The Edmond Sun


June 1, 2012

Modernization consumes today’s China

EDMOND — Unless you see it in person, the pace of economic development in China is almost too much to believe. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m more convinced than ever that our nation is unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead of us.

In the last two weeks I’ve visited four Chinese universities with the intent on establishing new international partnerships for the UCO College of Business. These partnerships are important to UCO for two reasons. First, they offer a potential source of new revenue to the university. With a population four times that of the U.S. and a youth culture fascinated by all-things American, U.S. higher-education institutions are very popular in China.

Second, Chinese students offer significant non-financial benefits to U.S institutions as well. With more than 3,200 business majors at UCO, we cannot afford to send all of them on an international experience (nor can they all afford it themselves). However, instead of our students going into the world, we can bring the world to our students — ensuring that our students will have the opportunity to interact with students from around the world right here in their Edmond classrooms.

I know that as the Dean of the UCO College of Business, visiting China provided an important opportunity to promote my university. But as an economist, I also know that visiting China would give me an invaluable first-hand look at their economic progress. What I saw surprised even me.

While each city I visited — the inland cities of Xi’an and Tiayuan, the coastal city of Xiamen, and the capital Beijing — each had a distinctive culture and distinct levels of westernization, the one constant was the immense pace of development. While in Oklahoma City we were mesmerized by the construction of the new Devon Tower, in each city I visited there were hundreds of high-rise buildings under construction. While Oklahoma’s government has struggled for years to find funding for a new medical examiner’s building, the governments in China are making immense investments in buildings and infrastructure. Take the city of Xi’an, where the Xi’an University of International Studies is building a new large campus on the outskirts of town. What’s most amazing is that in that small suburb alone there are 20 Chinese universities building shining, new campuses today!

Whoever first said that “everything is bigger in Texas”, apparently never saw modern China.

The problem is that too few Americans, including me, understand the culture shaping today’s China. Too often we Americans view today’s U.S.-China relationship through the lens of the Cold War’s U.S.-Soviet relationship. But while China still vows allegiance to the Communist Party, today’s China is very different from our old Cold War foe. In fact, while Mao’s face still adorns the Chinese currency, today’s China is a far cry from the China even he envisioned. This makes you wonder whether Mao would even approve of today’s China.

Despite our ignorance though, China is ascending. A few years ago journalist Fareed Zakaria authored a book titled “The Post-American World” in which he argued not that America would fall but that other powers in the world would rise. My visit to China the past few weeks confirms for me that that time is rapidly approaching.

In the next few decades we will see a China that increasingly flexes its power on economic, military, political and environmental issues. We will see a China that rivals the U.S. for super-power status.

History shows us that such a bipolar world will follow one of two paths — either one of intense conflict or respectful cooperation. In the case of the former, as it was with the Cold War, there will be a long, painful battle to the death — one side must change for the conflict to end. In the case of the latter though, both sides respectfully work through problems to everyone’s mutual benefit.

It is true that today’s China, despite their economic progress, still does not share our perspectives on liberty. Here, we treasure the value and rights of the individual. There, the government does not even trust its citizens to interact with non-Chinese on popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. We do come from different worlds.

Because of that, and because our future, our prosperity, and our national security depend upon us developing a cooperative relationship with China, we must do more to peacefully engage our Chinese friends. This does not mean we must sacrifice our ideals that everyone is endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. But we must remember that those ideals are not shared everywhere. After all, it was not all that long ago when those ideas were quite revolutionary here too.

After World War II the U.S. government understood that it was in our national interest to help develop the European economy so we committed to do just that. Today, it is in our national interest to understand and peacefully engage China. One way to do this is to launch a new program to support American students who want to travel to, and study in, China.

Whenever I travel abroad, it always makes me love my country more. This is where I want to live, where I want to work and where I want to raise my family. As an American I love who we are, and what we strive to be. But every time I travel abroad, I am reminded that we are not alone. That more than ever, our future depends upon us recognizing that we are a part of a global community — one that craves our leadership and increasingly, will demand our respect.

MICKEY HEPNER is the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Academy.

Text Only
  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results