The U.S. - China relation is like a hotpot under fire, the broth is gradually boiling. If you were ever experienced with a hotpot dinner, you would know that your food was what you put into the hotpot. The taste of your food gets the benefit of the broth as well as from what your dinner partner put into the hotpot to cook. So the important thing for sharing a good hotpot dinner is to first agree on a mutually acceptable broth and order your own food components, seafood, meats, tofu, vegetables and species which hopefully are compatible with the food ingredients your partner selected. There are lots of food components that can be cooked in the hotpot appealing to one’s appetite as well as contributing to the flavor of the broth (known as pot bottom) that is continuously developing in flavor during the hotpot dinner. Only in an cooperative way, the partners sharing a hotpot banquet will enjoy a great meal together and often the resulting cooked broth will be so delicious which can be shared and enjoyed by all participants. Furthermore, the tasty remaining hotpot broth can be saved for next day for cooking a pot of noodles or rice or macaroni serving more people. So the hotpot cuisine is an art of making agreeable choices of compatible broth, food components and species so to produce an enjoyable meal for all. However, if any disagreeable choice was made, the hotpot could be ruined and even possibly cracked open under unattended fire. This “hotpot analogy” of the US-China relation can be understood and appreciated better, if we characterize the past US-China relationship as the starting broth, a very agreeable broth developed through “mutual engagement”, now the broth is being added with too much vinegar (business sanctions), extra soy sauce and salt (tariffs in trade) and hot chilli pepper or jalapeno (weapon race) making the food and broth too sour and too hot to eat.
There are plenty of commentators discussing the issues and warning the consequences of the souring or not U.S.-China relationship. One of the key factors for the deteriorating U.S. - China Relations is the rapid rise of China with an economic growth rate (GDP) of three to four times of that of the U.S. in the past couple of decades. This fact should not be a reason for the U.S. to take a hostile attitude targeting China (spoiling the broth), rather it should be a motivation factor for the U.S. to investigate why is China able to sustain such a high growth rate. In another word, what is the secret of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) keeping China in a high growth for decades? Many political analysts have studied and compared the political systems in China and the United States. They have tried to pinpoint a causality principle for China’s rapid rise but rarely making sense. Thus the political rhetoric continues on, debating the superiority of “democracy” versus “authoritarian” system with the argument leaning towards blaming the latter system stealing from the former system through State owned enterprises (SOEs) taking advantages of the free enterprises (NGOs, non-Government owned). In my personal observations, I have come to a conclusion that the above assertion is illogical. Rather, there is a simple causality principle which can explain why the CCP has been a successful achiever. This causality principle is based on a philosophy - “協調， Xie Tiao” for success, that is, the CCP is requiring all its party members to develop and use this high EQ skill. This skill would be regarded more important than having professional knowledge and project management skill, if a party member was ever to serve in the government and to manage a government project. The CCP’s party authority is actually acquired and built on the above coordination and management skills. I shall explain this secret of success of CCP with more details and supporting evidences below.
The word, “Xie Tiao”, has no exact single English word translation. I used the word coordination and management skill above to represent “Xie Tiao”, but one must add a few modifiers to convey its complete meaning. “Xie Tiao is a verb and a noun describing a concept or philosophy which implies “providing assistance and persuasion while coordinating a task or project involving doing a set of actions to obtain consensus and to assure success” in a persistent and patient manner. The above modifiers only explained the word, “Xie Tiao”, as a noun - concept and philosophy, but as a verb - action and process one must use examples and actual cases to explain it. First, the CCP not only teaches its members the concept and philosophy of “Xie Tiao” (noun) with literature and studies but also trains its members the action and process of “Xie Tiao”(verb) by assigning them responsibilities from low level to high level government management jobs (village, county, city, province then national level) in progression and/or government projects (small tasks to billions of dollars projects). The promotions of CCP members are results and success oriented. Therefore, the public service officials in China are extremely effective in obtaining success but appearing not so efficient due to time consuming “Xie Tiao” work, patiently and persistently coordinating across their peer level (horizontally) to get endorsement and cooperation as well as across their stake holders (vertically) to build consensus, approval and support.
The above explanation can be confirmed by many examples, from small project to big project in CCP’s economic development plans. The prominent cases are the various industrial parks, science and technology parks and economic development zones that have been built from the South and East growing into North and West. These parks and zones were competing for success and success were replicated elsewhere. Another area providing ample evidence of the “Xie Tiao for success” is in the energy domain, from various energy exploration, oil, gas, solar, wind, thermal, methane ice to the now famous Yangtze River hydropower. The Yangtze project is not only a grand engineering project but also an amazing “Xie Tiao” project requiring persuasion and coordination from getting consensus from millions of citizens (simple support to agreeing to be relocated hundreds of miles away) and getting financial and administrative support from all levels of government. There are plenty of other examples such as across State mega-infrastructure project, satellite communication and geo positioning system. The fact hundreds of millions of Chinese are lifted above the poverty level and being elevated towards middle class speaks volume to CCP’s success which can all be traced to the fundamental philosophy: Xie Tiao for success!
In the United States, such “Xie Tiao for success” breaks down often across interest groups and geographic regions; the high speed rail project from North to South California dragging on over ten years is a pitiful example. China now has over one hundred thousand miles of “gao tie 高鐵“ in a grid covering the entire China. The “Xie Tiao” philosophy or skills work in China; will it work outside of China? I personally am anxious to see the success of the “One Belt and One Road” or “Belt and Road Initiative”. The early results do show some success but also some set backs. We shall watch the progress in BRI and see whether the “Xie Tiao” philosophy can be universally accepted.