Good morning, long-time friends and new friends. I knew Ezra Vogel almost 30 years, since early 90s. I was very sorry to hear of Vogel’s pass. Long-time exchange between we two gave me the impression of him having deep, deep knowledge of bilateral relations of the two countries, as a real scholar who studied China, Chinese culture and Chinese society so deeply that his understanding of China might be better than many Chinese.
I remember three important events, where I went to talk with him and then have very good exchange.
First one was 1998. He led a group of American experts on China and in China-US relations, which he called the “Dream Team”. What is this “Dream Team”? It included Michael Oksenberg, Michael Lampton, Douglas Paul and many other very distinguished China Studies scholars. The group leader was Ezra Vogel. They came to Shanghai and talked with my former boss Wang Daohan. They exchanged 2 days on China-US relations, preparing the visit of Jiang Zemin to the US. And Ezra, I remember that time, he told my boss that we are going to set up a solid, sustainable China-US relations, a common strategic partnership for the 21st century. And many scholars in the US, also in China, at that time were debating very heated, very hot, if China-US friend or enemy. And Ezra believed that China and the US should live together, work together. His idea was that was accepted by all the members of this group. So this group, when they went back to the US, they wrote the book called Living with China. This book was very, very important. It was the base of the policy of engagement between China and the US. So I admire this group and the group leader, Ezra Vogel. His policy designing, I think, has been proved by time and by the bilateral relationship in the last 30 years. And some people during the Trump administration broke this policy, and have been proven totally wrong. And we should repair, and we should keep the thinking of this group, this “Dream Team”. I think Vogel’s contribution was so great, and still we should read this book again.
The second is what he spoke in his famous book, Deng Xiaoping's Time and the Transformation of China. He talked with me several times when I went to Harvard and he visited Shanghai. He put my name on the preface, and said thank you to me, I was very honored. He wrote his name and signed on the book he gave me called old and respected friend Huang Renwei, and asked my opinion. It's not so important. But the most important is, through this book, he put Deng Xiaoping’s historical position in a very high stack. He observed Deng Xiaoping by all different perspectives, so the book is very objective, and it can be tested by time and by practice. No matter whoever agree or disagree with Deng Xiaoping should read this book, and give the conclusion that Deng Xiaoping changed China, and changed the world.
And the third is, we worked together on China’s studies. I was the secretary general of China’s Study Forum for more than 15 years. He joined our forum 3 times, and we gave him the reward of contribution on China studies, he was the receiver of this award. By Accepting this reward, he made a speech on China Studies Forum, and told us how he worked from Japanese studies to China studies, and compared the two studies and put down together. Then he not only stayed there on classical studies, but moved to practical and realistic policy studies. This is a real scholar and expert on Japanese and China studies. I think we have very few scholars like him who can both understand Chinese and Japanese culture so deeply. I know the other one was Scalapino. Scalapino used his own framework on jap political and jap graphic analysis, but not like Ezra, from the culture, from the deep traditional analysis. So Vogel’s China studies and Japanese studies can be put in this way, he had much deeper and profound understanding for the two countries.
Now, I should conclude my thinking. How can we learn from Ezra? That's 3 points.
1. Understanding the culture is the base of understanding of a country. Ezra’s deep understanding of Chinese culture and Japanese culture is his solid base of China studies and Japanese studies.
2. The deeply understanding the direction of China's development. Ezra has the best understanding of China’s opening and reform. His works always followed its way, where China is going on and where it’s going to.
3. He is a very excellent field survey expert. He has done plain survey works in China. He spent 10 years in Guangdong to understand the first stage of China’s opening and reform. I think now American scholars have less practical survey like Ezra, who did this work in the 1980s. So that's why he didn't move from this end to that end, he always kept on the solid and correct direction. So last 2 years, when Trump administration and Pompeo made many noises, Ezra stood out and made a full statement that China is not an enemy of the US, and he organized the hundred scholars open letter on the Washington Post, that was his idea, opening it to the united states, the public audience and the world.
So that's why I really admire him. He is my teacher, the best America scholar on China’s studies.