China's largest meat producer struck a multi-billion dollar takeover of the U.S. Smithfield Foods this week in a deal that was "inevitable," Jon Huntsman told msnbc on Friday.
"You have the second largest economy in the world-China-which over the next 10 years will get bigger and bigger," said Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China and Republican Utah governor. "We have a very innovative economy, and on a per-capita basis they'll never catch where we are but they'll continue to grow. As they grow they'll invest more outside of their own region."
China's largest meat producer agreed to a deal that would be the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese buyer. The producer, Shuanghui, plans to buy Smithfield Foods for $4.7 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
Huntsman became the U.S. ambassador to China two years before announcing he would run for president in 2012. Under the Obama administration, he had years of experience in East Asia as a diplomat, missionary, and businessman.
As the United States attempts to catch China on education levels, the East Asian country tries to crack the code on becoming a cutting-edge society, he said during the exclusive greenroom interview with Morning Joe's Louis Burgdorf.
"We have something that they want. It's called innovation and entrepreneurship," he said. "That carries with it the idea that you accept risk, and criticism, and failure-all things that are kind of counter-cultural."
The United States is simultaneously searching for ways to engage students in science, technology, math, and engineering as the country falls behind other global leaders in education. American 15-year old students rank No. 14 in reading, No. 17 in science, and No. 25 in math compared to the rest of the world's children, according to Forbes.
There are currently about 200,000 Chinese students in American schools, a figure that makes China the No. 1 country in terms of student population representation.
But there is a solution: technology.
"You've got to reach into your high schools and you've got to stimulate those kids coming up, introduce them to engineering, and math, and science in a way where they're perked up to the idea and they say, 'I think I could make a career in something I never thought about before,' " he said.
Forty years ago it seemed impossible for America to have a relationship with China. But it has since developed. As China moves from exports to consumption, the United States will export more, an opportunity for jobs and better standards of living.
"It really does mean that over time we're going to have to be very judicious and focused on managing both sides of the balance sheet," Huntsman said. "You have to manage your problems, but we also have to manage the opportunities."
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