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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Meeting with World Leaders at the United Nations

Aired September 28, 2008 - 13:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE: Welcome to GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
It's U.N. week in New York, the annual opening of the General Assembly. I had the chance to speak with several heads of state, among them Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and we'll show you that interview.

But first, I also had the rare opportunity to meet with one of the most powerful men on earth, Wen Jiabao, the prime minister of China. I met with him in his suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

He hasn't given a television interview in five years. In fact, he has rarely spoken to American journalists. It was an extraordinary opportunity to speak with him at this crucial moment in history.

China's rise to power is probably the single most important trend of our lifetime. It's changing the world. Yet we know so little about the country and the men who rule it. They control this vast land of 1.3 billion people, but they also have enormous influence over your life.

The Chinese are by far the largest holders of American debt, for example. They buy billions of dollars' worth of American Treasury bills every week.

What if they were to lose faith in America?

The first thing you should know about Wen Jiabao is that he is quite different from other Chinese leaders of the modern era. In China, his people have a nickname for him - Grandpa Wen.

After this year's disastrous earthquake in Sichuan, he flew immediately to the devastated area, went out among the people to comfort them and met with many individually. He's more like an American politician than a Chinese apparatchik.

He is also, of course, an agile politician inside the labyrinthine ranks of his own party. A geologist by training, he manages to push reform through without alienating this conservative opponents.

There were some conditions to my interview with Premier Wen. My condition was that I be allowed to ask any questions I wished, which the Chinese accepted. One of theirs was that I not comment on or characterize the substance of the interview. So I won't - except to say that I thought it was the most open and frank conversation I had ever seen or read with a Chinese leader.


WEN JIABAO, PREMIER OF CHINA (voice of interpreter): Before we begin, I'd like to let you know that I will use the words from the bottom of my heart to answer your question, which means that I will tell the truth to all your questions.

ZAKARIA: I look forward to the chance for this dialogue. And I begin by thanking you for giving us the opportunity and the honor.

The first thing I have to ask you I think is on many people's minds. What do you think of the current financial crisis affecting the United States? And does it make you think that the American model has many flaws in it that we are just recognizing now?

WEN (voice of interpreter): The crisis that occurred in the United States may have an impact that will affect the whole world.

Nonetheless, in face of such a crisis, we must also be aware that today's world is different from the world that people lived in back in the 1930s.

So this time, we should join hands and meet the crisis together. If the financial and economic systems in the United States go wrong, then the impact will be felt not only in this country, but also in China, in Asia and in the world at large.

I have noted the host of policies and measures adopted by the U.S. government to prevent an isolated crisis from becoming a systematic one. And I hope that measures and steps that they have adopted will pay off.

ZAKARIA: Do you think you can continue to grow, if the United States goes into a major recession?

WEN (voice of interpreter): A possible U.S. economic recession will certainly have an impact on the Chinese economy, because we know that 10 years ago the China-U.S. trade volume stood at only US$102.6 billion, while today, the figure soared to US$302 billion - actually representing an increase of 1.5-fold. A shrinking of U.S. demand will certainly have an impact on China's export.

And U.S. finance is closely connected with the Chinese finance. If anything goes wrong in the U.S. financial sector, we are anxious about the safety and security of Chinese capital.

That's why at the very beginning, I have made it clear that financial problems in this country not only concerns the interest of the United States, but also that of China and the world at large.

ZAKARIA: There is another sense in which we are interdependent. China is the largest holder of U.S. Treasury bills. By some accounts, you hold almost $1 trillion of it. It makes Americans - some Americans - uneasy. Can you reassure them that China would never use this status as a weapon in some form?

WEN (voice of interpreter): As I said, we believe that the U.S. real economy is still solidly based, particularly in the high-tech industries and the basic industries.

Now, something has gone wrong in the virtual economy. But if this problem is properly addressed, then it is still possible to stabilize the economy in this country.

The Chinese government hopes very much that the U.S. side will be able to stabilize its economy and finance as quickly as possible. And we also hope to see sustained development in the United States, as that will benefit China.

Of course, we are concerned about the safety and security of Chinese money here. But we believe that the United States is a credible country, and particularly at such difficult times, China has reached out to the United States.

And actually, we believe such a helping hand will help stabilize the entire global economy and finance, and to prevent major chaos from occurring in the global economic and financial system. I believe now, cooperation is everything.

ZAKARIA: Premier, when your country has grown, as you pointed out, 9.5 percent for 30 years - the fastest growth rate of any country in history - if people come to you and say to you, what is the Chinese model of succeeding as a developing country, what would you say the - what is the key to your success? What is the model?

WEN (voice of interpreter): By introducing reform and opening up, we have greatly emancipated productivity in China.

We have one important thought, that socialism can also practice market economy.

ZAKARIA: People think that's a contradiction. You have the market economy where the market allocates resources. In socialism it's all central planning.

How do you make both work?

WEN (voice of interpreter): The complete formulation of our economic policy is to give full play to the basic role of market forces in allocating resources under the macroeconomic guidance and regulation of the government.

We have one important piece of experience of the past 30 years, that is to ensure that both the visible hand and invisible hand are given pull play in regulating the market forces.

If you are familiar with the classical works of Adam Smith, you know that there are two famous works of his. One is "The Wealth of Nations." The other is the book on the morality and ethics. And "The Wealth of Nations" deals more with the invisible hand, that is, there are the market forces. And the other book deals with social equity and justice. And in the other book he wrote, he stressed the importance of playing the regulatory role of the government to fairly distribute the wealth among the people.

If in a country most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, then this country can hardly witness harmony and stability.

The same approach also applies to the current U.S. economy. To address the current economic and financial problems in this country, we need to apply not only the visible hand, but also the invisible hand.


ZAKARIA: Coming up, Premier Wen Jiabao on Iran and North Korea.


ZAKARIA: China's onward rise has taken many forms - economic, cultural and political. Naturally, it has had an increasingly active foreign policy - so far, somewhat narrowly focused on securing China's interests. I spoke to Premier Wen about China's larger world role.


ZAKARIA: Many people see China as a superpower already. And they wonder, why is it not being more active in political resolution of issues such as the issue of Darfur, or the issue of Iran and its nuclear ambitions.

There's a hope that China will play a role as a responsible stakeholder - to use Robert Zoellick's phrase when he was deputy secretary of state - and that China will be more active in managing the political problems in the world, and that so far, it has not been active.

How would you react to that?

WEN (voice of interpreter): To answer this question, I need to correct some of the elements in your question. First, China is not a superpower.

Although China has a population of 1.3 billion, and although in recent years China has registered fairly fast economic and social development since reform and opening up, China still has this problem of unbalanced development between different regions and between China's urban and rural areas. China remains a developing country.

We still have 800 million farmers in rural areas, and we still dozens of million people living in poverty. To address our own problems, we need to do a great deal. China is not a superpower.

That's why we need to focus on our own development and on our efforts to improve people's lives.

ZAKARIA: But surely, the Chinese government could pressure the Sudanese government, or the Iranian government, or the government in Burma to ease - to be less repressive. You have relations with all three of them.

WEN (voice of interpreter): That brings me to your second question. Actually, in the international community, China is a justice-upholding country. We never trade our principles.

Take the Darfur issue that you raised just now, for example. China has always advocated that we need to adopt a dual-track approach to seek a solution to the Darfur issue.

China was among the first countries that sent - sending peacekeepers to Darfur. China was also the first country that gave assistance to Sudan. And we also keep our efforts to engage the leaders in Sudan, to try to seek a peaceful solution to the issue as quickly as possible.

ZAKARIA: Do you think it would be dangerous for the world if Iran got nuclear weapons? And what do you think the world should do to try to stop that possibility?

WEN (voice of interpreter): We are not supportive of a nuclearized Iran. We believe that Iran has the right to develop the utilization of nuclear energy in a peaceful way. But such efforts should be subject to the safeguards of the IAEA, and Iran should not develop nuclear weapons. As far as the Iranian nuclear issue is concerned, China's stand is clear-cut.

Nevertheless, we hope that we can use peaceful talks to achieve the purpose, rather than resort to the willful use of force or the intimidation of force.

It's like treating the relationship between two individuals. If one individual tries to corner the other, then the effect will be counterproductive. That will do nothing in helping resolve the problem. Our purpose is to resolve the problem, not to escalate tensions.

And I also have a question for you. Don't you think that the efforts made by China in resolving the Korean nuclear issue and the position we have adopted in this regard have actually helped the situation on the Korean Peninsula move for the better, day by day?

And of course, I know that it still takes time to see a thorough and a complete solution to the Korean nuclear issue and, on that basis, to help put in place security and stability in Northeast Asia. But what I would like to stress is that the model that we have adopted, and the efforts we have made, proved to be right in this direction.

ZAKARIA: Since you honored me by asking the question, I will say to you, Premier, that China's efforts in North Korea have been appreciated in the United States and around the world. And, of course, it makes people wish that China would be active in other areas in just the same productive way that it was in North Korea, because we see that it produces results.

WEN (voice of interpreter): We have gained a lot of experience and learned lessons from years of negotiations concerning the Six- Party Talks. And the progress made in the Six-Party Talks also has a lot to do with the close cooperation among the six parties.


ZAKARIA: Up next, Premier Wen Jiabao addresses tough issues - the Dalai Lama and Tiananmen Square.


ZAKARIA: In my conversation with Wen Jiabao, China's premier, one of the most complex and controversial subjects was the discussion of democracy.

Wen has deep experience with the issue. In 1989, he was one of the Communist Party officials who went to Tiananmen Square to talk to the protestors.

I asked him whether that experience had made him want to slow down or stop political reform. Listen to what he had to say.


ZAKARIA: I will take advantage of your kindness and ask a question that many people around the world wonder about.

There is a very famous photograph of you at Tiananmen Square in 1989. What lesson did you take from your experiences in dealing with that problem in 1989?

WEN (voice of interpreter): I believe that, while moving ahead with the economic reforms, we also need to advance political reforms. As our development is comprehensive in nature, our reform should also be comprehensive.

I think the core of your question is about the development of democracy in China. I believe, when it comes to the development of democracy in China, we talk about progress to be made in three areas.

Number one, we need to gradually improve the democratic election system, so that state power will truly belong to the people, and state power will be used to serve the people.

Number two, we need to improve the legal system, run the country according to law and establish the country under the rule of law. And we need to build an independent and just judicial system.

Number three, government should be subject to oversight by the people, and if (ph) you ask us, call on us to increase transparency in government affairs. And particularly, it is also necessary for government to accept oversight by the news media and other parties. ZAKARIA: When I go to China and I'm in the hotel, and if I type in the words "Tiananmen Square" in my computer, I get a firewall, what some people call "the Great Firewall of China."

Can you be an advanced society, if you don't have freedom of information, to find out information on the Internet?

WEN (voice of interpreter): China now has over 200 million Internet users. And the freedom of Internet in China is recognized by many, even from the West.

Nonetheless, to uphold state security, China, like many countries in the world, has also imposed some proper restrictions. And that is for the safety - that is for the overall safety of the country and for the freedom of the majority of the people.

I can also tell you, on the Internet in China, you can have access to a lot of postings that are quite critical about the government. I frequently browse the Internet.

ZAKARIA: What are your favorite sites?

WEN (voice of interpreter): I browsed a lot of Internet web sites.

ZAKARIA: May I ask you about another set of possible talks? The Dalai Lama has said, now, it appears that he would accept China's rule in Tibet. He accepts the socialist system in Tibet. And what he asks for is cultural autonomy and a certain degree of political autonomy.

The talks apparently are stuck at a lower level between the Tibetans and the Chinese government. Why don't you, given your power and your negotiating skills, take the issue yourself, and you or President Hu Jintao were to negotiate directly with the Dalai Lama and solve this issue once and for all, for the benefit of the Chinese people and, of course, the Tibetan people who are also in China?

WEN (voice of interpreter): In many places all over the world, the Dalai Lama keeps preaching about the idea of the so-called autonomy in the greater Tibetan region. And actually, the so-called autonomy that he pursues is actually to use religion to intervene in politics. And they want to separate the so-called "greater Tibetan region" from the motherland.

And many people in the United States have no idea how big is the so-called "greater Tibetan region." The so-called "greater Tibetan region," preached by the Dalai Lama, actually covers Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu - altogether, five provinces. And the area covered by this so-called "greater Tibetan region" accounts for a quarter of China's territory.

For decades, our policy towards the Dalai Lama remains unchanged. That is, as long as the Dalai Lama is willing to recognize that Tibet is an inalienable part of China's territory, and as long as the Dalai Lama gives up his separatist activities, we are willing to have contact and talks with him or his representatives. Now, sincerity holds the key to producing results out of the talks.

ZAKARIA: What action would you like to see from the Dalai Lama that would show sincerity?

WEN (voice of interpreter): Actually, I already made it clear that, when we observe any individual, the Dalai Lama included, we should not only watch what - we should not only observe what he says, but also watch what he does.

His sincerity can be demonstrated in giving up separatist activities. But then, everything depends on the development of the situation.


ZAKARIA: In a moment, some philosophy from Wen Jiabao.


ZAKARIA: China's premier, Wen Jiabao, is a reading man a poet, and I asked him about something he was reading.


ZAKARIA: You have said that you have read the works of Marcus Aurelius 100 times. Marcus Aurelius is a famous Stoic philosopher.

My reading of him says that one should not be involved in the self and in any kind of pursuits that are self-interested, but should be more for the community as a whole.

When I go to China these days, I'm struck by how much individualism there is, how much consumerism there is. Are you trying to send a signal to the Chinese people to think less about themselves and more about the community?

WEN (voice of interpreter): It is true. I did read the "Meditations" written by Marcus Aurelius Antonio many occasions. And I was very deeply impressed by the words that he wrote in the book to the effect that, where are those people who were great for a time? They are all gone, living only a story, or some even just half a story.

So, I draw the conclusion that only people are in the position to create history and to write history.

I very much value morality. And I do believe that entrepreneurs, economists and statesmen alike should pay much more attention to morality and ethics.

In my mind, the highest standard to measure the ethics and morality is justice.

It is true, in the course of China's economic development, some companies have actually pursued their profits at the expense of morality. And we will never allow such things to happen.

We will not allow economic growth at the expense of the loss of morality, because such an approach simply cannot be sustained. That's why we advocate corporate, occupational and social ethics.

ZAKARIA: You've talked about elections many times. Do you think in 25 years there will be national elections in which there will be a competition, there will be perhaps two parties running for the positions such as your own?

WEN (voice of interpreter): It's hard for me to predict what will happen in 25 years' time.

This being said, I have this conviction that China's democracy will continue to grow.

In 20 to 30 years' time, the whole Chinese society will be more democratic and fairer, and the legal system in China will further be improved. Socialism, as we see it, will further mature and improve.

ZAKARIA: On that happy note, I thank you, Your Excellency. I'm sure your people are worried that we've taken a little bit extra time. And I thank you in advance for your kindness and your frankness.


ZAKARIA: I'll be right back with our conversation with the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.


ZAKARIA: Six years ago, U.S. forces went into Afghanistan and defeated the Taliban - almost. Today, the Taliban is once again a powerful fighting force.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai believes that they can once again be pushed back. I sat down with him between U.N. meetings to talk about the challenges he's facing.


ZAKARIA: President Karzai, a pleasure to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: Thank you. Good to be with you.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, to begin with, one of the things that both presidential candidates here are advocating is that there be a surge of troops in Afghanistan.

Do you support that? Do you think that additional American troops will serve a useful purpose?

KARZAI: Well, I would say that we are grateful that there is strong attention to Afghanistan, that both candidates and the current administration are concerned about Afghanistan and the worsening security situation.

On the ways to address it, of course, an increase in the troops of the international community in Afghanistan to focus on the war against terrorism is important.

But in the long term, and for the international community to be able to free itself of the burden of Afghanistan, the only way forward is an increase in the Afghan troops, an increase in the police and better trained Afghan security forces and administration.

ZAKARIA: One of the reasons the surge worked was that General Petraeus won over the Sunni militias, who were fighting against the U.S. Army. And some people would say bought, some people would won over.

Do you think that strategy is possible in Afghanistan? Are there Taliban elements, Pashtuns who support the Taliban, who could be won over?

KARZAI: Well, Afghanistan is an extremely community-based society, community-based country. And the tribes make the crux of the matter in Afghanistan. They have been the strength of the country for centuries.

And we won initially in 2001, because of the backing of the tribes and their interest (ph) and their influences to the war against terrorism.

That was neglected, unfortunately, for a long time, in spite of us urging and asking for.

To focus on the Afghan people, to focus on reengaging the communities is the best answer to the insecurity in Afghanistan and to the eventual defeat of terrorism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, in particular on the two sides of the Durand Line, where the Pashtun populations are.

ZAKARIA: But that means cutting deals with some people who have been fighting against the Afghan government after ...

KARZAI: Those are the Taliban.

ZAKARIA: ... against the ...

KARZAI: Those are the Taliban, yes. Those who want to come on board, those who want to join the peace process, they are welcome.

Those who are part of al Qaeda and ideologically are against us, that's a different thing. They will never come.

ZAKARIA: So, you think you can split the Taliban, in a sense, between the hardcore elements and those that might be willing to join the peace process?

KARZAI: I would spread (ph) them exactly that way. ZAKARIA: In the past when we've talked, you have been very frustrated by the problems on the Pakistani side of the border, the fact that many of the al Qaeda elements, Taliban elements that were the most violent, seem to be being supported or in some way finding succor on the Pakistani side of the border.

Do you believe that this problem has gotten worse over the last year or two, or has it gotten better?

KARZAI: Well, my friend, Mr. Zakaria, I have been talking of a fact. I have not been criticizing. I know that Afghanistan cannot live without Pakistan or without peace and fraternity and good relations with Pakistan.

My clarity of words, my explicit language has not been to criticize, but to point to a problem that now we know, as we see things, I was right. Because unless we handle the problem of sanctuaries, wherever those sanctuaries may be, if they are found in Afghanistan, we must do it in Afghanistan. If they are found in Pakistan, we must do it there.

And there were, unfortunately, in Pakistan those sanctuaries. And the consequences of that are terrible for the Pakistani people as well, in Islamabad just over the weekend, and the hundreds of people that they are killing every day.

So, I hope that, now there is the new democratic government in Pakistan with President Zardari, who sees things the way we see it, or with the prime minister, we'll be able, together with Afghanistan and the rest of the world, the United States, to handle this situation.

ZAKARIA: You think that the Zardari government of Pakistan will be more active in fighting the problem of the Taliban in Pakistan?

KARZAI: I believe they will be more active. I have seen that in them, and because they have suffered like we have suffered. He has personally suffered. Prime Minister Gillani has suffered. The PDP (ph) has suffered. The Pakistani people have suffered.

ZAKARIA: People who look at Afghanistan think that it is spiraling downward. People who study it say that corruption is getting worse, the Kabul government has not been able to extend its writ much beyond the city limits, that there is warlordism, there is enormous opium cultivation.

The picture is one of almost a failed state. How do you respond?

KARZAI: I see that a lot in the Western media. Yes. I see that.

ZAKARIA: And your reaction?

KARZAI: I see that a lot.

ZAKARIA: And your reaction?

KARZAI: Part of it is true. Part of it is not true.

The way forward is clear, and success (ph) is there.

Now, when we began in 2001, Afghanistan was not only a failed state, Afghanistan was a destroyed state. A failed state is where the institutions fail. Afghanistan not only had no institutions - they had completely gone away - but Afghanistan was physically destroyed. Afghanistan was reduced to almost, to the Middle Ages.

We began to rebuild roads, schools, clinics, hospitals, political institutions, the constitution, the elections. All of that worked very, very well.

Afghanistan had $180 million in its reserves in 2002 when I took over. Afghanistan today has over $3 billion in reserves. Afghanistan's income per capita in 2002 was $180. Today, it's over $355.

Afghanistan's road network was nil. It had gone completely. Today, we have over 3,000 kilometers of highways linking the country. It's almost complete.

Health services - from nine percent, we are now to 85 percent. Child mortality in Afghanistan was the worst in the world. Today, we can save at least 85,000 children and infants annually. A lot of progress, millions to school.

ZAKARIA: But in 2002, it seemed as though the Taliban had been largely destroyed. And in 2008, it seems to have largely reconstituted itself and is running large parts of Afghanistan.

KARZAI: Very important. I will come to that. That's the most important question, as well.

Yes, corruption is there. It's a government that is not able in terms of abilities, institutional ability, to deliver services like you would have in India or in Pakistan or in Iran. It's a government that's beginning to rebuild itself from scratch.

The combination of factors contributing to the difficulties in Afghanistan are great, many. But we are on the right track. Everything is moving all right in Afghanistan - but the question of security.

And the question of security and the war against terrorism is not doing all right, as we expected, as we demand, as we should have, because we did not - by "we" I mean both the international community, and more so the international community - on the sanctuaries that produced, supported, equipped and financed terrorists.

And unless and until we have done that, we will continue to suffer, and this war will not see an end sooner, and the cost will be greater.

ZAKARIA: So, the key then is in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan. KARZAI: The key is in a way there, yes - with one good note, that with the current democratic government we have the possibilities now of working together.

ZAKARIA: Do you believe still that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan and not Afghanistan?

KARZAI: He never was in Afghanistan after September 11. I don't believe it for a minute that he was in Afghanistan.

ZAKARIA: So, he's always been somewhere in the tribal areas in Pakistan.

KARZAI: I don't know where he was, really. I don't know if he was in the tribal areas of Pakistan or somewhere else.

ZAKARIA: Such as Quetta.

KARZAI: We kept hearing about that.

Now, I'm very careful in mentioning places or in being specific about it, because it's something that I don't know much about. Our intelligence has not been able to provide us specific information on his whereabouts.

ZAKARIA: But you gave President Musharraf a list of phone numbers of Taliban leaders in Quetta. And you said ...

KARZAI: Yes, Taliban ...

ZAKARIA: ... if you call these numbers, you will find them.

KARZAI: Yes. We did that. The Taliban leaders we know, some of them are in Quetta, no doubt. Yes, that is true.

ZAKARIA: And he claimed that those numbers were all dysfunctional and didn't work.

KARZAI: That they were old three months.

ZAKARIA: What do you make of that?

KARZAI: That meant that they were there three months before we gave the numbers. So, they are still there.

And let me - let me say it once again. This is not an accusation. This is a matter of a fact. And it is causing a lot of suffering to the Pakistanis as well.

And now, as I mentioned earlier, we have a greater, greater hope in the current government.

ZAKARIA: But do you think that the Pakistani army is fully committed to this fight against the Taliban? Is the ISI fully committed to the fight?

KARZAI: Well, they have to be. They should be - for the good of their own country, for the good of their own people.

ZAKARIA: But is your intelligence that they are?

KARZAI: I hope they are. I hope they become. I hope very much ...

ZAKARIA: Which implies they are not - they perhaps are not quite there yet.

KARZAI: I have to see a lot there to speak with confidence. But I can wish something. And that wish is that we all work together to rid our countries of this menace.

In other words, there is no way that we can use radicalism to promote any cause, any interest. It is bound to come back and haunt us.

ZAKARIA: There's an election next year. Are you going to run?

KARZAI: I was asked this question earlier in the Asian Society. And I was asked this question in a couple of events - a very good question - and I repeated that great poem of Robert Frost.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."

Now, what do you think?

ZAKARIA: I think you're going to run again.

KARZAI: I have a task to complete, yes.


ZAKARIA: We'll be right back.


ZAKARIA: This week we found an extremely relevant bit of history. Fifty-nine years ago this week Mao Zedong stood in front of Tiananmen Square and declared the founding of the People's Republic of China. He instituted a government that would rule China along the principles of Marxism-Leninism.

China has come a long way, and today it would be more appropriate to call China's system "market Leninism," a phrase coined by "New York Times" columnist, Nicholas Kristof.

So, in our conversation, China's premier cited with ease Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations." It is, by the way, a great book.

And it made me think that perhaps it would be a good idea to suggest a book that is worth reading, every week on this program. Let's start with Wen Jiabao's real favorite, the "Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor in the second century A.D.

Aurelius' "Meditations" define what is often called a Stoic view on life. It really is worth reading to get a glimpse of a world totally removed from the consumerism and instant gratification of modern-day America - and China, as well.

To desire anything, Aurelius wrote, is to be permanently disappointed, since what we desire is empty, corrupt and paltry. Death is to be welcomed, because it marks an end to desire.

So, have a nice day.

OK. Our question of the week. We're talking to Bill Gates next week. What one question would you ask him?

You can e-mail me at You can also visit our Web site,, for highlights from this program. And you can always find our weekly podcast on the Web site and on iTunes.

That's it. Thanks, and see you next week.