I don’t believe that economic and cultural interaction automatically brings greater peace and understanding, although it may help in that regard.
Now, I believe that war is never inevitable until it starts, but there has been a great proclivity in human history, and including in recent history, for war.
So, anything that avoids a conflict that could draw in, unhappily again, outside powers such as the United States or revisit, for example, Japan’s interests in the Taiwan area would be the last thing that anyone would want.
The greater concerns in China and Taiwan are on the political side, not on the economic side.
The most important thing that certainly the United States and other Asian and Pacific actors have done is to urge that whatever happens, however the dispute is resolved, that it be resolved peacefully.
A war in the Taiwan Strait would destroy China’s international relations overnight. It would destroy Chinese – Japanese relations, not to mention Chinese – American relations.
The reform of state industry, and most directly related to that, the banking sector, is enormously daunting.
You could argue that war is always an irrational act, and yet many states enter into military conflict out of rational calculation or national interest or the stability or longevity of their regime.
East Asia has prospered since the end of the Vietnam War, and Northeast Asia has prospered since the end of the Korean War in a way that seems unimaginable when you think of the history of the first half of the century.
The PRC is the big brother in this relationship, and it has the capacity to be generous to Taiwan on this issue in a manner that might do much to defuse that issue internally in Taiwan.
Another goal is to look to the resources we have and to see how we could do better to plan, in a sense, for the faculty and infrastructure that we will need to study Asia well into the 21st century.
The Chinese government since 1979 has been very successful in economic development, and successful enough, simply by surviving, in the realm of political development.
There is no question that Taiwan is a state in any political science definition of a state.
I would hope we would begin a series of projects that would do more to bring the different parts of the university together in the study of Asia, for example, in the study of the professions in Asia.
And look at the mess that Russia is; most Chinese don’t want to follow that.
Harvard is first and foremost a university and not a consulting operation, and our job here is to teach and to research and to create knowledge on Asia in conjunction and in cooperation with scholars as well as with political, intellectual, and cultural leaders in Asia.