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The Glass Is Still Half Full

The Asia Business Club sponsored this event, which was the final of the HBS Public Speaking Club’s Outstanding Speaker Series for 2007. Retired Lieutenant General Christman is responsible for representing the Chamber in front of foreign business leaders and government officials. Additionally, he provides strategic leadership on international issues affecting the business community while overseeing a large team of policy analysts and program coordinators who are committed to global business engagement.

Before joining the Chamber, he served as the president and executive director of the Kimsey Foundation for two years, where he helped to launch a program on political reform in China in coordination with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Christman, a career military officer who retired from active duty in 2001, served for five years as the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated first in his class. He also received MPA and MSE degrees in public affairs and civil engineering from Princeton University and graduated with honors from the George Washington University Law School.

Christman’s talk, entitled “Doing Business in China: The Glass Is Still Half Full,” highlighted both the growing opportunities in China due to privatization and the challenges that American investors must overcome. The opportunities are vast: 91% of companies surveyed by US Chamber of Commerce in 2006 said they are optimistic about the business environment in China. Moreover, the growth rate of small and medium-sized enterprises’ exports to China is five times that of larger companies and China is second largest importer of US goods after Canada. However, the challenges include intellectual property violations, a problem that exists around the world, but is seemingly worse in China. Furthermore, xenophobia among American congressmen presents continuing difficulties for people such as Christman, whose mission is to promote international trade for American business (Did you know that half the U.S. Congress does not have a passport?). In order to improve business relations between the US and China, General Christman revealed his participation in high-level discussions with Chinese ministers focused on making trade easier between the two countries.

Christman’s talk was highly successful, generating more questions from the audience than could be answered in the time allowed. Finally, the general was pulled away to Spangler Grille in order to join about twenty West Point graduates attending HBS, who remember him as one of the school’s most popular leaders.
Any questions? Email the Public Speaking Club’s Vice President of Marketing, Alex Wong, at mwong@mba2008.hbs.edu.

April 17, 2007
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