The Oregon Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education is currently holding hearings on the budget for higher education. I have submitted the following written public testimony, my second on the higher ed budget. It has not been posted yet:
Co-Chairs Representative Komp and Senator Monroe and members of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education,
With appropriate respect for mentioned individuals and institutions, and with hopes for change, I testify on HB 5024 and the funding of higher education in Oregon.
The presidents, faculty, and, now, boards of Oregon's three major public universities are failing to provide the educational leadership needed in this period of significant global change. China and other powers are rising with rapidly growing economies and growing militaries. China, in particular, presents significant business opportunities and well as significant national security challenges. Oregon could increase its future economic development by teaching more of its students Mandarin and sending them to study abroad in China. Oregon could reduce the likelihood of war with China by teaching more of its students Mandarin and sending them to study abroad in China? But the presidents, faculty, and, boards of Oregon's three major public universities are not producing enough students with these skills and experiences. Nor are they trying to reshape Oregon's pre-kindergarten through graduate school education system so that it will in the future produce such graduates. Their leadership failures affect us all.
Economic importance of China to Oregon
Oregon’s best economic future is to sell more goods and services abroad, especially to the growing markets in Asia and around the Pacific Rim. Consider the chart below: “Shares of Global Middle-Class Consumption, 2000-2050” from the National Intelligence Council’s report Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. Note the diminishing share of the United States. Note the growing shares of China, India, and Other-Asia.
This is the likely world our next generations, today's students, will live in.
Oregon’s challenge is to adapt to this developing economic reality and to become more of an internationally oriented city. Key to this adaption is to develop a more multilingual workforce with experiences in the important growing markets abroad.
I am not alone in seeing a more international future for Oregon. There is the "Greater Portland Global: Global Trade and Investment Plan" report recently developed and published by Greater Portland Inc, the Portland Development Commission, the Brooking Institution, JP Morgan Chase and others.
The report begins:
The Imperative To Go Global
Global engagement is not optional if Greater Portland is to realize widely-shared economic growth and prosperity - it is imperative. Increased access to global markets and foreign investment is the most direct path for Greater Portland to create and maintain a sufficient number of quality jobs to support the region's growing population.
The need to embrace international markets is urgent. Ninety-five percent (95%) of the world's consumers live outside of the United States, and 79% of global GDP growth is projected to occur outside the U.S. over the next five years.
At this early stage, Greater Portland Inc has not yet involved local K-12 school districts in their efforts. When they do, they will want the development of a multilingual workforce through the expansion of dual language immersion programs.
Utah is racing ahead
Elsewhere, Utah is setting the pace. Building on their base of international businessmen (with Mormon mission experiences abroad) Utah is adding additional dual language immersion programs to gain a competitive advantage in global markets.
With the cooperation of higher education in Utah, Utah is developing an immersion education system that will permit student to complete a minor in a foreign language by the time they finish high school. Students can also take the AP test in ninth grade for college credit.
Possibility of War With China: "China’s rise is unlikely to be tranquil"
From the "Foreign Affairs" article "Will China's Rise Lead to War?" (2011) by Charles Glaser:
The rise of China will likely be the most important international relations story of the twenty-first century, but it remains unclear whether that story will have a happy ending. Will China's ascent increase the probability of great-power war? Will an era of U.S.-Chinese tension be as dangerous as the Cold War? Will it be even worse, because China, unlike the Soviet Union, will prove a serious economic competitor as well as a geopolitical one?..
.... In the end, therefore, the outcome of China's rise will depend less on the pressures generated by the international system than on how well U.S. and Chinese leaders manage the situation. Conflict is not predetermined -- and if the United States can adjust to the new international conditions, making some uncomfortable concessions and not exaggerating the dangers, a major clash might well be avoided.
From "The National Interest" article "Can China Rise Peacefully?" (2014) by John J. Mearsheimer:
... But if those who are bullish on China are correct, it will almost certainly be the most important geopolitical development of the twenty-first century, for China will be transformed into an enormously powerful country. The attendant question that will concern every maker of foreign policy and student of international politics is a simple but profound one: can China rise peacefully?...
.... My argument in a nutshell is that if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. The United States, however, will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony. Most of Beijing’s neighbors, including India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, and Vietnam, will join with the United States to contain Chinese power. The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war. In short, China’s rise is unlikely to be tranquil....
.... The intensified security competition that lies ahead will only increase China’s hostility toward Japan and the United States, and it is likely to turn into an acute case of hypernationalism. Of course, this development will, in turn, further intensify the security competition and heighten the possibility of war. In essence, ideology will matter in Asia in the future just as it mattered during the Cold War. But the content will be different, as hypernationalism in China, and possibly other Asian countries as well, will replace the dispute between communism and liberal capitalism. That said, the main driving force behind Sino-American relations in the decades ahead will be realist logic, not ideology.
Reminder: China has nuclear weapons: Portland is a likely target
In 2006, the Federation of American Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council published a report "Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning." Figure 95 (below) is from Chapter 4: Simulated U.S. and Chinese Nuclear Strikes.
Note that Portland is among the twenty cities targeted.
Given Mearsheimer's assessment that there will be "an be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war," the ongoing growth and sophistication of China's nuclear arsenal, and the likely targeting of Portland in simulated scenarios, Oregon has a significant interest in the evolution of United States - China relations.
Too few Oregon university students studying Mandarin:
On 2/14/07, in a public hearing held by the Oregon House Education Subcommittee on Higher Education, the three major Oregon public universities reported data on the numbers of students studying Mandarin. While each of the universities reported their data a bit differently, this is my summary:
I am not aware of more recent data and would encourage this Subcommittee to request a current update from the three major public universities. Data on Oregon University System students studying abroad follows (for the latest year available online):
How Oregon's education system responds to the rise of China is a serious issue. The presidents, faculty, and boards of Oregon's three major public universities need to provide more leadership. Oregon could increase its future economic development by teaching more of its students Mandarin and sending them to study abroad in China. Oregon could reduce the likelihood of war with China by teaching more of its students Mandarin and sending them to study abroad in China.