The Peplow Pavilion at the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center was filled with concerned citizens and Bradley students alike to hear one man’s experience dealing with the Chinese government.
Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S. and China Relations, presented a speech last Monday night about the future of the U.S. and China’s relationship and its impact on Peoria and the rest of the world.
Orlins said U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood encouraged him to speak at the event.
“Congressman LaHood felt it would be important for me to hear the views of the people of Peoria, and I think I heard the views of the people of Peoria, as well as the views of the students at Bradley,” Orlins said.
Throughout the night, he talked about how he was deeply pessimistic about China in the short term, but was optimistic about the long-term run of the relationship. He described the paths that both parties are taking, citing a speech from former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone,” Orlins said.
According to Orlins, the threats to both countries are ones that Americans fear all too well. They include pandemics, terrorist threats, economic crisis and climate change. Orlins explained that if these threats are not addressed through the cooperation of the United States and China it could all be too real all too fast.
Orlins ended his speech by describing the ending of the movie, “The Martian” starring Matt Damon. He hopes to see both countries celebrating and cooperating together.
Some students were impressed with his optimistic tone and agreed that cooperation was the best solution.
“There’s a lot of problems facing our world and the best way… to actually fix these problems is working together with other countries instead of opposed to them,” Jonathon Braun, senior computer systems major, said. “He gave some answers I wasn’t fully anticipating and he definitely had to optimistic route to it and maybe we should be going for more optimistic route for a lot of things in life.”
The Peoria Area World Affairs Council (PAWAC) helped arrange the event. Angela Weck, executive director of PAWAC, hoped students took a lot from the presentation.
“I think there is a lot of bad publicity about how ‘bad’ China is and how evil (it is), that they’re stealing all our jobs, and I think a little perspective is helpful,” Weck said. “So, they’re neither bad nor good, but that’s important to put into your brain … they’re good in areas and not so good in other areas and that’s what I hope everyone figured out tonight.”
Orlins said he hopes students start educating themselves after the event and to continue taking steps towards building a better society.
“[Students] need to speak up,” Orlins said. “The U.S.–China relationship is critical for the peace and prosperity of the United States and that [students] need to get educated to participate in the public debate.”