As the United States moves into the global economy, many Americans place China as an economic threat to the country.
Aminta Arrington, assistant professor of intercultural studies at John Brown University, says otherwise. Because good relations don’t come easily to the two countries, Arrington says it’s a necessary struggle they must work towards improving. Arrington lived in China for eight years before coming to JBU, and she sees where the U.S. could improve its relations with China.
“We have a history of dealing with each other for quite some time, but these are two very different political systems and cultures, and that doesn’t create a natural friendship,” said Arrington. “The Chinese are used to doing things the Chinese way, and they have a strong system of government they believe in and they don’t like to see that disparaged. We need to learn a little bit more about other cultures and their histories and stop approaching international relations like a bull in a china shop.”
Junior biology major Joshua Place lived in China for eleven years. He says Americans should learn from Chinese culture.
“The collective mindset is an interesting thing that is not really seen in America. the Chinese have accomplished so much with being so collective in how family and community oriented they are, as well as in their businesses.”
Place said thathis all has to do will with cultural awareness. “You have to completely throw out any conceptions as an American. Step back and think about what the Chinese are saying and ask yourself why they are saying it.”
Looking at this election, Arrington sees potential danger in publicly criticizing the way China operates.
“The Chinese do not like to be scolded. Whenever that happens, it’s all over the newspaper, and millions of Chinese people are angry. Taking strong public stands may do well for you in America, but it’s not going to accomplish anything in China,” Arrington said. “If we really want to accomplish something, the best way to handle it will be through back door negotiations that nobody ever hears about.”
The Chinese are very concerned with the election. Arrington is worried with the image Trump is giving. “He would come across as the caricature of the brash, self-centered American, and our whole country would be characterized that way,” said Arrington. Statements made by Trump like “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us” send the wrong message to the Chinese.
Arrington explains this idea of jobs being “stolen” is a complicated situation that needs careful handling. “Yes, there are a lot of factories in china that make things that Americans buy. That has to do with the monitoring or the intervention of the Chinese government in the exchange rate, and do Americans really want to work in factories that make cheap toys? It’s low-waged, unskilled work.” Arrington said.
This is also an easy out for America, she said. “China owns a lot of U.S. debt, and that is not China’s fault. It is really convenient for us to blame China and not look at ourselves and see we have put ourselves into this situation.”