By Julia Hurst
The economies of the United States and China are intrinsically linked, China Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Liu Jieyi told five lieutenant governors during a National Lieutenant Governors Association economic development and humanitarian mission to China in October.
Jieyi said China has supported the United States through its economic downturn, in part, by issuing statements of support and optimism.
On Oct. 5, 2008, the China World Bank wrote, “As China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has pointed out, in the face of the current crisis, first of all, countries should strengthen cooperation, and affected countries should actively take necessary measures, since only together can we effectively deal with the crisis; second, confidence is particularly important at a time of both financial and economic crisis; and third, for China to maintain strong, stable and rapid economic growth, without big ups or downs, is its greatest contribution to the world economy.”
On Oct. 20, 2008, however, the National Statistics Bureau of China revealed the Chinese economy expanded by just 9 percent in the third quarter, the slowest rate since 2003, when growth decreased during the SARS outbreak. The Associated Press opined on Oct. 22, 2008, that China is seeing the global demand for its exports decline as consumers in the U.S. and Europe cut back on spending in the wake of the mortgage crisis. The AP said the shift may be a serious challenge for China as it struggles to keep job-creating growth on an even keel.
Trade is one thing that links the two economies. As such, trade and trade imbalances are a frequent topic of conversation between leaders of the United States and China.
Mark Douglas, vice president of Rohm & Haas, a specialty material company based in Pennsylvania with facilities in China, explained his company’s presence in China.
“We are not in China due to cheap labor, but rather because we were pulled here. This is where our customers are,” said Douglas. In 2007, China became the United States’ third largest export market.
Connecticut’s exports to China increased by more than 52 percent in 2007, making China the state’s seventh largest trading partner. Connecticut Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele said export products included plastic, fertilizer, aircraft, spacecraft and related parts.
“The business opportunities I saw in every region I visited in China were numerous—economic development zones are in all stages of creation and present great opportunities for Connecticut to continue to strengthen our trading relationship,” he said.
Fedele wasn’t alone in seeing the opportunities for states.
“The mission was a terrific opportunity to promote our individual states to key officials of the most significant emerging market in the world,” said Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson.
At Tsinghua University, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton Lawton, NLGA chair, reached an agreement for an exploratory commission between the University of Wisconsin and Tsinghua University to create a Global Manufacturing Institute. The goal is to advance manufacturing research by coordinating international research and education projects involving sustainable manufacturing, digital manufacturing management, engineering and business management.
“The Institute is designed to promote collaboration in research that will lead to innovation in our manufacturing sector and growth in advanced manufacturing jobs,” said Lawton.
—Julia Hurst is the executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association, a CSG affiliate.