Akin to a fortune cookie, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. also had a prophecy to offer us.
“I suspect that the most important story at the end of the century will be the rise of China and the reaction to the rise of China,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman came to Augustana to inform students, alumni, professors and community members about the relationship between China and the United States during the 18th annual Boe Forum, which took place at 7 p.m. Monday evening in the Elmen Center.
“This is a China that’s rapidly changing,” Huntsman said. “China will have to engage with the world in ways they never have before.”
Huntsman spoke conversationally with both humor and sincerity to an audience of approximately 1500 people, canvassing topics including the influences on China, the emerging themes in China’s government and the challenges China is facing as they continue to become a bigger player on the world stage. After his prepared lecture, Huntsman fielded questions from senior government majors Anna Ochs and Peter Kline.
“China has obviously jumped from a position of obscurity,” Kline said in response to Huntsman’s address.
Huntsman talked “about stuff we’re actively learning about,” Ochs said.
Center for Western Studies director Harry Thompson agrees with both Ochs and Kline.
“For Augustana students, China will be the determining factor in their lives, as well as the U.S.,” Thompson said.
Kline also acknowledged the affect China may have on competition with the United States.
Huntsman was brought in as a part of the yearly Boe Forum lectures that take place with funding from former South Dakota Gov. Nils Boe in order to bring prominent speakers to the college with the goal of educating the populace about important global topics.
Before coming to speak at Augustana’s Elmen Center, Huntsman was the governor of Utah, the nation’s ambassador to both China and Singapore, an administrator for four U.S. presidents, a recipient of seven honorary doctorates and a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Huntsman admits that he got involved in politics because of his failure at becoming a professional rock musician.
However, he insists that he has been immersed in the discussion about China ever since.
“Let me take you back to my origins,” Huntsman said. And for him, the relationship begins at home for both countries.
“In order to protect strength abroad, we must be strong at home,” Huntsman said.
He also argues that domestic expectations in China will influence how the country continues to develop both internally and among the world’s nations.
“People want change, and they expect change from these new leaders,” Huntsman said. “The dynamic in northeast Asia is an interesting one.”
Up until now, “They were always happy to stay in the slipstream of the United States,” Huntsman said. Now, the game has changed.
“China is now beginning to understand what it means to embrace global responsibility,” Huntsman said.
Sophomore and audience member Keegan Carda particularly resonated with this point.
“I like how he talked about how China is going to have to start thinking about things other than itself,” Carda said.
Despite all the influencing factors that both the United States and China are facing as relations continue, Huntsman sums up the relationship in just a few choice words.
“Whether we realize it or not, we are moving at lightning speed,” Huntsman said. “Hang on for the ride, ladies and gentlemen.”