Johns Hopkins - Nanjing University
Center for Chinese and American Studies
June 2, 2011
I want to thank your co-directors and I want to thank you. That is the nicest Nanjing welcome I’ve ever had.
It is a great honor to be here with all of you. And I am here with about 70 Maryland business leaders and leaders in academia, including Pam Cranston from Johns Hopkins University, and others. I am also here with William O'Malley, age 13, who sits in the front row. William was sent here by the most important person in the State, his mother.
It is great to be with all of you and William has been trying to teach me some Chinese while I’m here. I haven’t done as well as he has, but I’m taught to say, ‘Xia wu hao.’ [Translation: Good afternoon.] (Applause.)
And I am so very, very impressed with this student body. I’ve heard about your program, the discipline that all of you have had to bring to your course of studies, whether from the United States or from China. The sort of immersion that it requires of one’s brain to be able to think and speak and defend your thesis in a language that was not your first, is really remarkable and I don’t mind saying very, very inspiring to so many of us that are on this mission from Maryland.
I also understand – and, in fact, have rearranged my schedule in order to witness and be there first-hand – that you all have a great Dragon Boat team. (Applause.) And so you’re competing tomorrow, huh? Who here is on the Dragon Boat team? Anybody here, raise your hand. (Applause.)
Do you train all year for this? At least for a couple weeks, right? A few months? That’s great. We used to do Dragon Boat races. Catholic Charities would put on Dragon Boat races in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Any of you ever heard of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor? Very famous. And Catholic Charities would sponsor Dragon Boat races and the teams would come in and the Mayor’s office had a team and it was a disaster. (Laughter.)
I did not participate, I cheered from the side. We did that for a couple years. We had T-shirts that I will never forget. They took a quote from our initial inauguration when I was first elected Mayor of Baltimore, we had said it had become the most addicted and violent and abandoned city in America. And so our Dragon Boat team took from my initial inaugural remarks the phrase, “When there is no wind, we row.” And that became the slogan of the Dragon Boat team.
So, anyway, look, I’m wishing you good luck tomorrow, I will be there from the banks and I understand that betting is illegal, so I won’t be doing any of that. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Hopkins-Nanjing for the invitation to talk with you today and I am looking forward to the Q&A most. And so they gave me the option of speaking for a half an hour and then doing Q&A for 15 minutes. With your permission, I’ll flip that and speak for 15 minutes so we’ll have more time for Q&A. And, by golly, if you all have any A&A’s, I’d like to hear the answers, because we’ve got big challenges that we face together.
I am here as a delegation. And let me say this university itself, and this program, actually grew out of cooperation and collaborations that happened when our Governor at the time, back in the ’70s, Governor Harry Hughes, became the first United States Governor to visit China with an official delegation, after the normalization, the opening up of relations. And with him, no doubt, on that trip was probably a leading member of Johns Hopkins. And from those relationships grew this great university course of studies.
This is truly a unique institution. You all know that. You probably had to work very, very hard to get in into this program. But it has remained one of the only of this scale and ambition. And I really enjoyed the time and appreciate the time that Chancellor Hong gave to us to brief us about this university and the relationships, really, that you are creating here. I mean, Hopkins and Nanjing both have very high academic standards.
But I shared with the Chancellor my belief that probably the most important and lasting legacy of this university are the relationships that are being created between individuals of China and individuals of the United States.
We have a great minister at home, Reverend Frank Reid at Bethlehem AME church who says if it’s not about the relationship, it’s not about anything. And, indeed, our countries need to have a stronger relationship. And those relationships ultimately grow out of the relationships between individuals.
While we’ve been here, we’ve been trying to forge relationships that help us create jobs and expand opportunity. In our State, we pride ourselves on being number one or at the top of the list in many categories. U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that Maryland is one of the top two best states for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Kaufman New Economy Index ranks us among the top three states for being able to make this new economy ours. And the Milken Institute ranks our State one of the top two for science and technology.
So there’s been a bit of an emphasis during our first few days here on life science and biotech and cooperation. And Tasly, one of the larger firms here in this field of traditional Chinese medicine announced their intention to locate a headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, a $40 million investment initially.
During the course of our trip, I’ve been giving a whole lot of thought to the importance of making this world whole and bringing this world together.
We talked in the context of life science and biotech about the importance of bringing to Western medicine the prospectus of Eastern medicine, with its emphasis on wellness and nutrition and treating the whole person. That can be a very, very positive step forward for the health of people throughout the world, if we can bring the two hemispheres together.
What you’re doing at this university is a metaphor for that bringing together, that healing, that making whole. And as I thought about what I might say today, as we set the table really for Q&A, in a sense that’s what I’ve been trying to do as a public servant, is to bring together the two aspects of self governance that are so very important. And they are the importance of goals that drive us forward and the importance of an effective administration.
And if you don’t bring the two halves together, you really don’t make much progress, because goals without effective follow-up lead to nothing that any of us would agree is progress-making.
So I think we have a tremendous amount to learn from each other in this world. I know that I’m on a constant course of studies and my course of studies had to do with human nature. And I have been constantly impressed with just how innovative and industrious and creative people can be, if given the right platform, and the right leadership, really, to come together and address some really challenging problems.
When I was Mayor of the City of Baltimore, we had a big array of problems set out for us. We had lost more population than any other city in America over the prior 30 years. We had allowed ourselves to become one of most addicted and violent cities in America. And we needed to find a way forward. It required not only the setting of the goal to make ourselves a safer city, a healthier city, a cleaner city, but it also required effective administration.
And one of your co-directors, Mr. Davies, talked about the kudos that our administration in Baltimore received for what he called innovative technological initiatives. The innovative technological initiative that we brought to municipal governments in America was the remarkably bold and audacious idea of measuring performance. Actually measuring outcomes.
In our country, Government has traditionally gotten a free pass when it comes to measuring outputs. If we measure anything, it’s the measuring of inputs, right? The annual budget, how much will it cost, rather than what are you doing with the dollars that shows me, as a citizen, that you’re doing it any better now than you were two weeks ago.
So, the innovative solution that we were inspired by New York to implement in the City of Baltimore was to use GIS, Geographic Information Systems, to measure the performance of all departments. Not just the police department, as they had in New York, but all of the departments – so your trash collection, filling of potholes – and to make this information available on the internet so that any citizen could go on and see whether we’re doing any better than we were before. And we made some tremendous progress.
Baltimore is not a perfect place, but Baltimore reduced violent crime by a greater amount than almost any other major city over the last ten years, third only to Los Angeles and New York. We see the population loss that had been so chronic has leveled off and Baltimore is rebuilding herself again from the inside out and becoming a better place.
I’ve taken that same innovation to State Government. We call it StateStat and we’ve used the map, GIS [Geographic Information Systems], the importance of setting goals and the principals of timely, accurate information shared by all, rapid deployment of resources, effective tactics and relentless follow-up and we’ve applied that to State Government activities as well.
Ever since Governor Hughes’ time back in the ’70s… are there any Marylanders here among the students? We’ve got a couple Marylanders here. Okay. Well, you will remember the cause of Save The Bay. Governors in Maryland for 40 years have been trying to rally people to the important goal of saving the Bay.
In the past, we set 20-year goals. And human beings don’t generally work against 20-year goals, we work against two-week goals, we work against maybe one-month and one-year goals.
So we, for the very first time, instead of setting a 20-year goal on Bay clean-up, we’ve set a two-year goal, with milestones for reducing nitrogen, reducing phosphorous, reducing sediment, and taking action across about 31 different sets of activities from cover crops, to upgrading wastewater treatment plants. And we mapped it all with GIS over the ten river-sheds that flow into the Bay with easy dashboards, so that our citizens can see whether we’re doing any better as a people when it comes to cover crops. Whether we’re actually reducing the nitrogen and making the graph move in the right direction because of the big investments that we can only make together in things like infrastructure and upgrading our sewer systems and our wastewater treatment plants and the like. So, anyway, those are some of the things that we’re doing at the State level.
And as I conclude, and as we start to go to Q&A, I wanted to just share these final thoughts with you.
As I’ve traveled around over the last few days here in China – and this, by the way, is my very first trip to China, and I’m very, very impressed with the progress, the development, and the building. And I’m also very impressed with the high speed rail. Makes me even more adamant about going home and advocating for it in the United States of America. (Applause.)
Who would have thought I would have to travel all the way to Nanjing to get applause on
high speed rail? (Laughter.) It’s the way we’re living, isn’t it?
It is one of the great ironies of our time, I think, that some of the greatest global challenges that we face – you know, global pandemic, global climate change, and global resource scarcity – that all of those big scary globals, and there are many, many more, call upon us to come together to solve these problems, realizing that it’s in the diversity of cultures and the diversity of perspectives on these problems that is really going to be the key to our being able to figure them out. These are big, big challenges.
You know, one of my favorite movies is Apollo 13. Did you see Apollo 13 when they’re up there in that little spacecraft and they figure out that they’re kind of poisoning their own air, because the filters aren’t working and an engine is blown out and they’re out there and they had to figure out some way to turn the spaceship around and not suffocate on the way back? And they’re innovating and improvising and putting things together this way and the other way… and the voice of the chief engineer back on the ground, keeps telling the guys, “Work the problem, people. Work the problem, people.”
In a sense, we’re in a spacecraft of our own and we are hurtling through space. And because we are the first generation of human beings to ever look at the spaceship from outside, we have a unique perspective. A perspective of the whole that is better than any prior generations of human beings that have ever occupied this planet.
And yet, at the same time, we have greater challenges because we’re the first generation of human beings ever to see the population of the planet double in our own lifetimes. And we must “work the problem.”
The greatest challenges that we face, though, are also the very things that are creating the new opportunities in the fields of study, new endeavors, new buildings, new environmental design, as we try to make this switch in the emerging story of this planet that has been so stressed by the numbers and the exponential use that we have made of her resources – of land, of air, of water – in terms of the traditional choices in energy that we have used.
And it’s going to require something that is in the DNA of all human beings and that is innovation: The ability to manipulate the environment around us, with an acknowledgment of the forces that we face. And to be innovators in the science of sustainability, to be innovators in improving the security of our people, our connections of commerce and information, and also innovators in more quickly and effectively developing the skills of our people, because they are all needed.
And there’s one final thing I’ll leave with you, and that is that most important asset of all for any people, whether you talk about a city, whether you talk about a group of people as a family or as a nation, and that is a belief in the future: A belief that tomorrow can be better than today.
There are certain principles that I think are universal and I’ve been reading up on Confucian principles on the way over here. And, you know, virtue – the first two principles of Confucianism being to be human, to use one’s heart, to be kind to others. Essentially, it is that spirit of community, that belief in the dignity of every individual, that belief in our own responsibility to advance the greater good and that understanding that we’re all in this together, that we need each other and that God wants every partial victory.
Thanks very, very much. (Applause.)