We are connecting entrepreneurs with Diaspora communities in the United States that are eager to help fund new projects in countries where they have family ties. And we are looking to the private sector to help us. There are so many ways that we are grateful to the private sector. After all, it drives what we are talking about today. But we do need to try to consider, even within the constraints of modern financial practices and expectations, not just short-term benefits but long-term consequences. The work that each of you do in your businesses can help lift people’s lives, promote human rights and dignity, and create new markets, creating a virtuous cycle. Or it can further ensnare people in poverty and environmental degradations, creating a vicious cycle.
So that’s our agenda, and you can see why I’ve come to Hong Kong to talk about it, because here, we have a perfect example of what can be done and how important it is to lead in the economic realm with the kind of principles that Hong Kong has developed on. Now, we know very well that the future is arriving at a breathtaking pace, and the choices we make today will define what is possible economically for so many millions of people.
And so while the specifics are forever changing, many of the ideals that guided us in the 20th century are the same ones we need to embrace in the 21st — a belief that a good idea is a good idea no matter where it comes from or from whom, a willingness to embrace change, a culture driven by marriage, faith in the notion that a rising tide of economic growth and innovation can improve everyone’s quality of life whether they live in Hong Kong or Appalachia. It is up to us to translate those enduring principles into common practice, shared prosperity, the opportunity for as many people as possible on both sides of the Pacific to live up to their God-given potential.
And what is standing in the way of achieving that vision? Well, there are many issues and challenges we can enumerate, but ultimately, it comes down to leadership — leadership in both the public and the private sector. We were blessed over the last part of the 20th century with farsighted and effective leaders in many parts of the world, leaders who set the rules that created the economic growth that we enjoyed in the 20th century, leaders who changed course in their own nations and catalyzed the extraordinary growth that we have seen in a country like China, leaders who had visions, private sector leaders who were able to look over the horizon and understand the consequences of not just this quarter’s results but the decades. We need that leadership again. We need it everywhere. And we need it both in governments and in business. That’s why the partnership between the public and private sectors is so essential.