RE: Hold Hearings on What a Rising China Means for
If Oregon wants to be a player in the global economy, then more of our students need to take some targeted foreign languages (Mandarin, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, & Korean, for examples of languages of large, growing markets) and they need to spend time in that foreign country. Mandarin is a special case both because of the growing size of China’s economy and because some in the
US see China as our natural enemy. As an example of inflating the China threat see the enclosed Atlantic Monthly article “How We Would Fight China: The Middle East is just a blip. The American military contest with China in the Pacific will define the twenty-first century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was.”
The most important public decision our children will make is whether or not to go to war with China. We must prepare them for that decision. We need to develop a generation that is so knowledgeable about
China (from many of them knowing the language and having been there) that they cannot be easily led to war with China. Expanding Mandarin programs is the most significant action for peace this legislature could take. And if we do not invest in the skills need for maintaining peace with China, (skills that will boost our trade economy) all other advances (health care, education, economy) become moot. Beyond just what could be lost in an unnecessary war, progress on energy and the global environment depends upon a cooperative relationship with China. Much is at stake!
Last year Oregon had less than 100 high school students graduate with two years or more of Mandarin. There are now additional Mandarin classes starting around the state, but I do not think they will take us over 330 students per year – which is about 1% of our high school graduates. These are not the statistics of a state prepared to be a player in the global economy or one ready to engage China for world peace.
This is not an issue to be left to the national government. You know that, under the current executive leadership, it will do little. Education is primarily a state and local responsibility. You have this responsibility: to ensure that Oregon students are prepared in the future to decide whether war with China is in the national interest or not.
I am writing to you as a Democratic member of the Oregon Senate. This issue is bipartisan, but you as a Democrat control the agenda. And the first step is to hold hearings on what a rising China means for
Oregon, especially seeking to understand how important (and why) China will be in the lives of our children. So I urge you to support holding hearings on China by the Senate committee you think appropriate. Not to hold such hearings would be a colossal failure in self government. Bring the most informed and best mind before a Senate committee. We have knowledgeable academics and business people in Oregon capable of giving a briefing on what a rising China means for the future of Oregon.
Oncethe magnitude of the challenges and opportunities posed by China are generally understood, then you can proceed to hearings on proposed responses.
Thomas L Friedman wrote recently in his 11/10/06 NY Times column: “I still believe that when the history of this era is written, the trend that historians will cite as the most significant will not be 9/11 and the U.S. invasions of
Afghanistan and Iraq. It will be the rise of China and India. How the world accommodates itself to these rising powers, and how
America manages the economic opportunities and challenges they pose, is still the most important global trend to watch.”
The relevant questions are: What will future historian write as to the response of this Democratic Legislature to the rise of China and
India? Will the Legislature even have explored this historic trend in hearings? I hope so.