Gov. Rick Snyder has traveled to China five times, just returning from another successful trip. His efforts have provided dividends by creating jobs and investment in “Pure Michigan.”
Michigan and America must learn to ride the China wave or surely we will be swamped. We must seek ways to tap the China gold mountain to fund large-scale infrastructure projects such as rebuilding cities, mass transit, road and bridge repair through lowering long-term building and borrowing costs through Chinese investment. It is happening today around and nation and world.
Clearly we are living in uncertain times with tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fears of a nuclear Iran, jittery global economics, and GM talking about importing Chinese-built Buicks, the car for “Chinese Emperors” from China.
Michigan is two beautiful peninsulas — we are not an island. Gov. Snyder has made the Chinese wave benefit Michigan. He will continue to build the “win-win” relationships with China that grow jobs. Unlike what is taking place in the national stage, he is not interested in using China for division and subtraction — but for addition and multiplication of jobs and investment opportunities.
Gov. Snyder is seeking foreign direct investment for Michigan and wants to export agricultural products, technology know-how, and other goods and services around the globe. He understands that Michigan, fresh off a recession, with its major city having recently emerged from bankruptcy, needs to compete in the hyper-competitive, global, technolocialy-drive, knowledge economy where ideas and jobs can and do move across the world effortlessly.
Gov. Snyder is also wisely pushing Michigan as a tourism destination as the Chinese have an expanding middle class seeking new adventures. “Chinese travelers are now going all over the world and the United States, and this is a great opportunity to tell people about Pure Michigan tourism.”
Gov. Snyder grasps doing business with China is not the equivalent of a one-night stand — it takes time to develop the “guanxi”/relationships necessary to seal deals.
China is increasingly investing its massive wealth directly into global companies, factories, real estate and other economic development projects that are creating jobs in America and a return on investment for the Chinese.
China is currently the United States’ second-largest trading partner, its third-largest export market, and its biggest source of imports.
Gov. Snyder has been aggressively marketing Michigan as both immigrant- and business-friendly and has been equally aggressive in courting Chinese investment.
Chinese foreign direct investment in Michigan hit the $1 billion mark in 2012. Michigan ranks ninth in the U.S. for direct investment from China. To date, 95 percent of Chinese investment is automotive related. The investment potential in real estate, residential, industrial and commercial with low pricing and equally low interest rates makes Detroit and the entire state an investment rich environment.
Michigan and Detroit need to be a magnet seeking Chinese investment. Besides the potential upside of a financial return on their investment, the EB-5 visa program allows their investment to also net them and their families green cards or the ability to immigrate to the U.S.
Michigan has much of what a rising Chinese middle and investment class wants and needs. Michigan and Detroit offer tremendous opportunity for Chinese auto companies seeking foreign investments and global expansion into the U.S. At least 100 Chinese companies have established a significant presence in Michigan.
It has been good domestic politics to rhetorically beat up on China to score points with beleaguered Michigan workers, but it does nothing to build job-producing relationships with the fastest-growing large economy on the planet.
Anti-Chinese rhetoric not only fails to create a single Michigan job, it makes the task that much harder by perpetuating anti-China and anti-Asian sentiment. The Chinese market, with 1.3 billion people and a rising middle class, is the mother lode of 21st-Century global commerce. More than 400 million Chinese people have risen out of poverty in the last quarter century.
Investment goes where it is welcome and stays where it is nurtured. Michigan is creating an environment for foreign capital to breed and grow. Michigan has embraced a global view, and is tapping into the hundreds of billions of dollars that the Chinese hold in trade imbalance and is helping to tilt the world in our direction to have some of that cash return to our state through investment and trade.
By building bridges, rather than digging moats, between the Great Wall of China and the Great Lake State of Michigan, will benefit both peoples.
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