China Is More Peaceful Than the U.S.
Jimmy Carter is the 39th president of the United States. He was born in 1924 in the small farming town of Plains, Georgia, the son of a peanut farmer. He received a bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. In the Navy he became a submariner, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and rising to the rank of lieutenant. Chosen for the nuclear submarine program, Carter also took graduate work at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics.
In 1946, he married Rosalynn Smith. When his father died in 1953, he resigned his naval commission and returned with his family to Georgia, where he took over the Carter farms and became active in the community, serving on county boards supervising education, the hospital authority, and the library. In 1962 he won election to the Georgia Senate. He lost his first gubernatorial campaign in 1966, but won the next election, becoming Georgia's 76th governor in 1971.
Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. During his presidency he negotiated a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed the Camp David Accords and the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and established diplomatic relations with China. On the domestic side, the administration's achievements included a comprehensive energy program conducted by a new Department of Energy; deregulation in energy, transportation, communications, and finance; major educational programs under a new Department of Education; and major environmental protection legislation. He lost his reelection in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, in part because of the Iran hostage crisis, in which 52 U.S. citizens were held hostage by Iranian revolutionaries who overthrew the government.
In 1982, he founded The Carter Center. Actively guided by President Carter, the nonpartisan and nonprofit Center addresses national and international issues of public policy. In 2002, Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."
Question: What role will China play in the 21st century?
Jimmy Carter: Well China changed in many ways because of a decision I made to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and China after 35 years of estrangement. Yet at the same time China announced that on December 15, 1978, they also announced they would have a complete reform within China and in China’s relationship with the outside world. And so since that date, January 1, 1979, China has expanded its freedom within its country and also has been very aggressive in their foreign policy.
So now no matter where you go in the world—in any country in Africa or Latin America and other place—you will find that China is very deeply involved in the affairs of that country. So China, I think, is now destined to be one of the great powers, not only in trade and commerce—they have now exceeded Japan in that respect—but also a great power in international affairs. And I don’t believe that China, in my lifetime or maybe my children’s lifetime, be equal to the United States, militarily speaking. But they are very careful to avoid any engagement in war. They are basically a peaceful country, which gives them another advantage over the United States when we are much more inclined to go to war for various reasons.
So, China is going to be a competitor in the future, I hope it will be a friendly relationship between the United States and China.
Recorded November 30, 2010
Interviewed by Andrea Useem
Produced by Jonathan Fowler
Over the next 50 years, China will become a global superpower, but unlike the U.S., it is very careful to avoid the entanglements of war.