Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, visited campus on February 16, 2022, to discuss the 2022 Beijing Olympics and its connection to the state of US-China business. Ms. Fiorina has several accomplishments, from being CEO, to her presidential run in 2016, to the creation of multiple philanthropic organizations tackling global poverty and female empowerment. Furthermore, Ms. Fiorina has a connection to Williamsburg; she was selected as the Chair of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s board of trustees in 2020. She has served on the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation since 2017. Ms. Fiorina stated that she was not here as a “China expert” but rather as someone who has “extensive and varied experience in China over many decades.” She has had numerous experiences interacting with Chinese business leaders throughout her professional career. "Given Carly Fiorina's extensive expertise in US-China business relations, gathered throughout her impressive 40-year entrepreneurial career, it was fascinating to hear her thoughtful insights regarding what is arguably the most important bilateral relationship today,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Government Sophia Hart.
Ms. Fiorina began her presentation by discussing how the Beijing Winter Olympics is a perfect example of the complexity and contradiction within China. Ms. Fiorina said that the Olympics demonstrate the “inconsistency” and “ineffectiveness” of US responses to China. For instance, viewers observed incredible accomplishments and pageantry throughout the Olympic events. At the same time, there were American athletes and brands present at the Olympics, but the US government was absent from Olympic events. Ms. Fiorina postulates that we as a nation need to think differently about navigating this relationship between the US and China.
Throughout the talk, Ms. Fiorina addressed three overarching themes regarding US-China business. First, she stated that the American business community was a “key driver” in integrating China into the US and world economies. She also notes that everything China has done in the past thirty years has been “quite predictable and quite consistent.” The Chinese have been transparent about their intentions – they are strategic, consistent, and persistent. Ms. Fiorina’s final theme was that the US needs to be less reactive when it comes to relations with China.
We are honored that Ms. Carly Fiorina joined us for this enlightening discussion, and we look forward to her upcoming visits. If you would like to listen to Ms. Fiorina’s presentation, the video can be found here through the Swem archives.