James McGregor says one word describes the Chinese people: Ambition

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping pause for photographs as they walk together at Mar-a-Lago, Friday, April 7, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Alex Brandon | AP

Duluth, Minnesota native James McGregor has lived and worked as a journalist and businessman in China for 30 years, and says one word describes the Chinese: ambition.

They're all about making China great again, he said during a lecture at the University of Minnesota China Center on April 15.

During the 2016 president election, China was portrayed by now-President Donald Trump as a thief, stealing millions of American jobs.

The recent rhetoric has made the already anti-Western attitude in China worse, McGregor said.

"So, this is time for people who care about both countries to kind of stand up and do their best to have communication and not have things go off the rails," he said.

Both countries are going through uncertain times, both politically and economically. But blaming the other side isn't the answer, McGregor said.

China and America are focused on making their countries "great." That goal involves a lot of advancement, money and focus — and not a lot of sharing, which is what causes blowback globally.

"It almost becomes like economic warfare," McGregor said.

McGregor was a longtime China reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and is now a businessman and chairman of APCO Worldwide's greater China region.

McGregor is the author of two highly regarded books, "No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers" and "One Billion Customers." He says the U.S. and China have a deep and complicated relationship.

This speech was the annual Bob and Kim Griffin "Building US-China Bridges" lecture at the University of Minnesota China Center.

To listen to the speech, click the audio player above.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.