thought, well, the Chinese might be coming in to steal our jobs.
So therefore stereotypes of a while the Chinese might be unclean, they might be carriers of diseases and viruses. What we experienced last year through some of the rhetoric expire by our politicians is actually not new. This happened within a hundred years ago. And so the Chinese were restricted to ghettos or as we today know, as trying to count, and many restrictions were placed upon then,
MPD: The story isn't told in basic, American history and literature.
I think we, we all know of kind of the patterns of racism against immigrant populations and ethnic minorities, but the concept of actually preventing preventing, home ownership after the world war. I know there was a Jim Crow south, there was still a lot of bad stuff going on which there is today.
But this seems very extreme to hear for how little attention it's gotten.
Z: So yeah. Yeah, no, this is very interesting. So you've product mark. One of the things the committee is trying to do now is to try to get Chinese American, Asian curric Asian-American history to be pop as part of American history, because I think it is important for all of us to learn how.
Many of our ethnic communities have come. And despite the challenges and discrimination have come to contribute and make this a better place for all of us, that that history needs to be told so that, because there's so many lessons we can learn from there, I'll give you an another example.
After the Chinese exclusionary act, the Chinese were purposefully forbid from not only having any production. More importantly, then we, they were forbid to become entrepreneurs. Now, some people say, why is there so many Chinese entrepreneurs in the Silicon valley? There's been a long tradition of entrepreneurship in America for Chinese Americans, because for the longest time they could not do any profession.
They cannot be doctors. They can not be lawyers. They could be engineers, all of these professions that we assume, to see a lot of Asian faces, they cannot do. So what do they do? They became entrepreneurs. They were owners of restaurants. They were owners of laundry bats. But even then. Local governments like San Francisco pass laws, where they required licenses specifically targeting the Chinese.
So they say, okay, a particular professions such as laundry bats require licenses, but then they wouldn't give out any license to the Chinese. So what the Chinese did was actually the banded together and they filed about five to 6,000 loss. Several of them went to the Supreme court. I'll give you a couple of actually has monumental effects for this entire country.
One is, uh, one came Ark versus the United States which basically stipulated that if you are a boy in the United States, you could be a naturalize. You could be an automatic citizen because what happened was the Chinese exclusionary act basically said, even if you're born here, if you're Chinese, 'cause one thing arc.
Now, anybody who comes boy in the United States is automatically you would assist us. So that was very important. There was another lawsuit that basically said, and referencing what I just told you about the laundry mat in San Francisco. The Supreme court basically decided that if a law on the surface seems to be constitutional, but in practice is used to discriminate one group or another.
It is unconstitutional. So in the 1950s in the board versus in brown vs board of education, they specifically referenced this case to say, you know what, separate but equal may sound equally. In theory, but in practice, it's discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. So in some ways to Chinese have actually contributed quite significantly to the civil rights movement in the United States because of that period of 62 years of it narrate activities in this.
MPD: It's such an odd thing. I wish people, I wish the history was taught. It feels like the patterns are so parallel. Malcolm Gladwell's book, outliers talks about how Jews weren't allowed to get certain jobs. And as a result, they started their own firms and it became a pathway for success. And I think that is an entrepreneurial story in America, right?
Limited opportunities. It creates a pressure cooker and forces people to achieve who are the members of the organization? You said there was 136. Is this something that the broader community either Asian-Americans or allies can join and support through membership dues or what's the is it open
Z: to the organization is open to all American citizens of Chinese descent.
In terms of membership, obviously anyone can come in and support the organization, but membership is extended to American citizens of Chinese cetera. It is, uh, an invocation type membership where the committee looks for individuals who have made significant achievement, not just nation nationally, but hopefully internationally who also harbored the same interests of giving them.
For us giving back is very important. So not only have you had to achieve certain success in your career, but to have the interest of giving back to the community, to making sure that the Chinese American community given, especially our history, as I've briefly, dominated with humor, illuminated to you.
That community could become an inclusive part of America as wise to, to help promote a more productive us China relationship. So for individuals who agree with those missions, then the invitation sent to them.
MPD: It's a lofty mission. The two promises that you described. And sometimes when I see organizations where the mission is too lofty, the action doesn't always follow, it becomes impractical or doesn't get operationalized properly. What do you guys actually do? How do you go from, a group of people with a big idea to getting something done? What do you guys do it? Yeah,
Z: that was a very good question. Now I will say that in some ways the mission is lofty, but very practical.
I'll give you an example. What is the role of Chinese Americans in us? China relations. In fact, the last 40 years, Chinese Americans have played a critical. And in bridging in terms of divide between us and China. So when China opened. Many times multinationals from America. What did they do? They said there are Chinese American engineers, they're Chinese American managers, folks that they knew they can trust because they worked at the headquarters, but also knew China and understood the local environment to help set up shops to open businesses.
I'll give you an example. One of our members, Shirley Young, who just passed away. She was, uh, the highest ranking Chinese American or Asian American women at general motors help open up general motors in China. And that's, general motors has consistently been the number one profit center for the entire company throughout the last several days.
And in fact, Buick is still considered one of the hottest selling brands in China today. And she was responsible for helping to open that. So Chinese Americans have played an incredibly important role in terms of facilitating the interaction, the communications and the investments between the two countries.
And so we have seen that now today, the role is changing. Because the relationship is changing a little bit. And what we believe is the role of Chinese Americans should be to help educate and to provide different perspectives. So that adds to relationship more that those different perspectives could all be incorporated.
So that's one part the, the first part about Chinese American inclusion in America, I think that's just an ongoing story. As the African-American Latino, Jewish, American, native American communities all have their organizations, whether it be an NAACP or ADL or LA rasa, et cetera, that continuously fight for inclusion.
And increasingly not just for their own community, but fall for all America. And so C 100 has been one of the leaders in our community that has taken that role. And I think that is probably an ongoing role.
MPD: Could you break this down to a few initiatives? Could you just give me like, Hey we're targeting.
Z: Yeah. So let me tell you about how we realize those in a few initiatives. So for example, the first doing COVID we individually and separately gave up value $11 billion in PPEs to about 120 hospitals, obviously some to hospitals where they have a preponderance of Asian Americans, but predominantly to actually African-American and Latino can.
Because we believe that we really together in this. So that's one. And as you remember, during the early days almost all PPS came from China and because of some of the bridges and relationships that we have, we were able to get high quality FDA approved products at the, at the shortest time to those hops hospitals in America who needed.
Free of charge delivered to their doors, helping to save lives. So that's one example. The second is, as I told you, we, uh, conducted landmark studies on the contribution of Chinese Americans, for example, I in 95. Most people know about an animal five mask, it was invented by a Chinese American.
So basically what we wanted to highlight was not just how discrimination impact our community, but about the enduring contribution across all of these different sectors that Chinese Americans have been able to make. And we have been able now to uh, bring that data to more than 120 groups across the United States.
And we are working now with various schools to TriNet. Like we just discussed so that teachers and students have an opportunity to learn a little bit more. As part of that, we were able to work with 11 organizations, including NAACP, ADL, AJC, national, urban league to publish a joint declaration on anti-Asian hate and violence.
And then we worked with that group in Congress to help with the past. Of the COVID hate crime act and the no hates act. As you all know, those were two of the few bipartisan acts that were passed as a consequence of the rise in anti-Asian hate and violence. So those are a few of the things I could probably go on for another five, 10 minutes.
MPD: Yeah, I'm sure you could. I'm sure you're good. You're living this, but Z you've got an incredible background. And if you, if someone goes through your LinkedIn or your CV It's a laundry list of great brand names and logos. Why'd you choose to do this? Why is this what you're spending? Yeah, that's
Z: a good question, mark.
First of all, anything I've done pales in comparison to some of the work that our members have done. And I think both the membership and myself realize that. And this is best put by one of our members and who is a very well-known academic. And he said, during the pandemic, he's walking on the street and somebody shouts at him, to go back to his country.
And he was born in America, educated in America, has dedicated his life to to the service of this country. And the fact is we all realize that even though we can take care of ourselves individually, perhaps there's a bigger. To give back to this community. And I think in giving back to our community, we not only make our communities safer and stronger, but I think we make our country safer and stronger.
And I think today is one of those pivotal times. As the census just came out Asian Americans, it's actually the fastest rising minority population in America. In fact, in about 20 years, we might be the largest minority group in America, but in a sense, America is facing a pivotal moment, right?
Of can we become that inclusive diversified community and nation that we've always talked about entering. Or we'll those age, old differences and stereotypes continue to divide.
MPD: I want to take a different tangent here. Was that you've got a unique perspective from the role you're sitting in and with your background as well.
I know you were at Intel for quite a long time. You've been working in tech. You've got a very strong background in that, but addition to obviously the Chinese perspective, are there ways in which the C 100, particularly with you at the helm is helping the tech community to navigate, getting into China or companies coming from China, the U S do you bridge it on the, on kind of the commercial side at all?
Or is it only political and social focus?
Z: Yeah. When it comes to us in China, our real focus is on people to people, communications, because we think that when, the world is going well, people like to here. Yeah, but when the relationship is not going well people, communication is even more important.
And so in that sense, it's not uniquely focused on tech, but it's really focused on, key leaders, key opinion makers across all industries and sectors so that they really have a chance to understand the different perspectives. And then one of the key seems that always dictate our communications is how do you find common ground?
Despite the differences. And if we could do that just in our small way to help folks find common ground, despite the differences, we believe that's a recipe for collaboration and, impossible win-win situation. So it's very social,
MPD: political oriented. I'm getting that loud and clear which I love by the way.
If you want to put a business, spin on it for a second, there's a lot of Chinese family offices navigating the tech community. And one of their pitches is that, Hey, we'll put money into the company, but we're going to help bring this technology to China, either under a new entity or, help you build a team there and commercialize it.
That's one of the strategies we're seeing pop up more and more. We see it with a bunch of countries, but I think China is becoming increasingly the dominant one. That's doing this just by the happenstance of my experience because of the large populations in a large market that. Huge cultural and language gaps, but also a lot of infrastructure, for manufacturing and otherwise that I think could be very appealing to some of the U S companies. When you take all this into perspective. When I see these companies, these family offices out there for the entrepreneurs listening, is this a viable program? Have you seen this work with anybody? Have you seen those people successfully bridge companies from America to China?
And if so, pitfalls or thoughts?
Z: Oh yeah. In fact, I think it's one of the smartest ways that an entrepreneur in the us could leverage investments from China. We know that a few years back before Syphius became, more stringent. Chinese funds were very active in Silicon valley.
In fact, many of the Chinese funds set up subsidiaries in Silicon valley to not just invest in some of the hottest deals. But I think also to do what you said. To help them expand to another significant market each. There's a great friends. I, Sequoia, China and Mexico, China in fact is an independent company or independent firm that uses to support a local.
And they, I think have done a great job in terms of building some really amazing national champions that are going global, like DDP and. But vice versa. I think they also benefit it a lot in terms of some of the really interesting ideas that you've learned from Silicon valley. Now, the Sequoia Silicon valley office.
I know, cause I've talked to them have also benefited quite a. With those connections in China cause any of their portfolio companies that want to expand in China, obviously they have a very trusted partner to help them. China is going to have a completely different tech ecosystem by some of it is political by.
But increasingly these will be two different texts, systems, ecosystems. And if you're a company, a smart one that has a ambitions globally, you definitely want to be in on the number one, number two market in the world. In that sense, having a trusted partner is really important. I've seen it work many times, by the way,
MPD: how were the tech community.
And why do you need a local partner? Why can't you just raise a bunch of money from us companies, send some people out there, hire locally and figure it out.
Z: Oh, I, in my opinion, the smart people do all of the above. Ultimately a local partner is not your own people. You still need your trusted.
But getting trusted people is not easy. That's why I hug it back to what I said about Chinese Americans. Having played a very pivotal role in the development of us. China relations is because a lot of Chinese Americans are trusted. So for example, let's say an entrepreneur raises a bunch of money and he thinks you know, college, I have this Chinese American friends.
And his, his friends, father, does business in China. If his father, my, either reside, China or gold goes to China significantly. And he's well, this friend not only is pretty smart. And he asked that cultural connection. Can I hire him to help me open up? And what happens is stuff.
Fred could then leverage the resources that's provided. For example, if there's another Chinese VC, that's putting money, obviously the friend can then leverage that resource, right? This is how any successful entrepreneur does the work. They don't count on one element. They try to put as many elements and stack them up for success.
And in my opinion, the ones that stack up the most elements succeed, that
MPD: makes sense. Okay. But what are the things that are. I obviously it's a different culture and a different language. You said before the tech community is a different construct. There's a polit it's political by nature. How does it function differently?
Because I think for a lot of people in the U S tech economy, you can't imagine it being done in any different, in a different way, because it seems like it's just, this is the only way to do it. It's a machine that it's a little bit of a pinball machine where all the pieces were bouncing together and they collide in the right way.
It's kind organized. Is there some other mechanism that people should be aware of it they show up in China?
Z: Yeah. First of all, I think the Chinese ecosystem is actually a lot more competitive and faster pace than America. People in general work really hard in this super. And so in that sense, I would say, even for the folks in Silicon valley, they oftentimes almost, uh, uniformly, the I've spoken to are amazed by how hard folks work in China.
So that is one, the second is China is a market, but it's also a market of many. So there's the large cities are very like America, to Shanghai, to Beijing suspensions, but then they're also the tier two tier three tier four cities that are significantly different in terms of the usage patterns, et cetera, et cetera.
So I'll give you an example. Everyone has probably heard of Alibaba, right? Ali Baba is the Amazon of China and they're very, well-respected. But there's also a company called Pinkola doll, right? Which is, which came out of nowhere. But in the last few years has become bigger than Alibaba. Why?
Because they cater primarily to the
Z: third tier markets where they offer much cheaper, where at a reasonably good. I so in China, there is also a market of several markets. So that might be the second distinction. The third distinction is we do have to understand the government plays a more active role in the tech ecosystem.
Now I do believe that increasingly the U S government will likely play more and more of an active role because some of the things we've seen in the last few years, but in China, the government does play a very active. So it is almost impossible not to run into the government at some point, if you're at some scale.
So those are probably three of the things. People should be aware that the extremely competitive nature, a market of several markets and potential government regulations
MPD: on the competitive side. Things. Why is it more competitive? Is it a cultural difference? We, we, we talk a lot about work-life balance in the states.
Is that not part of the narrative out there yet? Is this, um, part of evolving what's happening? Why is it more intense?
Z: I think in some quarters, there's beginning to talk about work-life balance, but I think by and large people believe that you got to work hard, so you can actually make a space or make a name for it.
And if you don't someone else will, we have to remember 40 years ago. I remember this, I was born in China, came here when I was 10, 40 years ago we had one convenience store in a mile, a one mile radius and a convenience store sold maybe about 10 20 items. And in fact, when you go buy stuff, you use a ration card.
So every month, your ration too, you know how many pounds would be, you can buy how many eggs you can buy, et cetera, et cetera. So many people still remember that time of desperate. And so I think there's still that hunger, that thirst of trying to get as much as possible to make as much as possible for yourself, for your family, for your community.
But I think the hungers shoulder,
MPD: it's very interesting. I want to talk about the government component as well. You've got there's, there's this, uh, dualism, right? There's this perspective that I feel like the. It's a bias in the media in American media. Whenever I read something about the U S government getting more involved at anything business, the undertone is bad.
Whenever I hear about Chinese government getting more involved in business or staying as a volunteer at the undertone is bad. We're we're, we're told to think that it's all negative. Are there advantages? Where their government involvement has helped the industry helps society and the way it regulates or even manages the tech community.
Z: Yeah, it's a really good question. So in my opinion, a different political systems are really people in different cultures at different times, different historical moments, try to resolve similar issues, similar human child. And when it comes to tech, I actually think there's probably three big questions that every government has to try to answer and not just the government, but the people as well.
But in this sense, usually the government is the only power that's strong enough to take decisive action. The first is who controls data. We know that in the last century, oil was gold, right? And wars were fought over oil. The control of this precious commodity. In this century, data is. But who controls it?
Is it big companies like a Facebook or Google or what control does government have over it? That's one. The second is how big an influence do we give these big tech giants? In this country, we could see Facebook or Twitter could potentially influence the course of an election, the course of a vaccination camp.
The course of many things could be influenced on these social networks, but who regulates and who controls these tech firms and how they regulate themselves. Because by and large, the idea has been self-regulation. But increasingly we've seen that self regulation may not be enough. So who regulates and how do you regulate that's the second.
And then the third is really many of these tech companies have come up only in the last two, three decades. How much power do we give the owners of these tech companies, whether you'd be a Jack ma or Elon Musk or mark Zuckerberg. These individuals could have tremendous power over the course of a democracy over the course of, the economy over the course of even potential social unrest.
So who regulates them? I think these three questions. Every single political system, every single government, every single pre people have to ask. And I think the Chinese government have made their decision. And we're beginning to see the ramifications of some of those policy decisions, in terms of who owns the data how do you regulate the tech companies and what are the roles of the tech company owners for the people who
MPD: are getting the soundbites from the. What is the Chinese policy there? We hear that they're putting out this law or that, but there's some overarching probably policy or mandate around how they're managing, what is the understated, the underlying concept that the Chinese government is deploying against the tech community?
Z: Yeah. So in my opinion is still evolving in my opinion, it's not crystal clear, but what is clear are a couple of. The Chinese government is trying to prevent any big tech company to become too big to fail. Now we learned that term in 2008, which basically meant banks that mess up the economy still has to be rescued because they were too big to fail.
In some ways tech companies have become too big to. And I think that the Chinese government is trying to ensure that no tech company becomes too big to fail. What's an example of that. For example, and financial, basically, became probably the largest depository of a repository of deposits of consumer deposits, but not being regulated asset base.
Not given the same type of, capital, uh, ratios, the same type of regulatory controls as the regular bank in fact have become too big to fail. So I think the Chinese government is trying to regulate that second is who controls the data. I think the Chinese government is trying to say that data in some small way belongs to the public.
Now in China, the government believes that it represents the. So it is trying to have direct access, if not control to some of the proprietary data that companies always thought it was their home. And you know that for decades now, companies have done this kind of trade off with consumers, right? I let you use my stuff for free.
You give me your data for free, but by and large companies have thought of it as their own proprietary data. So in China, I think the government's saying it's not just companies. This is data that in some ways is a public good and we want to regulate. And the last point is, the role of the tech companies.
I think the government is trying to say has to be the same as many other companies within China, which is to promote economic growth where the government thinks the direction should be focused in. Now, whether that's, again, Pudding right and wrong, good or bad on these directors. But I think at least these are some of the key directives or the purpose of the practice undertaken by the government.
One of the big
MPD: problems we have, which, uh, Richard fully aware of is we have misinformation campaigns flowing through these social media platforms. And as you said, they can change the outcome of the vaccination policy or even an election. What is China doing to regulate that? Because I think we're still here trying to figure out what to do.
And moving at a glacial pace. Is there a playbook that we can see in China for how to manage this?
Z: Yeah so this is such a good question, mark. And this gets to the fundamental question of in this world of where you can have fake attack, right? Where you can basically create a video. Now that looks real, but that's complete fake where you can basically you know, create a social bubble.
In which you can actually say almost anything and people would believe it because you have that social chamber of that, that goals, every every statement that's made. Who do you believe the government, do you believe traditionally trusted media outlets? Do you believe individual iStar closest to your network or you do you just believe people who you want?
That is I think the fundamental question, and I think what the government in China is trying to do is to say, ultimately, the government is the one source. You have to believe it because the government provides both censorship and regulation on every other source of information. Not of course, if you're skeptical and say I don't believe the government, then I guess you can't believe in many things.
Yeah. If you don't believe it, the government, you still have to answer the question of who do you believe in? And I think in the U S today, that is the main struggle, right? Because today, some people don't believe the CDC, some people don't believe the FDA sample people who don't believe traditional media call them fake news.
But in that case, who do you
MPD: believe? But what's the mechanism for managing it, right? So if I'm in China and the government has a policy at. And I want to say the exact opposite. And I go on the social media platforms and start telling everyone that it's not true. The government's lying. What are the mechanisms that, either remove my content or regulate me, or is that allowed because that's, what's happening here.
Z: That's a good question. I think in China, my understanding is most. Organizations having to do with media probably do quite a bit of self censorship. So they have, folks in in-house that kind of look over content to see if they might be against the law, because, obviously their content that we all agree would be problematic.
For example, pornographic content that promotes the right viral. Content that's all right. Lie. So it's so just because you have sensors we should not automatically assume that it's just politically sensitive content. I will say the majority of content that's removed is just stuff that we want it removed.
And I will say probably a minority of the content is content. We would say should it be out there, right? Is something that people actually need to hear it because you criticize, since the cover may end up balancing. That's probably the area where I think in China, the government has the ultimate say now but does contrary information still get out?
They do. It just, it's just probably more difficult compared to the U S
MPD: is, is who bears the liability of that? Because I think one of the challenges faced by the social media platforms in the states is that if they start to regulate some of the content, they have to regulate all. And that's a lot of posts and tweets to scan through.
So is it the responsibility of the platform? W where does where does the buck stop in China to make the system work? Or is it that throughout the entire system? There's more, there's more alignment on red round with the messaging is so it needs less management.
Z: Yeah. As a big debate happening in the U S is a repeal of one particular sector.
That, that, that the notes that social networks in particular don't need a police, their content. Cause they're just a gathering place. Whereas increasingly people think that it's not just a gathering place. It's also the place that everyone gets their a source of information. So you need a self-regulate.
So in China, I think the decision has squarely been the organizations and companies have to self-regulate and if they don't, they're liable and they're how do you do it? It's a lot of it is increasingly through done through technology machine learning, big data.
MPD: Okay. Fantastic. Taking a bigger picture on the relationship between us and Chad.
I you alluded at the beginning to how we're in a bit of a hot. Where a relations are at a low, I can't get my head around it. And what I mean by that is I'm not an expert on this, but there's a lot of countries that do not have the same value system as Americas, as America's values supposedly are aligned with countries and all different continents, human rights differences there.
Geopolitical differences, there's trade differences. So this is not new for us to have spiritual conflict with other populations and other governments, but it seems to me, there is a very clear marketing campaign designed to make most Americans be afraid of. Or concerned about or aggressive towards or negative towards whatever it may be China.
And some of those are based on policies that are real issues. And some of it seems like we're fighting them sometimes just to fight them. Where's that coming from? Is there, is it, is this something you're seeing as well? Cause I, I found myself being brainwashed by it consuming a lot of the headlines flooding through my newsfeed, but then wondering.
You know, some of the issues that it's clear to me they're misaligned of their values, others, it seems like we're just being competitive because they're succeeding economically. And I don't really have a problem with other countries succeeding economically. I think that's probably good for the world.
So what's the, do you have any perspective on kind of what's happening with the U S American relationship China American relationship, as we're undergoing this transition where China is becoming an economically dominant. Yeah, that's a
Z: great question. I think well, you first of all, I think it's important for us to recognize, admit to the fact that the two countries are very different very different in terms of history.
One is about, 300 years at most, and they're both close to 45,000 years of history. Very different in culture. When it's probably more confusion, a Buddhist in nature. The other is, Judeo-Christian, Hopkins back to that true deal, Christian tradition and very different in terms of political system.
So there's profound differences in the two countries, and we're not even talking about geography, development, phases, et cetera, et cetera. So we have to recognize that. And we also have to recognize that the two countries will be competitive in many areas. Extremely competitive in tech, in in terms of economic development, worldwide investment opportunities, worldwide, et cetera.
And I think we also have to recognize that as a power that had assumed predominance in Asia for probably several millennia, China will think that it needs to reclaim its rightful place in. And as the one superpower that has maintained world peace for the last 50 to 70 years, America does have its obligations to its traditional allies here elsewhere in, in Asia.
So it does set up a real potential for real conflict. These are all facts we cannot deny, but what's also fact is China is 1.4 billion people is really not going to work. So any simplification of this to an ideological struggle between good versus evil life and, right versus wrong, I think is just inappropriate because we have to find a way to deal with 1.4 billion people who in many ways have the same aspirations as us want to have a better life for themselves, for their families.
And want to have a better country and a better world to live in the aspirations are entirely the same. So I think the key issue, the key thing that all Americans should really think about is how do we not turn this into another ideological battle? Because I think in America, and if you want to ask me what causes this, I do think there is increasingly a configuration of.
Or a conflation between policy and politics. Politics is about slogan, right? Make America great. Again, this is the enemy. Russia is the enemy. Terrorism is the enemy. It's easy because people remember that and they'll vote you for that. But policy, a lot of times it's very complicated. It's very nuanced.
There's seldom black and white and you just have to make incremental progress. And I think increasingly what we're doing is conflating policy with politics. Now the politics is China and us is increasingly becoming a historical slash epic battle between autocracy versus democracy. But when you turn that into an ideological conflict, there's really no right and wrong.
There's really no nuances. And the middle ground, there's only right. Versus it becomes a life and death struggle. So that's the thing that I think is really scary for for America, especially since we're trying to get out of two decades of a war on terror. I do, we really want to get into another war on our policy just right when we're getting out of, $2 trillion in 20 years wasted in Afghanistan,
MPD: It's, I think we, when we were talking before another time you had mentioned that historically 20 of the last.
24 times there had been a transition of economic power from one country being the number one in the world economically to another 20 of those 24 times that resulted in war. I'm a little bit of a history nerd. I remember, I think it was world war, one, reading about some newspaper articles that had said the world was too economically integrated after world war one to have another world war and all the whole week, we landed in world war II.
The patterns of continued on economic integration. We're facing another economic transition from the U S to China, most likely going to be taking the number one seat in terms of economic horsepower. Do you think this has potential result in war? Is that part of what's going on in the messaging or is that, is this just a ruse to fill it to feed the military industrial complex, the states like.
What is motivating the narrative we're hearing or is it really just come down to brass tacks? We have ideological differences and it's going to be a good guy, bad guys scenario. That's not going to end well.
Z: Yeah, I think ultimately you're right there. There's a real potential. There's a real potential for real conflict.
And, history has not provided comforting. On how to avoid those conflicts. It's very unfortunate. I wish I could give you the reasons why and how to deal with the reasons. You've mentioned some of the reasons I've heard other people talk about some of the reasons, for example, when you have a $700 billion military budget, you gotta have an enemy, otherwise, how do you justify that money? I have heard that. Whether it's true or not, it's, I don't know, by I've heard that argument, I, I've also heard the argument in terms of, Hey, look, we just cannot give up our economic position without a real struggle. Who willingly gives up, the number one position without a struggle.
We don't do that in our personal lives. We don't do that at school. We don't do that at work. Why would we do that here? You know, I've heard that. Argument as well. Of course, I've also heard the argument that this is one of those epic struggles between the west and the east. I think it was one of the uh, former officials from the last administration that I've mentioned this how true that is.
I don't know. What I do know is this. And I think the Biden administration is cognizant that this is ultimately, it's not a struggle between the two countries. It's a struggle to be better at yourself. If the us remains divided, if the us cannot grow by itself and continue to innovate, if the us can now solve some of the fundamental issues played in this country, there's nothing that you can do to stop its waning of influence and power around the world.
And similarly of China cannot solve some of this systematic problems. There's no way. We could not just grow into the most powerful country, but also maintain that position. It has tremendous problems, like an aging population. Environment that still suffers from climate disasters in environment that has been degraded because of the rapid industrialization of the past four decades by both countries have tremendous internal problems.
And I think to have that focus on each other versus trying to solve those problems, I think it's shortsighted in my opinion. Now, the second thing is I do think one thing that us health. That has always been a strength is the innovativeness of its people, the ability to attract the world's best talent.
And what I don't want to see is in this quote, unquote, struggle with China. The us starts to forget some of those key qualities that makes it special. And in China, what I see. In my opinion, to be more, should be a more of a concern to America and the rest of the world. Then the government is the parents because in China, literally every parent I've met, every single household will have spent the preponderance of their money on educating their.
I go to China and I find little kids who played the piano, who played the flute, who draws, who fences, who swears and who can speak three languages by the age of four or six, because the parents have realized that's the only way to be competitive. And so they put so much energy on their kids' development.
Now, not all of them will turn out to be geniuses. I think many of them will turn out to be incredibly. And when you have 5,000 million such kids growing to be, uh, working adults, I think that's a force to be reckoned with. That's a real force to be reckoned with. So that for me should be something that America should be, should take heat off in some ways, hopefully America should benefit from because many of those kids actually come to the U S.
Quite a few of them stay in the us and make us the home. So the U S should be able to benefit from that. But the us should be very cognizant that in my opinion, that's the single most powerful force that's going to drive the Chinese economy going forward because Hindi ed governments. And I do agree with this.
It's very hard for government to innovate and create innovative businesses, individuals. The government can facilitate that, but ultimately you need highly capable people to to staff those organizations. In fact, you need highly capable people to staff governments as well.
MPD: XE, we've covered a bunch of different topics today.
Kind of all around the same. If you could make one ask of the people listening, who are probably likely largely Americans and likely largely entrepreneurs are in and of the tech community, what could, what should people be thinking about or doing to bring forward a better future?
Z: Yeah, exactly what you're doing, mark, which is to really post and to promote people, to people communication again, in all of my conversations, I try not to say who's right.
Who's wrong. Who's better. Who's. But to just say that, Hey, we're facing a similar set of challenges, probably historical challenges that we've never faced before. Like you said, what is the role of tech, a global climate change, a global pandemic, et cetera, et cetera. How do we come together? The brightest and the smartest people from these two significant countries to perhaps come together to solve some of these common problems.
And how do we get out of the old ideological framework, this framework, that dates back to the cold war, this framework that perhaps dates back to stereotypes that existed within two centuries ago. Now about the yellow paper. You know about the disease that comes from abroad, right? How do we get past that so that we can hopefully enter into the dialogue to solve some of these common challenges that for me, and I think for the committee is what we're really interested in and with costumes, looking for allies and friends to help us embark on that journey.
MPD: See, thanks for being on today.
Z: Thank you. It's always a pleasure speaking with you. And I look forward to a lunch.
MPD: Great conversation. Today was Z. I really enjoyed veering a little bit from straight entrepreneurial conversation. Talking a little bit of politics. I hope that was interesting to everyone listening. If you liked what you heard, please look us up with a like, or a five-star review and feel free to share with us.
You can find me on Twitter at MPD. And to hear more of my conversations with innovators, subscribe on YouTube, Facebook, or any major podcast platform. Just search for innovation with Mark Peter Davis.