The human rights record within China seems to rise and fall over time, but it's very clear that in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and since then, there's been a greater intolerance of dissent and the human rights record of China has been going in the wrong direction.
I understand that in these difficult economic times, the potential for any additional expense is not welcomed by American businesses. But in the long run, the health insurance reform law promises to cut health-care costs for U.S. businesses, not expand them.
China is a country, still, of great contrast. While hundreds of millions of people are part of the middle class and yearn for things made in America - American brands, movies, music - there are other hundreds of millions of people throughout China who are living on the equivalent of one U.S. dollar a day.
For generations, people have come to U.S. shores to seek opportunity. It's what my grandfather did a century ago, when he came to Seattle, and worked as a houseboy just one mile from the Washington State governor's mansion that I was privileged to inhabit for eight years.
China's own recent history proves that when it opens itself, there is nothing its people cannot accomplish. A more open China will lead to a more prosperous and stable China. That's good for China, the United States and, indeed, the entire world.
China's history is marked by thousands of years of world-changing innovations: from the compass and gunpowder to acupuncture and the printing press. No one should be surprised that China has re-emerged as an economic superpower.
Americans are very easygoing people. If the added attention and great visibility that I have been able to generate can help open doors and expose more Chinese to American values and the American way of life, that is great.
We want to promote people-to-people exchanges so that China and the United States can really join together, not just to solve the problems of China or the United States, but some of the big problems facing the entire world. From climate change to famine to even terrorism.
The growth model China has relied on for the last 30 years - one predicated on low-cost exports to the rest of the world and investment in resource intensive heavy manufacturing - is unlikely to serve it well in the next 30 years.
On top of my to-do list in preparing for Beijing is 'On China' by Henry Kissinger, who has had firsthand experience with every top Chinese leader since Mao, so his insights are valuable and his access is perhaps unrivaled.
If the Chinese can't buy U.S. products, they'll buy them from European countries and then develop stronger economic ties with France and Germany and perhaps side more with those countries when international issues flare up.
The explosive growth in places like Shanghai has helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into a thriving new middle class. What China has done is nothing short of an economic transformation, and the citizens of this country have every right to be proud.