Michael Justin Lee

Both the US and China should cooperate in setting up microfinance to use the massive pools over underutilized human capital, writes Michael Justin Lee in the China US Focus.

Michael Justin Lee:

The potential for Sino-American cooperation in this area would be immense. Both countries have tremendous pools of underutilized human capital and, I suspect, tremendous pools of gray market capital as well. This joint research need not be limited to microfinance of course. Although I personally favor it, it would need to prove itself in actual practice. Does it work in the western Chinese provinces or in the Beijing migrant ghettos? Does it work in the American inner city or in the Mississippi delta? Neither I nor anyone else will actually know until it is attempted.

There could be no failure in a good faith attempt. Success of course is in everyone’s interest but empirical evidence that microfinance is not efficacious has merit too. And unlike other joint endeavors, it requires neither vast amounts of capital nor extended periods of diplomatic hurdling.

Most important, there would be no ideological hurdles to overcome. Like it or not, neither capitalism nor communism has adequately addressed the plight of the poorest of the poor so neither country can claim the moral high ground. This greatly increases the potential for effective joint research.

I can imagine how in any other joint Sino-American endeavor, the issue of one country’s “superiority” might rear its head. But I see how that possibility would be greatly reduced by the inarguable need for successful cooperation at the human level. If researchers ever digressed from the path of evidentiary objectivity, they need only look into the eyes of the “subjects” to be jolted back to the reality of their work.

More in the China US Focus.

Michael Justin Lee is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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