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Two Trade Missions to Asia. One Governor Nabs $85 Million in...

Two neighboring state governors - Democrat Martin O'Malley of Maryland and Republican Bob McDonnell of Virginia - go to Asia on trade missions, seeking foreign direct investment in their states. I'll give you one guess which governor came back with "$85 million in immediate foreign direct investment" to his state, and which governor came back with...no foreign direct investment at all. Need another hint? Try this photo from one of the governor's Facebook pages.

That's right, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) of Maryland went to Asia, and reported back: "I'm pleased to announce that our economic development mission to Asia has already resulted in $85 million in immediate foreign direct investment into Maryland!"  Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) of Virginia went to Asia and reported back on a "new marketing office in Shanghai," plus "an historic cultural exchange agreement," plus...uhhhh. Well, there's this: "agricultural exports including soybeans and chicken...[m]ore specific details will be announced in the upcoming weeks and months." Wow.

As Rebecca Jaramillo notes (major h/t to her on this story!), "It's wonderful that McD sold our chickens and agricultural good (which of course means that it is good we didn't pass those anti-immigration laws and end up like GA -- without our workers), but that isn't the same as 'direct investment.'" Bottom line: the Democratic governor brought back serious foreign direct investment to his state; the Republican governor brought back...a cultural exchange, some chickens and hog sales, and something or other to be named later. Surprise, surprise.

McAuliffe Calls for a 21st Century Economy

Trade can be a good thing. Governor McDonnell has a plan where China trades goods China produces in China for goods China produces in Virginia. Apparently Virginia's role is to feed the industrialists with Virginia's agricultural abundance. Terry McAuliffe would rather present his children the opportunities of a diversified economy.

Aside from commodities, McDonnell said he's also looking for "a dramatic increase in direct foreign investment in Virginia." - Richmond Times Dispatch

McAuliffe spoke last week at the York Poquoson Democratic Banquet, telling the spirited gathering that Virginia needs to compete with other states for investment. The state has not been in the running for opportunities that have presented themselves. That should also encourage proprietorship over the means of production so that the return can be reinvested in Virginia and not overseas; unlike the outcome of McDonnell's scheme.

I went to China and bought one of their big electric car companies and moved a manufacturing company from China to the United States of America. -Terry McAuliffe

Instead, Governor McDonnell has wasted time on a dog and pony show that could have been spent planning for an investment in the future: education and transportation would be a good start. Apparently for his own children the future is vested in the economy of a 17th century agricultural colony and includes drawing a pension from a foreign entity that has wrung all the profits out of doing both sides of business in Virginia.

McDonnell Trade Charade: China 1 – Virginia NONE

Governor McDonnell's biggest announcement thus far on his journey through Asia is that he has created a job; in Shanghai. The most mature cooperative venture between Virginia and China, the trade relationship between Waynesboro and Chongqing is off the agenda. But he's exporting a government position from Richmond to China.
"Gov. Bob McDonnell has opened a marketing office for Virginia in Shanghai. The governor is on a two-week job creating and marketing mission in Japan, China and Korea." - The Roanoke Times
This effort underlines McDonnell administration's paucity of business and international experience. While setting up the post hoc ergo proctor hoc fallacies for claims that he has "created jobs" out of this journey, he has arranged visits that are little more than photo opportunities. No substance from any of the dispatches. And he assumed (or his staff is truly incompetent) he could waltz into China and doors would fly open. They didn't and those with a bit of experience in this area can tell you that China sent a very clear message to McDonnell: "Just who do you think you are?" As reported in The News Virginian McDonnell said Tuesday in a conference call from Shanghai that he's "sure something will work out in the future." Yes, that's how those international deals are done: something works out. Ask George Mitchell.

Obama and energy – the lack of a real policy

It is a Saturday morning.   The school year is now official 3/4 complete.  Normally I would write something about school, about students, about teaching.  But this morning I read Derrick Jackson's column in the Boston Globe, It's still oil and nuclear power for Obama, and found my mind occupied by thoughts flowing from reading it.  The subtitle read "US sits idly by as other nations heavily invest in renewable power" and that perhaps explains why my mind is so occupied.

Others here are far more knowledgeable than am I on energy issues.  People like A Siegel, Jerome a Paris and Meteor Blades have been on this topic since before the first Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas in 2006.  

This is an issue as important as any we face.   It certainly connects with my concerns about public education.

So this morning I find myself impelled to bring attention to Jackson's op ed, to explore the related issues, and if possible to make an argument as broadly as possible about why an appropriate national energy policy is of immediate and critical necessity.  

McDonnell Administration: Call Us When We Can Take Credit

Even being handed a smoking gun, the McDonnell administration managed nothing more than to hedge a bet. Jim Cheng made a veiled effort to position the administration so it could claim participation and credit or maintain credible deniability for Waynesboro's overseas trade venture. Governor McDonnell's team just don't hunt.

"The secretary of trade [Jim Cheng] wants to hold a meeting after I get back to discuss future development of the foreign trade zone and what we're doing here." - Waynesboro councilman Mike Harris to The News Virginian

It isn't American economic development China is after, nor should it be. It's about business and national interests: concepts well beyond the scope of the Bob McDonnell team's skill set (see: ABC Privatization, VRS funding, and the soon to be nostalgic AAA bond rating). By the way, the hunt would have taken only a few keystrokes or a call to, heaven forbid, a scholar at the University of Virginia. Why didn't Cheng know that Hong Kong is positioned as a primary arbiter for wine imports to mainland China? That China is already a domestic wine producer and intends to become a major exporter (Great Wall Wine Company and others already export worldwide). That the Chinese domestic competition sells a mid-range wine for about $5.45 a bottle but export quality is fetching $30 to $45 per bottle in Hong Kong (all USD). That this may be an effort at import/export arbitrage; that we might leverage that margin to our advantage. We shouldn't give away the vineyard for a short term gain or potential near-term boom and the inevitable long-term disappointment. But Cheng was not so forthcoming.

"In terms of overall growth in demand for wine in China over the next 10 years, China will become both a massive producer and a massive importer of wine," says Don St Pierre, head of ASC, the Chinese wine importer and distributor acquired by Japanese drinks giant Suntory in 2009.

Wine has suffered the same trials as any number of other Chinese products. Excessive levels of ethanol and chemical additives have resulted in safety concerns and recalls. Virginia winery best practices may be the object of Chinese attention rather than the wines that are being produced in our region. Or it could be something entirely different. One thing is certain: China is not footing the bill for the Waynesboro councilman's journey without an anticipated return on investment. Another thing is certain: Governor McDonnell's team is out of its league. It can't even table the equivalent of a city councilman's initiative; nor, they have proven, should they. But they are happy to share anything Councilman Price may accomplish so long as there's credit to go around. They are proving how much they do love credit.

Korea Simplified

What we have there is a counterproductive cold war paradigm client state face-off. For decades, when cast as a confrontation between east and west, tension between north and south had a basis. There is no natural division between the Siamese-twin Koreas; neither physical, tribal, linguistic, nor spiritual.

Those with experience on the Korean peninsula have perspectives shaped by their own when and why. Though there are still times of acute tension, the level of chronic anxiety has diminished with the changes in the relationships between the sponsor states. For some time, the sponsors (except for a brief and short-sighted thrust by Bush II) have considered the breaches of peace irritatingly counterproductive. In the big scheme of things, there is nothing in Korea to justify the sponsors expending national treasure and blood. For the Koreans, it is not much of a different story, though those south of the DMZ stand to lose more.  

The Koreans understand this. They and their sponsors have written a variety of mutating scripts for the violent resumption of hostilities. The plans for the fighting remain variations on similar themes. The plans for intrigue are much more revealing. On both sides, there is a civil affairs design that works whether implemented as a result of war or of internal collapse. It is the more important plan.  

Is Webb Missing the Main Point on China?


In this video, Jim Webb talks about what he sees as "the need to reinvigorate U.S. relations with ASEAN countries and other allies in the region to maintain balance and stability" vis-a-vis China. According to Webb, the "second-tier countries" in the Asia-Pacific region see "any failure by the United States to take firm action when the Chinese manifest aggressive behavior is viewed in this region as a sign of a permeating weakness in the United States."  In Webb's view, we need to "stay with our friends" and let China know that "the wrong type of behavior is not going to be rewarded with a weak form of behavior by the United States."

In my view, that's fine as far as it goes; there's nothing wrong with strengthening relations with our allies in the region, and there's nothing wrong with being strong in our response to outright aggressive behavior by China. However, I believe that Webb largely misses the larger point, of what Anne Applebaum correctly describes as "China's quiet power grab". For more on that, see after the "fold."

China Facts We Should Consider When Thinking Ahead (if We Do)

Once upon a time it was a basic assumption that no country had permanent friends, but that each country had permanent interests. Friends might come and go ("what have you done for me lately?") but interests, well, they were based on geopolitical realities, not on ideology or religion. When we now have a major domestic political party that is more interested in contemplating its own navel, driven by its own ripening rightist heroics and fantasies, and whose presidential choices never seem to think more than one move ahead, well, it behooves the rest of us to protect ourselves and our national interest by doing exactly such thinking ahead. Therefore, here are some facts (yes, I know that "facts" frighten the aforementioned political party, but so be it) we may wish to contemplate and include when exercising foresight for our future, facts complied by BusinessInsider

Tarring the BP Moment

With the prospect of the BP crisis drawing to a diminished level of angst, there's no reason to relax. There are Nigerian oil spills, 62 underground coal fires in China, Haitian deforestation, the shrinking Aral Sea, and the Eastern Garbage Patch. All decades of cumulative environmental destruction.

These are the big, sexy ones, but there are thousands of others. Just one example: we have managed to contaminate the entire world with polychlorinated biphenyls aka PCBs. The whole world. We are redefining survival of the fittest (or so we think) through genetic engineering. This is a new twist on "fittest." Want an uplifting documentary? Try The World According to Monsanto and then feel guiltless about serving your child that next glass of milk.

Jefferson believed in a natural aristocracy. Nature has time and takes its time in allowing success to percolate. We are not the final arbiter. But we affect the outcome, despite the denial.

Video: Why China Is Winning the Clean Energy Race


By the way, the World Meteorological Organization just issued a report  which "found that 2009 was the fifth warmest year on record 'since the beginning of of instrumental climate records around 1850.'" But no, the world's not getting warmer or anything. Hey, it snowed last winter! (snark)