US observer keeps close watch on two sessions

Updated: 2013-03-08 00:20

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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Joe Borich, president of the Washington State China Relations Council, is keeping a close eye on the two sessions, the annual political meetings in the country.

"China has made remarkable progress over the past 10 years with a four-fold increase in the size of its economy to become the world's second-largest, and the world's leading trading nation," he told China Daily.

"But the extraordinarily rapid pace of growth and development has created some contradictions for China that I hope the (two sessions) can begin to address," he said.

Borich served in the US Foreign Service for 25 years, about 12 of which were in China, including as US council general to Shanghai from 1994 to 1997.

As an insightful observer of the Sino-US relationship, the 69-year-old is also seen as a leading voice in the Bellevue-Seattle area and throughout Washington State.

Borich outlined the issues of most interest to him that the two sessions, and the NPC in particular, might address this year: anti-corruption, rebalancing the economy, agricultural reform, clean energy and the environment.

"I feel that the new Party leadership has shown its determination to fight corruption and has established a good style for its work on both domestic and international issues, but there is a great amount that remains to be done," he said.

Borich said that the international community has taken note of China's incoming leaders statements on improving the working style, cracking down on corruption and their setting an example in advocating thrift and opposing extravagance.

"The new leadership has a long and pressing agenda and its success will be largely measured by its success in addressing that agenda. I wish them every success, and I am encouraged by what has been done so far," he said.

As for the Sino-US relationship, he said the key link to establishing and maintaining a stable and mutually beneficial long-term relationship between the US and China is increasing the quality and number of people-to-people contacts.

"I would like to see more efforts on both sides directed toward building relationships between the people of both countries," he said.

China's flourishing Confucius Institute program in the US and the Obama administration's "100,000-Strong" initiatives are excellent examples of the sort of government programs that build mutual understanding and trust for both sides, he said.

He emphasized that the growing interest among Chinese businesses in investing abroad — particularly in the US — presents an exciting opportunity not only in terms of China's economy, but the world's.

"It is true that in the US there are still quite a few people who are suspicious of Chinese investment and the motives behind it, but here in Washington State we have already begun to see the benefits from such investment in terms of growing the economy and jobs," he said.

"We are actively encouraging more such investment, and I would be happy to discuss our state's investment environment with any potential investors from China."

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