The 74th Oregon Legislative Assemble begins 1/8/07. Both houses of the Legislature and the Governor's office will be controlled by Democrats. This is what I would advise them:
The most significant and substantial action the Oregon 74th Legislative Assembly could take for world peace is to fund dramatic increases in Mandarin language and study abroad in China programs for Oregon students. It should be on every progressive’s legislative agenda.
See if you agree with the NY investment guru in this video that “China is the next great country whether we like it or not. The best skill that I can give her (his daughter) is absolute fluency in Chinese Mandarin..."
Now Sino-US relations are about more than whether rich folks in NY City can find Mandarin speaking nannies to give their children advantages. Sino-US relations are the pivotal relations for world peace and stability. There are many contemporary crises (the Middle East, North Korea, terrorists, pandemics) but the central strategic and security issue of the 21st century will be the emergence of China as a world power and how the United States and China relate to each other. If these two great powers can get along, many other problems are solvable. If not, nuclear war and societal chaos are not impossible.
We need to invest in the development of a generation of Mandarin proficient and China experienced students, then adult citizen, to tend to our relationship with China. The most important decision our next generation will make may be whether to go to war with China or not. We need to invest now to insure that their decision is made wisely and not on the basis of an inflated military threat such as Barnett, Lind, and Kaplan give us warnings.
Currently, less that 1% of Oregon high school graduates have had two years or more of Mandarin (not enough to be proficient). During the 2003-04 academic year, 1,877 Oregon University System students studied abroad (2.25% of the total enrollment of 79,558). Of those 35 studied abroad in China (1.86% of students studying abroad and 0.044% of total enrollment). These are not the statistics of a student generation prepared for the 21st century or to wisely manage Sino-US relations.
Together with Rep. Dennis Richardson (I am still looking for an Oregon Democrat to promote this issue), I have a proposal “Developing the China Connection through Educational Programs” pending before the Oregon Business Plan. Mandarin programs assist economic development as well as world peace. I have my own $12 million proposal “Oregon Comprehensive Mandarin Development Program” seeking legislative and executive support. And I have started my own weblog (less a blog, more annotated links to relevant articles).
More voices and ideas are needed on this issue. Educational programs are where the foreign policy of tomorrow starts. We can in Oregon promote our own constructive engagement with China. We might even, if we could summon the will for dramatic expansions in Mandarin programs, create a tilting point and change the course of world history.