What Hank Greenberg — and History — Can Teach Us About China
In the insurance business, we speak frequently of the importance of long-term relationships. With a longer history of beneficial personal and financial investment, there is a greater likelihood that both parties will treat each other with respect.
Bumps in the road that appear sizable in the short-term take on a different quality when viewed over time. Could this dynamic be any more true of the relationship between Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr, and China, now the second largest economy in the world?
Insurance, its relationships, its leaders, perhaps even Mr. Greenberg, may yet play a role in providing stability for future growth, and perhaps most importantly, peace.
Lost perhaps in the headlines reporting on President Donald Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods was a masterful opinion piece that Mr. Greenberg wrote (published August 29), giving his views on this country’s history with China and what needs to happen for relations between the two countries to improve.
Mr. Greenberg, who first stepped onto Chinese soil as an insurance executive in 1975, reminded readers, including Chinese readers, that American blood was spilled in the early days of World War II, as America’s Flying Tigers came to the defense of China in the face of Japanese aggression.
Mr. Greenberg also recounted his own efforts as the person who educated Chinese insurance professionals on the value of an agency system, producing some 1 million jobs in that country. He also worked 20 years, when he was with AIG, to win a license to operate a life insurance company in China — to date the only foreign licensed insurance company to achieve that status.
The tariff war unfolding now is unsettling. But insurance, its relationships, its leaders, perhaps even Mr. Greenberg, may yet play a role in providing stability for future growth, and perhaps most importantly, peace.