December 11, 2017 rss
header twitter link facebook link
Sign Up For Weekly E-Bulletins

Twitter Graphic

Follow Us!

Bridge to China

by Tom Watkins
September 16, 2009

Michigan’s 2006 race for governor set a tone that continues to handcuff our state’s bleak economy.

Millions of dollars were spent in that race by the Michigan Democratic Party and the Granholm for Governor campaign to use China to demonize the governor’s political opponent.

It may be good politics to rhetorically beat up on China to score points with beleaguered Michigan workers, but it does nothing to build jobs-producing relationships with the fastest-growing large economy on the planet.

My current work in China and my more than 20 years of travel there convince me that rather than stirring fear, we need to be devising an aggressive plan to make China’s rise and globalization work for us. China can and must be part of the ingredients necessary to reinvent and revitalize Michigan’s economy.

Sadly, there is no such plan in Michigan today or the will at the highest levels to begin crafting one. Not only has our “go anywhere, do anything” for jobs governor still not made a trade mission to China in her nearly seven years in office, she continues to go to the anti-China well to curry political favor.

As recently as August 25, in a fundraising appeal for her lieutenant governor’s bid to succeed her, she wrote: “Michigan stands at a crossroads: what kind of state do we want to be in the 21st century? Do we want to be a place where the unemployed suffer while we watch our jobs shipped off on a slow boat to China, on the Internet to India, or on a fast track to Mexico?” This type of appeal pops back up at the same time the chairman of the state party can’t wait to reopen the Democrats’ 2006 anti-China playbook; he’s already throwing jobs-exporting charges against an entrant in the earliest stages of the Republican primary contest.

This type of 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.

It’s high time the governor and the rest of us in Michigan stopped using China for division and subtraction and started developing a plan to assure that China’s rapid rise results in addition and multiplication of jobs in Michigan.

While some might dismiss the campaign rhetoric as “only politics” and point instead to successful manufacturing initiatives by Michigan-based automakers and others, it’s clear that when it comes to China, Michigan is like the proverbial nine blind men holding an elephant. Each individual describes the animal quite differently depending on the part he is holding. There is no shared vision, no overall direction, no common agenda.

A snapshot of our state’s disjointed approach to China can be seen by activity in Chongqing, the largest and most populated municipality of the People’s Republic of China’s four provincial-level municipalities. No fewer than seven Michigan business, K-12 school, university and other economic development groups passed through this municipality to meet with various Chinese government officials within a month of each other in 2007. There was little or no coordination between the various groups on what our overall objective is as a state to tap into this rapidly growing world economic power.

As the great Chinese Philosopher Lao Tsu said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Yet, as we say in America, “if you don’t know where you are going, any path will take you there.”

Mother lode
There was a time when what happened in China had minimal impact on our lives. Those days are gone. What happens in China no longer stays in China. The Asian behemoth is underwriting U.S. debt to the tune of $1 trillion and growing, has the fastest-growing large economy in the world, has made more autos than America for five months in a row, and is spewing ever-more pollution that hastens global climate change.

Since the opening of China to the world by Deng Xiaoping, the leader who followed Mao Zedong, China is a rising economic superpower. The Chinese economy has grown by double digits for the past 20 years. I often feel like a kid in a candy shop each time I visit. There is so much new development to absorb, and on such a massive scale.

It all adds up to countless business opportunities in China for Michigan companies willing to be creative and innovative. It also points to an important role for state government to play, once it stops looking at China through a rearview mirror and recognizes the reality of the situation and the enormity of the opportunities.

The Chinese market, with 1.3 billion people and a rising middle class, is the mother lode of 21st century global commerce. More than 300 million Chinese people have risen out of poverty in the last quarter century. The Chinese auto market has mirrored that nation’s double-digit economic growth for 20 years.

For anyone who has traveled in China recently, burning eyes and congested lungs testify that economic development has come with a stiff environmental price — polluted air, rivers, streams and lakes. The factories that are producing much of what will be under Michiganders’ Christmas trees this year are fueled by dirty coal spewing out soot and fouling the air and water. Further complicating the problem is growing auto pollution. It is predicted that the Chinese auto market will surpass the U.S. market in 10 years, and there will be seven times the number of cars on China roadways in 2020 than there were in 2004.

China’s energy needs are as great or greater than their environmental needs as they continue to emerge from the horrors of the Cultural Revolution and other ill-forged national policies that held the sleeping dragon back for much of the 20th Century. The Chinese need to invest in energy production in an environmentally sensible way. According to the U.S. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the Chinese will need to invest nearly $2 trillion in new power plants and transmission by 2030.

Many reports coming out of China point to the fact that Chinese leaders are recognizing the huge problem of pollution and encouraging new green technology to address these issues, lest they choke off the economic dragon that is lifting many Chinese out of poverty and providing the stability the Chinese Communist Party will pay any price to maintain.

At a time when the fog of decline and pessimism hangs over Michigan like a cloud of pollution over Beijing, Michigan can fuel its own economic rise by helping the Chinese meet their challenges on the broad fronts of economic development, energy production and pollution reduction.

Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. Chinese/Mandarin is the language most used on the Internet. There are more people who can speak English in China than there are English-speaking people in America.

These facts do not bode well for our future. We must realize that the world is changing and we must race to catch up — especially when it comes to being able to understand and communicate with other people in their language.

Many believe China and the U.S. will be the two super powers of this young century. Knowledge is power. The Chinese are studying our language, history, political systems and other ways to enhance their standing in the world. Can we say we are aggressively doing the same? How much do you know about China? We need far more of our students learning Chinese.

Michigan and America will continue to be successful when we recommit to making our state and nation the “brain bank of the world,” the place where everyone comes for intellectual deposits and withdrawals and we are exporting knowledge, creativity, innovation and talent onto the world stage. Yet we continue to disinvest in education, from high-quality preschool to top-flight institutions of higher education, and our current national immigration policies are blocking some of the best minds from China and around the world from coming to our shores.

The 21st Century belongs to the globally connected — are we wired (or better still, wireless) for change?

Perhaps John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems, summed it up best when he said, “If we move slower than our global peers, we will be left behind.” Other states and nations are far ahead of us on this economic race to benefit from China’s rise. Can we shift gears quickly enough to catch up?

Our greatest fear should not be the “outsourcing” of jobs to China or India, but rather the fact that, as with their economy, the Chinese are intent on improving their system of education in ways that will make them extremely competitive in the future.

We need to understand that this is a new world. It used to be that our children had to compete for jobs with the kids in the school district or state next door. Today the competition is worldwide. Because of technology, ideas and work can and do move across political borders. We must adapt to this new world.

We need a greater sense of urgency to help prepare our children for the rising global competition. Just because we have been “on top” for a good number of years does not mean we have a lifelong guarantee to stay there. If we hope to be ready for the hyper-competitive new world order, we better get very serious about investing in education from the cradle to the grave.

The enemy is not China. As comic-strip philosopher Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and it is us!” We must do a much better job of preparing our children and providing retraining opportunities for workers who are caught up in the disruptive, transformational economic changes that are taking place.

We can compete — but only if we continue to invest in the education and training for our people. We are not doing an adequate job at this date.

Stop whining
Like a football dynasty that believes it has a “right” to be Number 1, some of Michigan’s “coaches” are complaining about the new team on the rise. The whining from Michigan leaders reminds me of a football team that has done a poor job recruiting, has too many players on injured reserve, has lousy draft picks, outdated equipment and a poorly thought-out game plan … and wonders why it’s falling behind.

Well, sometimes that other team is more agile, nimble, faster, and…surprise…sometimes it cheats and gets away with it. But Michigan’s team is in a rebuilding phase and needs to focus on its own game plan and stop complaining about the other team. As my old coach would say: “Get over it!”

Some of the standard complaints against the Chinese team are currency manipulation, intellectual piracy, unfair labor practices, labor exploitation, unfair tariffs on our goods, and human rights violations. Do these issues need to be addressed? Of course they do; they’re serious and we must press to have them addressed. They tip the playing field in the other team’s direction, which is why we must lodge complaints with the World Trade Organization, our Congress and president, and Chinese officials themselves.

But just as we can’t look the other way on these imbalances, we can’t simply sit on the sidelines until the issues are resolved. We need to be in the game and compete to win. Complaining has never won a single game.

While we were growing fat and sassy as the “Emperor on the Hill,” China has been studying, practicing, learning and developing a game plan that could knock the economic crown right off our noggins.

China “is on course to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy within two decades,” says Oded Shenkar, author of Chinese Century: The Rising Chinese Economy and Its Impact on the Global Economy, the Balance of Power, and Your Job. That’s not to say that China doesn’t have profound challenges as it manages the world’s largest human migration from the countryside to the city, attempts to provide jobs to those in state enterprises who were promised an “iron rice bowl,” addresses local corruption, labor grievances and ethnic unrest while trying to keep the concepts of democracy and freedom out. It does.

But China is the up and coming team to beat, and it should be our goal in Michigan to learn to compete with the Chinese in a way that will benefit our team in equally dramatic ways.

Positive steps
Fortunately, Michigan’s business, education, cultural and even regional political leaders are not waiting for leadership from state government to begin the immense task ahead.

Almost two years ago I served as a China, education and business consultant for a two-hour special on CBS-WWJ-Detroit TV, “Building Bridges: From the Great Lakes To The Great Wall.” Take the time to watch this special — it will open your eyes to a country whose educational and economic systems are on steroids!

Shot in stunning high-definition media and hosted by Carol Cain, community affairs and editorial director of WWJ-TV and a Detroit Free Press business columnist, “Building Bridges” leads you on a journey through China and Michigan to see how the Chinese have built one of the most explosive economies on the planet. This series takes a look at how the economic growth in China could help position Michigan for future growth.

Cain interviewed an exhaustive roster of experts to offer the most comprehensive report to date on this issue. As part of preparing the show, we traveled extensively throughout China and Michigan to see firsthand how bold pioneers in business and education are laying the groundwork for future prosperity. The program features exclusive interviews with virtually every local business leader and decision maker who will play a part in Michigan’s economic expansion.

The county executives from Wayne and Oakland, Robert Ficano and L. Brooks Patterson, along with Paul Gieleghem, chairman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, are doing their part to build bridges. The have organized multiple trade missions, set up offices in China and encouraged their local community schools to begin to offer Mandarin Chinese to their students.

Quick, name three things that Michigan has that China does not? They are clean air, clean water and a near pristine environment. Wayne County’s Ficano, a Democrat, sees China’s environmental problems as an opportunity to put Michigan to work and is looking at ways our businesses can help China build environmentally friendly power plants, clean the air, help purify the water and put our people to work cleaning China’s environment. How’s that for clearing the air with China?

Oakland County’s Patterson, a Republican, at my urging has called for the teaching of Chinese language, history and culture in all Oakland schools to help prepare students for the flattened, global planet they will inherit — and to also make Oakland County an economic magnet for Chinese investment in the future. There are Chinese educational pioneers spreading across Michigan offering Mandarin Chinese to K-12 students in a number of school districts, and Michigan’s Internet-based virtual school now offers such classes to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

The national College Board and Hanban (the Chinese office of Chinese Language Council International) have been collaborating to take school leaders to China to learn firsthand about Chinese language and culture. Hanban also supports the Confucius Institute at Wayne State University and Michigan State University, with two additional institutes in the planning stages at the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University.

The state universities, especially U-M, MSU, Wayne State and Oakland University, have extensive academic and research bases in China. Further, Kalamazoo College and Madonna University are doing exciting work building connections with China.

The University of Michigan’s history with China dates back more than 130 years after then U-M President James Angell visited China to forge treaties in his capacity as U.S. minister to China in the 1880s. Former UAW President Leonard Woodcock was chosen by President Jimmy Carter to serve as an envoy to China in 1977, and he succeeded in negotiating the reestablishment of U.S.-Chinese diplomatic relations. Woodcock served as ambassador to China in 1979–80, after which he worked at U-M, which has one of the most prestigious China academic and cultural connections in the West. U-M also has a partnership with the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University that teaches mechanical and electrical engineering and offers dual degrees to successful students.

The Butzel Long law firm has established two entities headquartered in Ann Arbor that are designed to bring Chinese investment into Michigan, assist Michigan companies in generating revenue in China that can be brought back into the state, and provide humanitarian aid to remote parts of the world commencing in western China.

These are just some of the examples where individual spans of a China bridge are being constructed. But they are only a small part of what’s necessary.

In short, our hope for competing with China in the future is sitting in our classrooms today. The viability of our society, strength of our economy and quality of our lives is inextricably linked to the quality of our education system. Having seen the rapid economic and education expansion of China, I know the competition our children and nation face — it is fierce and will not relent.

A bigger fear than the outsourcing of jobs to China should be the consequences of the fact that China’s education system is currently producing 10 times the number of engineers and other knowledge workers as the United States.

Michigan plan
While all of these fragmented bridge-building steps are important, what’s missing is a comprehensive statewide initiative to tap this rich vein of potential investment in ways to create jobs for our citizens and make the rise of China work for us.

Former Governor William Milliken signed friendship and sister-state/province agreements with Sichuan Province in 1982 and former Governor Jim ("Jobs, Jobs, Jobs") Blanchard traveled there to recruit business opportunities. But after Blanchard left office at the end of 1990, that connection dried up because of a lack of follow-up. The Chinese expect to meet with top elected officials in the state, such as the governor, not lower-level representatives.

While there have been recent state trade missions to China, they have been haphazard with no strategic focus or follow through to produce the desired results — investment in Michigan and jobs for our citizens. Doing buiness in China cannot be a series of one-night stands. It must be built with specific goals in mind and by establishing the highest-level relationships that are sustainable to produce the desired results.

Michigan has much to offer the Chinese, from our world-class system of higher education, technological know-how, abundant crops, golf, casinos, and personal and commercial property at fire-sale prices. Michigan’s tourism industry is ripe to tap the China market.

With 1.3 billion people, hundreds of millions who have climbed into the middle class, and hundreds of thousands of new millionaires, along with a push to modernize and invest overseas, there is not much the Chinese do not need or want.

Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Amway and other Michigan companies have tapped the China market. They are doing quite well and their efforts are helping to employ workers here in Michigan.

That 2006 governor’s race was also an introduction to the politics of globalization. The tit for tat between Governor Jennifer Granholm and challenger Dick DeVos over who was going to create jobs here in Michigan and who was going to ship jobs to China was like watching a ping pong match with Michigan’s workers stuck in the middle.

For those who have lost a job recently and see foreign competition as the culprit, globalization, and particularly China, becomes a bogeyman and can be viewed with anger, fear and hostility. Understandably, a state that has lost nearly a million jobs in the last decade has many a fearful worker ready to believe any bumper sticker blaming the other guy for “shipping your job to China” rather than hearing the economic reality that we have lost more jobs to other states — the ones that have been successful in attracting Toyota, Honda, BMW and VW plants — and through productivity gains bought on by technology than we have lost to China. As DeVos learned the hard way, bumper-sticker rhetoric trumps Economics 101.

“Globalization is no longer a theory; it is a reality,” proclaims Kenichi Ohmae in his book, The Next Global Stage: Challenges and Opportunities in our Borderless World. He goes on, “It [globalization] is going to grow stronger rather than weaker. It will feed on its own strengths. It is irresistible, and it is determined to have an impact on everybody — businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats, but, most importantly, on ordinary citizens. There is no use complaining about it or wishing it to go away. People will have to learn to live with it.”

Michigan — if it accepts Ohmae’s world view, and it should — needs to explore how it can tap into the hundreds of billions of dollars the Chinese hold in trade imbalance and tilt the world to have some of that cash return to our state through investment and trade. We need to create an environment for foreign capital to breed and grow here.

If it were not for the Chinese investment in our nation’s bond market, interest rates for our homes and cars would be significantly higher. We need a strategy to have a marriage between the Great Wall of China and the Great Lake State of Michigan that will benefit both peoples. Currently, there is no such strategy.

Here are some steps that could be taken to enable Michigan to tap the rich China vein:

  1. First, the governor needs to decide to get out of campaign mode, drop the China rhetoric that is not conducive to building positive relationships (what the Chinese call “guanxi”), conclude China is not going away and ask how to make its rise work for our state.
  2. Seek advice from knowledgeable individuals inside and outside Michigan on what other states and nations are doing that we should emulate and what is uniquely Michigan that the Chinese want or need.
  3. Convene a cross section of Chinese American community leaders from such groups as the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit, Chinese American Association, Asian and Pacific Islanders Chamber of Commerce, and Detroit Chinese Business Association and ask how the state can leverage their existing China relationships.
  4. Brainstorm with all the various China experts and pull together an action plan that can position Michigan to take full advantage of the continuing rise of China, with emphasis on economic, cultural, agricultural, tourism and education initiatives.

Silk Route
Leaders don’t stand on the sidelines and complain and blame; they get in the game to win.

Northwest/Delta airlines has restarted its nonstop flight from Detroit to Shanghai. This flight has established a direct, two-way economic bridge to China and has the potential to become the 21st-century silk route.

Michigan leaders need to board a future NWA/Delta nonstop flight to China on a quest to make sure the China bridge that is being built is a two-way span that can create jobs and wealth right here in the mitten state.

If the direct flight to China is not incentive enough, perhaps our governor can hitch a ride on Air Force One this November when President Obama is expected to visit his counterpart, President Hu, in China. The meeting between the two leaders will likely tackle the global economy, climate change, energy, environment and security issues surrounding North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. If the governor plays her cards right, perhaps President Obama will put a good word in with President Hu about China investing in Michigan.

Remember the ancient Chinese saying about beginning with a single step? It is time Michigan broke into a run.


Tom Watkins consults on China economic development and education issues for businesses and organizations and is the former state superintendent of Michigan public schools and a former state mental health director. You can read Watkins’ China/change blog at:


220 responses so far ↓

  • 1 edie abramczyk // Sep 17, 2009 at 8:49 am

    For Detroit- Wayne County’s sake, I would hope Mr. Ficano & Mr. Bing would hitch a ride (with or without our President) to China – they would do well to promote our city/county & state by bringing back paying jobs….the bridge to China is NOT – a one way road and our local leaders “should not just sit here – DO SOMETHING!” (as my father would say) So, I agree with Mr. Watkins but forget about the gov. she is out of here……

  • 2 William Coale, Ph.D. // Sep 17, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Once again, Tom Watkins has rung the bell, but nobody in Michigan seems to want to listen…very similar to the way that the Big 3 ignored similar warning bells from foreign automakers. Unless Michigan develops a clear, coordinated, comprehensive development plan toward engaging China, an unbelievably huge economic and cultural opportunity will be missed. We can’t afford NOT to act. Michigan won’t have many more chances to re-invent itself, and time is running out. We can’t afford to let politics get in the way of developing a strategy that can determine our state’s future.

  • 3 Tamara Bashore-Berg // Sep 17, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Excellent essay…I only pray that “the powers that be” in Lansing and throughout the formerly great state of Michigan heed this wake up call. Tom Watkins has been sounding the alarm, and similar to what happened when he sounded the alarm on education funding in Michigan 5 years ago, our political leaders are not waking up to the alarm. What needs to happen to get them to see our only hope for Michigan’s survival is to STOP the anti-globalism rhetoric that, as Mr. Watkins points out, not only fails to create a single Michigan job, it makes the task that much harder by perpetuating anti-China and anti-Asian sentiment?

  • 4 jerry xu // Sep 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

    We, as a state, has been falling behind on taking advantage of China’s growth for years. I would suggest top power in Lansing should meet up with Tom and listen to him about China policy.

  • 5 Yvette // Sep 17, 2009 at 11:21 am

    The problem in the rabbit and turtle race is that the rabbit never suspected the turtle would ever win the race. In the business world, people say it is not a problem if you don’t know something, but it IS a problem if you are not even aware of what you don’t know existed. That’s the same idea. When you memtion China, a lot of people here still project a stone-age image in their heads. That has to change. China is not in the stone age anymore. So, wake up rabbit. And by the way, China is definitely not a turtle.

  • 6 KP CHEN // Sep 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    There are still huge voltage differences between our Digital Michigan and the emerging Analog China … For the past 30 years, PRC did their homeworks to diminish their end of the parity, whereas, Michigan or U.S., relatively less or much less.

    That is to say, a Golden Bridge launched with only a South End (but no North End)construction. The result of which is China’s 2.1T foreign reserve asset, and U.S. and U.K. with tremendous government debt bubble.

    Now, 09/09, the most needed things to do, likely, are the most difficult. Political barriers are merely reflection of our psychological barriers.

    The (cultural and economic) Digital to Analog Converter, like the Bridge over the trouble water, is not easy to do. We can probably find and borrow a lot of insights from Electronic Engineering, of which, our Governor probably is lacking.

    Plus, the task is so overwhemming, the candle well lit in the room, when it goes out, the wind blows it off complete just as quickly.

    So, I will suggest:

    We invest in a Pilot Hope Project, involving an employee scale of 3,000. Mixing, roughly, 1/3 Asians, with 2/3 NonAsians, balanced with both Yin and Yang.

    Attach simultaneously to 5 (business) ministries, in the following order, to leave and solidify more enduring and deeper Footprints:

    - Nonprofit (social programs, charity-centric)

    - Medical Services (Hospital, Medical Center, Nursing College and Medical School)

    - Educations (from Kindergarden, university to Post-graduate)

    - Cultures (TV, Media, Books, CDs)

    - Environmental Protection through reuse, renew and recycling.

    The mission and vision is simple: create a New America which adapts, self shields, remakes herself and can recreates.

    Plus, when the voltage becomes too high, knows also, how to distribute the charges and exhausts, gracefully.

  • 7 ronjstefanski // Sep 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    If there is an elephant in the room, we need to introduce it– the elephant here in our state is a long-standing dependance on our automotive industry at the expense of a unified global business development strategy.

    Trying to preserve legacy business models which create huge wage differentials in a global economy, may be more palatable to those currently holding jobs, but the ride is over. We must begin creating new jobs, and technology is the pathway to get us there.

    It is then that we can begin to create the infrastructure that will support a new breed of technical and knowledge workers poised for the 21th century economy.

  • 8 Peter Siegle // Sep 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Terrific work Tom – appreciate the leadership.

  • 9 Stephen B. // Sep 17, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    As a Michigan-based business owner, I’ve seen many successful local businesses who benefit from working with Chinese partner companies to bring jobs to Michigan. It is a win-win for both Michigan and China, more importantly, for our fellow Michiganians to improve quality of our lives.

  • 10 John H. // Sep 17, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    The Chinese are going to invest that hundreds of billions of dollars somewhere. Lets open our eyes to new possibilities and ask why not Michigan?

  • 11 sherry xu // Sep 17, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    As an educator. I truly agree with Mr. Watkins. China started to learn the world from early 80s. It took them about 20 years to be seen from world, not just to sell cheap stuff to the world.
    Trying to understand the differences between China and US, trying to build up the relationship no matter is educational or business perceptive view, will benefit both sides.
    In China, there is a saying: it is take ten years grow a tree, but it takes a century to develope a generation.
    Do not sit and watch, it is time to build up the bridge and relation. The world is flat now.

  • 12 KP CHEN // Sep 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    You know, when you really think about it, Michigan is good for the something such as :

    - Run a mile under 4 minutes
    - High Jump to top 2.40 meters, or,
    - The Birth of Auto.

    Maybe, we are indeed most gifted at investing something, say, cracking the (metaphysical) code for the Digital (West) and Analog (East) Converter.

    The 9th wonder???

    Nobody ever do, and most say, it is impossible.

    So, why not, we try to crack the secret?

    Once we do, we then opt to use it, or just put it back.

    Today, we stand at a junction of history:

    Financially led recovery, more mystical derivatives and securitizations needed.


    Industrially led recovery, then, we most likely need to crack the code.

  • 13 Craig Douglas // Sep 17, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    As a k-12 superintendent, I am calling for a standing ovation for Tom Watkins’ essay! I had the opportunity to spend 8 days in China last summer, and every point Mr. Watkins has made is accurate. We have no reason to fear the action steps Tom has spelled out for us; it will benefit our generation and those following us.

    Plus, if we really understand the urgency of our challenge, what a wonderful focus for our State! We can rally behind a common cause that will give us a purpose…. perhaps this is something we have been lacking.

  • 14 Felix Chow // Sep 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Anyone remembers when the label, “Made in Japan,” transformed from cheap imitations to high quality products? Americans were hostile to the Japanese goods (especially cars) during the oil embargo in the late 1970s. Now, Toyota has the largest share of the U.S. market. Many Toyotas are built in the U.S. whereas many of the “Big 3″ automobiles are built in Mexico or Canada. So, which one is a real American product? I guess that is why, GNP (Gross National Products) has been replaced by GDP (Gross Domestic Products) in the U.S. economic reports.

    During the height of the American industrialization, Pittsburg was so polluted that the Allegheny River actually caught fire. I will not be surprised if some cities in China are facing similar conditions.

    So, how can we in Michigan to get the Chinese to invest here in Michigan (e.g., manufacturing plants) and to sell environmental products and services to China? If we don’t, other states (e.g., California) would or have already done so.

    “Pure Michigan” could be “Pure Michigan: innovative and competitive.”

    Written by a Michigander: Felix Chow

  • 15 Shawnee // Sep 17, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    It is true, this world becomes a globule society, Mr. Watkins has a broader vision. His advice is invaluable during these bad economic times. People will receive benefits if the government uses his idea.

  • 16 Ed Watkins // Sep 18, 2009 at 6:15 am

    After working and living in the Nation’s Capitol (Wash. D.C.) for 50 plus years, I am used to reading and hearing rhetoric at a high level on how things are bad and how they should be better and yet those people just seem to want to hear their own voice or get their words published.
    That is how the political game is played. Offering up fear and not providing any answers on how to move past it.
    This Country (USA) was established by people looking for freedom of choice and a better way of living.
    And we found it.
    Our forefathers recognized the need to establish ways to reach out to other countries to tap their resources and also to have these other Countries reach back to America for what we could provide.
    That is one of the major reasons we have been so successful.
    While Tom Watkins is my younger brother and we have had our brotherly disagreements over the years, it is enlightening to see that he has the foresight to realize that if we do not get into the boat with China now while they are emerging, there may be no room for us later and we will be left to drown in their wake!
    So “drop the rock” America and climb aboard, at least Tom Watkins is providing not only ideas, but better yet, he is giving us solutions.
    What more could we ask for?

  • 17 sal // Sep 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Michigan could reap enormous benefits by listening to what Tom Watkins has to say. He has repeatedly pointed out the economic rewards of establishing such a relationship with China. Can Michigan afford to pass up such an opportunity? I think not, by starting with the action steps that Tom has laid out Michigan can take that first step in developing this relationship. What are we waiting for?

  • 18 Dave Lawrence // Sep 18, 2009 at 10:39 am

    This piece is a model of clear-thinking wisdom — not only for Michiganders (of which I was one for 11 years), but also for anywhere and anyone in this country.

  • 19 Elizabeth Kangas // Sep 18, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Will Michigan ever comprehend and act upon what Tom Watkins has been trying to tell us for the past few years? Probably not under this administration. Which is sad because it puts us further behind the “eight ball”?
    My mother always said that it takes a big person to admit he/she is wrong. Michigan has been wrong on the China issue for a very long time.” Villian-izing” the Chinese for accepting jobs that OUR government allowed to be exported, is ignorant of us. But it is exactly what was wanted. If our attention is on third world countries for taking our jobs then we are not spending much time looking at how our jobs were so easily shipped overseas! Why would we blame any country for wanting what Americans have always cherished – the right to better oneself through hard work and education? And our government is again going to strip us of the one thing that has protected us and built the middle class – our unions. We again are making unions out to be the bad guys instead of trying to find a middle ground and work with them. No one entity is perfect and it is obvious that the time has come for much needed reform. But, I’m digressing.
    Michigan needs to step up and recognize that the only way to become solvent is to start building global partnerships. The USA has lost its standing at THE world power. Our children are competing on a global scale for jobs and yet we are not even preparing them educationally for this contest. Michigan is decreasing per pupil funding this year by $110 per student and next year it is going to be worse. School districts are not prepared to adjust to this type of shortfall in the budget. What will that do the classroom? Most school districts balance their budgets by laying-off teachers which increases class sizes.
    So Michigan needs to start thinking outside of the box.
    I believe that if “Michigan” can turn the other cheek and say “Hey Tom, you have a lot of great ideas/solutions. Take us to China and help us build the bridges we need in order to make Michigan the global destination (it has the potential to be) for business, leisure and education!” that there is hope for our survival.
    As it stands now, many people are moving out of state in search of a better life, better jobs and education. If we just stand by and allow this to happen, then we deserve what we get.
    There are a lot of excellent comments here. I hope they do not fall on “deaf ears”
    KP Chen your post reflected on some great thoughts and initiatives’. I hope some action is taken to move them forward.

  • 20 Michael Warren // Sep 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Over the last several years Tom has been thoughtfully raising issues of critical importance to Michigan – including the need to restructure our education funding system and to address the issues raised by China head on. We all know what has happened to Michigan over the last several years, and Tom raises important issues for us to consider.

    Denial is not an option. China is not going away. Global competition is only going to increase. Michigan needs to leverage every opportunity available and create competitive advantages for itself, or we will be relegated to 3rd world status. Those with vision like Tom need to be heard and acted upon.

  • 21 Ken Lampar // Sep 19, 2009 at 8:45 am

    As a new Macomb County Commissioner, one of my first actions was to invite Tom Watkins to share many of these obervations with business and education leaders in Macomb County. Our chair of the Macomb Board of Commissioners, Paul Gieleghem, is promoting active relationship building with China-based companies and a group of Macomb County leaders will visit China, at their own expense, in November. I will continue to work hard to “build bridges”, including helping my son with his new high school Mandarin class in Utica Community Schools. I will also discourage the false dichotomy of “Us v. China” in our political discourse. As Tom points out, we have much to offer in Michigan to China and the world…fresh water, fresh air, and fresh landscape. Let’s avoid the other false dichotomy of “jobs v. environment”, when we should be creating green jobs with green technology that can be used throughout the world. Our ingenuity can foster these jobs and our heritage of hard work and entrepreneurship can market them.

  • 22 Ray Mort // Sep 19, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Tom, as always, writes powerfully and convincingly about Michigan’s need to adapt to the global market. He clearly makes a case that unless Michigan overcomes the barriers of the politicization of trade with China and the movement for economic isolation, we will miss opportunities to revitalize Michigan’s economy. His suggestions for action are concrete, doable, well-formulated, and urgent.

    The biggest problem is to convince Michigan workers (and politicians) that there is everything to gain from engaging the Chinese economy and a lot to lose if we don’t. As Tom points out, between buying bonds and balance-of-trade, 1.5 trillion dollars now lies in repose in Chinese banks. To paraphrase Dillinger’s Q & A: “Why trade with China?” “It’s because that’s where the money’s at.”

    And that money will be spent somewhere. Pursuing Tom’s recommendations will open up new opportunities for our workers, make great strides returning that wealth, and also work to diversify Michigan’s economy. Perhaps we can’t compete so well against China’s manufacturing sector which has an inexhaustible reservoir of underemployed workers, but we can compete with ideas or solutions. IBM made the colossal mistake of underestimating the PC market which it gave away, then, after failing upon trying to re-enter it because it couldn’t compete, re-invented itself by selling “solutions.” We can greatly profit by selling to the Chinese solutions to the problems Tom mentions.

    However, to compete successfully in the world market, we must also globalize our education. Our country’s natural boundaries and friendly neighbors have allowed us to develop peacefully in cultural isolation for a long time. The downside is that our views of the world rely heavily on interpretation and lightly on experience. We risk mistaking political rhetoric and network news for reality. Most people I know who visit a foreign country for a sustained period of time come back with an optimistic appraisal of the world situation—and see the world differently, more connected, realistic, less apprehensive.

    Therefore, in this era of trillion dollar checks, why not write one for globalizing education and sending every high school and college student for a semester abroad so they can experience the world first hand, connect with other cultures, and thrive in a less-threatening world? That is where our strength, our future lies: giving our children the necessary knowledge and experience—the tools–to master the world economy rather than standing in their way futilely insisting on a world that no longer is.

    That solution probably will not happen anytime soon. In the meantime, Tom’s idea to use one of our untapped and largely unrecognized valuable resources, the great diversity of Michigan’s population, to gain insight into world trade is a good one. Businesses need not only language translators but “cultural translators” as well.

    Last year, I had the good fortune to work in a relatively obscure Chinese city in an autonomous province. When I first arrived, I was nervous because although I knew China had changed, all those messages of the danger of “Red China” that were imprinted on my youthful mind in the 60s refused to be erased. However, after living Chinese for awhile, getting to know the people, my perspective changed and altered my world view for the better. The politicians and “foreign experts” may say one thing, but I now have something with which to compare to form a more accurate assessment.

    While in China, I set out on an adventure to a mountaintop village. I hadn’t been apprised beforehand that the road ended half way up and would have to actually climb the rest of the way. So with much huffing and puffing up sometimes steep and perilous paths (and not a lot of railings to prevent me from falling hundreds of feet with any misstep) I finally made it to the top exhausted. Fortunately, there was a small store that had many Chinese snack items, but I also found, much to my delight, Double-Fudge Oreo cookies which I bought and quickly ripped open. In my fudge addled state of mind, I reflected that here was a clue to conducting successful business in China: discover how that product had penetrated the market so deeply to arrive at this isolated, difficult to access, remote spot—and for a profit.

    I hope the movers and shakers of Michigan will heed Tom’s advice. The message is clear: globalize and prosper or isolate and wither.

  • 23 David Lou // Sep 19, 2009 at 10:00 am

    The first time I met Tom was when two of us sat next to each other on a plane back from Shanghai to Detroit. I was really impressed by his passion and curiosity about China (I read his articles and reports about him before that). By the way, he went out of his way helping me settle my carry-on stuffs before we sat together, exchanging opinions about China, which were not in total agreement. He has travelled to more places in China than I (being a native Chinese) did.

    China’s latest development is inevitable, and it comes from people’s desire to live a better life. When both the Chinese and American open up to each other, there are so many win-win outcomes. In this regard, Michigan should be a leader. Let’s go blue.

  • 24 KP CHEN // Sep 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    30 years old, China formally kicked off their own “Michigan Project”, a piece of coastal land in a Canton fishing village was designated as The Special Zone …

    Meet the world … face the world … know the world … learn the world … make the world … be the world …

    This was China’s “Bretton Woods System” — Shenzhen pegs to the World and China pegs to Shenzhen, operated in a Chimerica Based Economic/Monetary Standard.

    The coastal factories, their knowhows, experiences, capitals, marketing and technologies, a lot came from Taiwan, Hong Kong, SouthEast Asia and Chinese Overseas …

    Without little Chinas, China is no China; without little men/women Chineses, Chinese is no Chinese. I am not sure, the lucky Beijing Mandarins really know that.

    Michigan could become US’s Shenzhen, the special zone, unique, amazing and creative.

    The dots we connect shall form no ordinary pictures.

    Art in new science. New science in art.


    Even if we have no money, totally out of money, we might even create a new temporary legal tender, Mich,

    Cap and trade, inaugurating with 1 Billion Mich 1st.

    Circulated and accepted among us and by our patrons and sponsors, later on fully convertible to dollars and Renmibi.

    The successes of Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco seem offer a lot of insights; they have had many levels of pavillions, tracks and certificates.

    So much so,

    A hiking trail becomes eventually a superhighway.

  • 25 Alfred Zucaro // Sep 20, 2009 at 6:57 am


    What an outstanding article. This, however,is no suprise to me. You have demonstrated forwarded thinking positions on international commerce, education, and global awareness for decades.

    But for your efforts in the early days of the international platform in Palm Beach County, this community would still be in the dark ages with regards to the international truths you identify in this and other articles written over time. But for your willingness to challenge the established thinking of the late 90s, some of today’s advancements would not have been realized. You are a foward thinker. Your travels, commentaries, and insights demonstrate this to a very high degree.

    Thank you…I for one have gained much through your efforts. Please continue on this course….my suggestiion is that you expand more into the public realm. America needs leaders that realize the value of education and trade. America needs leaders with appreciation for the culture and commerce. This said, it can be achieved by leaders willing to make greater demands and willing to support greater resouces in education with higher expectations from those being educated.


    Al Zucaro, chairman
    World Trade Center Palm Beach

  • 26 Philip L. Sorrell // Sep 20, 2009 at 8:27 am

    As a person that has lived and worked overseas for portions of the last 20 years (mostly in Asia), I agree with your article’s topics, points, background and repeated statements about the need for a plan to move this state forward.

    As you may remember, 20 – 30 years ago, Japan was the rising star in terms of economic might, and China was this “backwater” country that no ordinary citizen really paid much attention too. How things have changed in 20 years, and how sad it is that our elected officials still can not seem to see that light and get their act together to lead this state forward. (Also says a lot about our ability to elect representatives that can and will change the state of the state.)

    Now living in the Southeastern Michigan area, I look at Detroit and see a wasteland of neglect, corruption, etc. Between the city government and the school board, I do not know which is / was worse. The loss of potential in the city alone is unknown, and I personally do not see a change in sight until not only the school board, but the city government and the residents are held accountable for their actions. What is the long term plan and strategy to correct and excel?

    As a resident of Michigan, we all need to make sure that we hold our elected officials accountable for moving this state forward, and that requires us, as their electorate, to demand, yes demand, that every opportunity is seriously looked at in a quick and efficient manner, just as required in business. What is the long term plan and strategy to diversify and grow?

    As stated in the article, there has to be an ideological shift that equivalent to the moving of the tectonic plates, and a well laid out plan and strategy for ensuring that change occurs and becomes embedded in the daily lives of all in the state.

    We have much to learn from China and the rest of the world, as they have to still learn from us.

    We have a responsibility to ourselves, our children and future generations that we do not throw opportunity away just because it might offend someone; it might not generate the immediate gratification someone wants; and so forth.

    Thank you for the wonderful article.

  • 27 Matt Friedman // Sep 20, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Thanks to Dome for giving Tom the space needed for him to fully tell this story.

    I hope every elected official in the State reads this piece. It’s long past time for finger pointing. As Tom so wisely notes, it’s time to accept a new reality and determine how to make the most of it.

  • 28 bill longley // Sep 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    First priority of most political leadership is reelection or appointment somewhere. In our state that means protectionism so this crowd must be thrown out for any chance of partnership with China or anywhere with lower labor cost than our own. Remember, though, that Chinese communist leadership moves against US interests in nuclear proliferation and even assists a brutal African dictatorship to maintain an oil supply source.

  • 29 carol cain // Sep 21, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Tom continues to light a way to the future for Michigan with his push to build two-way bridges with China. He has been at the forefront for years on this and was a resonating voice and important part of WWJTV’s Emmy Award winning special “Building Bridges: From the Great Lakes To the Great Wall.”
    He is inspiring others too like Bob Ficano and Brooks Patterson.
    Glad to read he is continuing to raise this important topic.

  • 30 Dave Ratajik // Sep 21, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Well, as usual, this article is very well written from both substantive and form perspectives.
    Today, any state with severe economic problems is most likely going to have a strong union influence. There’s a place for organized labor, and I worked for a labor organization for 4 years, but not when it comes to the union being a barrier and a wall when it comes to change….and they don’t like change. Throw in the politicians being held captive with labor support, and there you go.
    In my opinion, this is an opportunity (not a problem) to circumvent all this and continue what you have already started at the grassroots level and work from the bottom up by focusing upon:
    * The mission…………..what is it? How is it defined?
    * Chinese and American combined team building.Identify and seek support from specific private businesses and public interests who “get it” and forget those who don’t.
    * Education, the environment, power production and manufacturing.
    * Identifying specific individuals within teams who are willing to exchange jobs or provide distance support using their expertise.
    *Potential funding support from grants from both nations. There’s $$ out there, and this is a unique concept to stimulate economy at the state level. What about John Engler at NAM?
    Tom Watkins is truly one of the good guys who does get it. What he is doing is forming a “natural system” that makes sense to most people, that works, and therefore he will ultimately be successful. Like most projects this one is front end loaded with effort, but once the system is aligned it will gain momentum and become a 900 lb American-Chinese gorilla.

  • 31 Susan Corbin // Sep 21, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I just wanted to make one correction in the history of Michigan’s relationship with Sichuan Province in China tht Tom writes about. Governor Milliken, not Governor Blanchard, originally signed the Michigan-Sichuan Sister State agreement, although it was signed just prior to Governor Blanchard’s election in 1982. Governor Blanchard was the first Michigan Governor to visit Sichuan after the signing.

    Editor’s note: That incorrect section has been revised accordingly.

  • 32 Jon Todd // Sep 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Good column Tom, I agree we need to stop demonizing people we disagree with and to start working on solutions for our state.

  • 33 Mike Murphy // Sep 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    As someone who has been in Intl. Logistics and Export Packaging for 30 yrs., I have seen LOTS of automation leave Michigan, and go to places like China, India, Korea, etc. However, what most people do not see, is that China loves U.S. products; esp. our quality. It’s also a status symbol to have/use U.S. products.
    So why not Michigan.
    If people would start to get active, about producing and sending parts or equipment to China, they would see what I see.
    And that means jobs for our state.
    Like Tom W. states: stop whining, and start “looking”.

  • 34 Michael Schwartz // Sep 21, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Tom, Great series of articles.

    From an engineer’s perspective, I agree that it is time we stopped whining about the competition from Chinese manufacturing and use it as a springboard to improve what we do over here. Every business has competition and the best way to overcome your competitors is to be better then they are, work harder and smarter than they do and, when it makes sense to do so, join forces with them to strengthen both entities.

    There are a lot of issues regarding Chinese quality and product consistency. I have experienced this first hand in both China and India. If you consider the amazing technological advances developed right here in Michigan, it’s not difficult to see that we live in the middle of one of the most creative brain banks in the world. Since China is a major manufacturing force and they do have some quality issues, and Michigan is filled with talented people with expertise in the very challenge areas facing China or any developing manufacturing power, we seem to be missing a huge opportunity to act as consultants to Chinese industries to help them become world class suppliers. The opportunities for helping the Chinese are vast and a tremendous amount of business can be created for Michigan’s talent to act as consultants to the various Chinese industries who sorely need to raise the level of their game. Perhaps teams of engineers and business consultants can be amassed from the many unemployed or underemployed Michigan professionals. This might be a great way for Governor Granholm to put some of our greatest resources to work.

  • 35 Youmin Lee // Sep 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Michigan needs wise visionary leaders like Tom to overcome the great challenges ahead. Thanks, Dome, for provide Tom with the platform to spread the positive insight ideas around so that we all can benefit from his wisdom!

  • 36 Sam D. // Sep 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    For those of us seeking to champion Michigan’s revitalization, Watkins continues to bait the hook for us on both sides of the ocean. We need only decide what fish should bite. What can Michiganders import from China and offer to the rest of the U.S.? In other words, what does China want that Michigan can manufacture and/or export to our neighbors? Has such a study been completed? If so, what are these products? If not, why not? Where there is significant demand, meeting that demand spells PROFITS. There must be savvy Chinese and Michigan entrepreneurs willing to assemble talent and other resources from both sides of the ocean to meet these needs — with or without Michigan politicians leading or in tow. Key Implementation Questions: By province, what U.S. products does China wish to import more of over a 5-10 year period? What products does the U.S. need, that China should export to us? Can Chinese and Michigan companies manufacture, import & export these items to meet the forecasted demand without triggering tariffs and subsidies? Is helping to influence trade policy the most valuable role that Michigan’s politicians can help to play in the short-term? Where’s that product/service SURVEY? :-)

  • 37 classroom13 // Sep 22, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Mr. Watkins is once again on target with this one. My fear is our leaders in Lansing and Michigan residents are satisfied with the status quo. As we continue to sleep away our future, China continues to challange our intellect, creativeness, inovation and competitive nature that made this country great. The China culture promotes a relentless value toward education and success. We, aa American society are forgetting “from whence we came.”

  • 38 F Zhang // Sep 22, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Tom has put tremendous efforts trying to create jobs for Michigan people and make the rise of China work for us. As a Michigan citizen, I thank him for that.

  • 39 B. Starling // Sep 22, 2009 at 6:44 am

    It is time for American’s to realize we are in a different world than our parents and grandparents… unless we can embrace a new way of doing business, and do it globally, we will fail.

  • 40 Ben W. // Sep 22, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I have often said – to anyone that would listen – that out of the many peoples of this world, the Chinese and American Midwesterner have the most in common. If Michigan can work with the Japanese, Germans, and Italians, why not the Chinese?

    The Chinese with their large foreign reserves are going to spend their money somewhere in the United States (and soon), the question is whether Michigan can capture its share of Chinese capital investment to help revitalize our State.

    Tom is right. We need to put aside our political rhetoric and work together towards a stronger Michigan.

  • 41 Martin Kastrup // Sep 22, 2009 at 8:14 am


    Thanks for your detailed insides about a country, which most of us, still, only know from the distance.
    As threatening as the fast growing chinese economy might appear, any economy that is intending to survive and do well in the future will have to deal with China in the one or the other way. Denial and demonising is nothing but closing the eyes, hoping the threat is going away.
    I believe, we will have to get to know China a lot better than we do now, because only then we will be able to establish a long lasting cooperation, within which we will be able to determine where we can benefit and what we should not do.
    We should also look at other economies that have work already succeessfully with China such as Japan.
    The other aspect is, as you pointed out, the impact 1.3 billion chinese people have on the environment. Here, China has to do better than the developed countries have done in their past. But this, again, is not going to happen by trying to ignore or fighting against.
    To me one thing is certain, if the world’s leading nations do not find a way to successfully address and ultimately solve the evironmental challenges caused by the growing world’s population, where China is going to be the most dominant single country, everybody worldwide will be affected, whether they do business with China or not.
    Even though, it is out of date and not everything became true, but the title of the first bok of the “club of Rome”, still appears to be current to me. “Limits of groth or groth without limits”
    (I am not sure, if that actually was the English title. In German it’s “Grenzen des Wachstums oder Wachstum ohne Grenzen” .
    I hope to see more of your essays and reports and that you keep wrking in the frontline.
    Thank you.

  • 42 KP CHEN // Sep 22, 2009 at 10:21 am

    About 10 years ago, I registered a website site,, it never truly had a webpage, nor a visitor, and it went expired.

    But, my hunch told me at that time, we are going to enter an expansionary (cultural broadband) era, characterized by multiplexed internet bandwidth, technological breakthroughs and exponential international money movements …

    Somehow, somewhat, someone seemed have opened the gate of Heavens (and Hell also probably).

    Internet turns many things upside down:

    The girls and boys next door, we unconsciously pass by, the anima and animus far away, show the colors of the rainbow.

    The sudden liquidity unleashed by finanical instruments, might mysteriously without our knowing, triggered the tsunami in India Ocean.

    Almost like reading the stories in our Old Testament.

    To meet the East, to face the East, we need to watch out and deal with the sudden opening of huge cultural liqudity … China’s opening to the West, went through, historically, many phases of costly (fatally) depressional and mania cycles …

    The processes are still going … albeit, slightly easier now.

    My own story is that, I used to read one book in Chinese, next I would read one in English. I normally picked the similar threads such that I would find the common denominationals.

    Common denominationals, vested in, the most humanitarian basic needs and wants, and of the most common people, Joe and Jane, are what I hope could be spelled out as initial future greenshots of this exchanges.

    That was totally the opposite of what Secreatry Paulson spelled out for us 3 years ago.

    Well, what do you think?

  • 43 jack iwema // Sep 22, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Tom, great articles and delivered to us at a great moment. We ought to stop carping about the Chinese and instead start learning their language, history, and culture. The U.S. has long stood for free trade and the free exchange of ideas. Free societies grow where freedom of trade flourishes so let’s get about the business of working with our new partners rather than eyeing them with jealous and small-minded thoughts. Enter the new economy with excitement!

  • 44 jack iwema // Sep 22, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Tom, great article and given to us at a great moment. Free societies grow where free trade flourishes so let’s get on with the business of growing with our partners rather than eyeing them with jealousy and small-mindedness. Enter the new economy with excitement. Let’s teach our people about their language, their culture, and their history. Michigan will only move forward when it embraces new ideas and new ways to do things. MORPH!

  • 45 Doreen Rosimos // Sep 22, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    As someone who owns several small businesses and employs about 250 people this thought comes to mind. When at a train track, we are all taught to “stop, look, listen” to avoid being hit by a train. That train in Michigan has come and Tom Watkins has been “flashing warning lights” for several years, he is a beacon trying desperately to help, when will the State officials, “stop, look and listen”?

  • 46 Zig Grutza // Sep 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    This is same -o same-o rhetoric about some emerging country eating our lunch. I went through this with the Japanese mfg emergence almost word for word and it won’t be the last time either with India , Africa and of course France. We have to treat them as a competitor and a poor one at that. US mfgrs can run circles around their quality and delivery as long as we avoid all the doom sayers. Right now I have two jobs on my desk from China that we have turned down ,no room and cost of maintaining this relationship. Kindest Regards Zig

  • 47 Robert Ficano // Sep 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    With world trade becoming increasingly global – China next to Canada and Mexico, has become a very important trading partner. It is very important we reach out to China to promote trade and investments. Wayne County has led four very successful trade missions to China and we are preparing for a fifth. I know there is sensitivity, but China isn’t going away. We don’t need to bury our heads in the sand like we did with Toyota. It’s now more important than ever to encourage and promote trade and investment. We need to encourage local businesses to seek joint ventures in China and encourage Chinese investments in this region.

  • 48 Bill Kalmar // Sep 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Tom continues to be that “bridge” he so eloquently speaks of between our nation and China! Without his passion for China and how its work force and culture could join with Michigan to enhance our state’s industry and production, there would be no voice heralding the advantages of such a relationship! As Tom mentioned in the column there is some progress at least in Oakland County where Mandarin Chinese is being taught in the schools. Eventually with Tom’s leadership the cultural bridge he speaks of will join our two countries and the benefit to Michigan will be tremendous! Great job, Tom!

    Bill Kalmar
    Former Director of the Michigan Quality Council

  • 49 Robert S. // Sep 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    It’s time to rebuild this great state and to put aside the negative politics that diminish us all. This may be a watershed moment – are we up to the challenge?

  • 50 dschroeter // Sep 22, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Let’s hope our leaders in the state are wired enough to read this spot on article. Too long in this state we’ve been worried about protecting jobs that are going away because the jobs are no longer relevant, not because China and India are stealing them. If we position ourselves correctly through providing our students with a 21st century education, establish effective trade policies and agreements and encourage the development of relevant 21st century businesses, the economic rise of China will provide a wonderful opportunity for MI to once again be powerful force in the US. Let’s just hope that our leaders are listening. If not, we’ll lose not to the Chinese but to other states!

  • 51 Dr. Linda Dale Bloomberg. Columbia University, NYC // Sep 22, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Tom Watkins once again thoughtfully and insightfully sheds light on the important connections between Michigan and China and the potential mutual benefits that recognition of these connections can bring. I applaud Tom for tirelessly and passionately championing collaboration, activism, education, and hard work in order to effect progress and development. His ongoing determination to raise awareness and bring about much-needed change — despite all the challenges we face — is indeed inspirational. Well done for a thought provoking essay !!

  • 52 William Arnold // Sep 23, 2009 at 5:47 am

    A tip of the hat to partnership vs paranoia, well done.

  • 53 Leroy Stephens // Sep 23, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Great in depth article. I always appreciate a person that looks at the logic of having a hand in the Chinese economy that is growing by leaps and bounds to help our state grow. Kudos to Tom.

  • 54 Evans Koukios // Sep 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Perhaps what Michiganders are worried about is that the China-Michigan relationship will not be a two way street. “Made in China” is ubiquitous on the products we see here in the U.S. “Made in Michigan” is, however, frightfully disappearing. We are continuously reading about job losses in manufacturing and its ripple effects. It’s not all political rhetoric. China as a competitor can be a formidable competitor that is not necessarily looking out for our interests. We probably need to broaden our horizons to the max, “Made in Michigan” for the world. China’s economy is large, but its not the only one with which to partner. Tom’s message, though, makes economic sense. Their market for goods and services is huge if we can successfully break into it.

  • 55 Tresa Zumsteg // Sep 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I agree with much of what Tom says here. Oakland Schools embraced the adoption of a new Chinese Language and Culture curriculum across all 28 Oakland County school districts in 2007 in partnership with the Oakland County Government. A number of Oakland Schools and district administrators and consultants journeyed to China, on our own dime, to observe their education system first-hand and see what we could glean from it that would be of value for our students.

    As educators, we must strike a balance between doing what is best for kids and pushing the limits of our curriculum and finances. From our visit, we learned how important it is to teach both language and culture when we teach not only Chinese, but all world languages. We have learned that we must go beyond the curriculum to build relationships between cultures. This is best achieved when we start with young people for whom thinking globally is part of their everyday life. They are immediately connected to information and friends across the globe as soon as they turn on a computer or television. Bringing them opportunities to connect in person through programs such as our new pilot, NextGen, is the next step.

    We are not naïve and do not expect that every interaction with different people, languages and cultures will always be successful. We do expect that every interaction is a learning experience that adds to our students’ repertoires and helps them take their rightful place in a global economy.

  • 56 Roi Chinn // Sep 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Tom you’re HIRED! I want you on my Michigan State Senate campaign team [winwithchinn]. Your global insight is what my grandfather envisioned when he left China in the early 1920′s for America. Today, China’s growth and prosperity can be shared and interconnected with America and Michigan. I find your articles to be very inspiring yet very practical. My grandfather settled in South San Francisco, a new frontier back then, his world view opened unlimited opportunity.

    Lansing career politicians may not listen but I hear you loud and clear, and 2010 will be the year of the people, the year we declare our own independence from the lansing politics that’s not working for us!

    I hope you dont mind I’ll be using your insight on the campaign trail (encouraging voters to read more of your articles and research) I look forward to meeting at the annual CAGD, AAGEN and CAPA celebrations…you cant miss me I’m the brown skinned (chinese and african-american) guy with the chinese name:)

  • 57 Gary Doyle // Sep 23, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    During my 16-year tenure with Bloomfield Hills Schools, I was very involved with the Oakland University China Consortium, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2011. Michigan, as Tom Watkins says, has extensive linkage with China, but no one seems to be taking advantage of all this groundwork. The connections are there, we just need the leadership! Excellent article, Tom.

  • 58 Bill Hammond // Sep 24, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Another lonely voice in the wilderness. Unfortunatley too few listen. Much of what he says in indisputable if you care about the Michigan economy. The concerted efforts of the Chinese on their own education and development are also obvious. When I was in grad school there were more Chinese students there than there were American students. While these people will definitely contribute to China’s business and educational advancement, the existance of tens or by now certainly hundreds of thousands of american educated Chinese nationals provides a ready raw material for the building of Watkins’s bridges. For now they are largely another opportunity squandered.

  • 59 Ken Beedle // Sep 24, 2009 at 5:10 am

    “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”

    Thomas Gray 1742

  • 60 Dr. Joe Rappa // Sep 24, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Tom Watkins has done it again! This article should be required reading for all state and national leaders, as well as all serious educators and politicians. Before we can resolve our economic crisis, we need to address our educational crisis. As we restructure our energy grid, we desperately need to address our educational grid. Whether it is Michigan or Massachusetts, the education systems are coming up short. While there have been several top level missions to China by our (Massachusetts) state leaders, there has been some backpeddling on our states high-standards-based education reform.

    We too lack a cogent and coordinated approach to dealing with China. There are several communities here that offer Chinese, but there is no state-wide plan for teaching Chinese or even economics. The 19th century thinking that still dominates our educational systems has to be replaced. Students in India, China and Korea are attending school for over 220 days a year. We are stuck at 180 and complaining. Tom offers many useful and important tips. As we prepare to build that bridge, let’s be sure we work to shore up the foundation on our side. It’s an urgent task that needs to be undertaken.

  • 61 Steve Zhong // Sep 24, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Great article which given us a lot of true information about today China. Almost all Chinese try to understand America, but there are a few people in USA try to understand China. That is why Tom is struggling to build a bridge betwen America and China. A old Chinese words: you are never defeated if understand each other deeply. Let’s give a hand to help Tom doing the significant project.

  • 62 L. Brooks Patterson // Sep 24, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I would have posted a comment earlier, but I had to decide what to read first: War and Peace or Tom Watkins’ essay on China. I read War and Peace and am waiting for the Bridge to China to come out on video.

    Just kidding my prolific friend, Tom Watkins. Obviously, he writes passionately about all things China. It’s been a life long addiction for Tom: to study, research, and understand the history and mores of this fascinating culture. His addiction is infectious. It was Tom’s prodding that led me, in turn, to encourage all 28 school districts in Oakland County to undertake the instruction of Mandarin in our public schools in Oakland County. (I’m delighted to report 26 of the 28 districts are so engaged.)

    Tom’s essay brings an important and unique perspective to our relationship with China: what it is and what it could be. His experience, his nearly two dozen trips to China spanning the decades, have really lit the path well for the rest of us to follow. There’s education, there’s trade, there’s strategic alliances waiting to be developed and enjoyed. Tom makes a good case, based upon years of love and devotion to his China addiction, why we in Oakland County, Michigan, and the United States should embrace warmly the opportunities that await us–and the Chinese people as well–as we develop the nascent relationships that Tom has helped forge. Good job, Tom. Great essay. Now onto the Iliad.

  • 63 V. Bucciere // Sep 24, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Fascinating reading, remarkable efforts to help move this great state onward and upward. Congratulations to all.

  • 64 koralo // Sep 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    What does China mean to Michigan ? Ask our own Ford, GM, Chrysler, Amway, Kellogg , UM, MSU, WSU and …. GM does not do well domestically, but has been the No 1 best seller in the China market. As China grows, it creates more actual opportunities for Michigan, Tom’s article tells this. The great lake state with the new Delta direct Shanghai Detroit flight has great potential to be another Hawaii or Las Vegas to the increasing Chinese travelers. Michigan needs to join GM to participate the 2010 world Fair in Shanghai to show up there and earn our fair share of opportunities.

  • 65 Jack McHugh // Sep 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    A question citizens should ask is why the state’s political class whines and blames China for our decline. What is their incentive, if as Mr. Watkins suggests the economic incentives are to do just the opposite?

    Once asked the question answers itself: The excessive political power of unions in this state makes it necessary for our politicians to kowtow to them in the form of such whining and blame-shifting, just as President Obama kowtowed in the form of tire tariffs that threaten to become this century’s Smoot-Hawley trade war trigger.

    Incidentally, Greg Main, the head of Michigan’s so-called “economic development” bureaucratic empire, recently joined the whine-chorus in a Wall Street Journal letter-to-the-editor.

    In seeking to distract readers from the substance of the Journal’s critique of the MEDC – that its selective subsidy and targeted tax break programs have been a complete failure at reviving Michigan’s economy – Main cited “global competition” as one reason for Michigan’s loss of 500,000 manufacturing jobs. Of course he ignored the fact that other U.S. states have added such jobs during the same period that Michigan was losing ours.

  • 66 John Lawrence // Sep 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I share in your frustration with as this bridge cannot be built soon enough. Our legislators need to focus on the budget earlier so these matters of great importance can be dealt with to everyones benefit. Let the anti-China people keep kicking up their heals as it will be they who will wake up one morning and find their jobs and assets taken over by the Chinese. I see this as a giant tsunami that is headed our way and it can’t be stopped. We’re already seeing waves, not ripples, on the water lapping at our coastlines. Thanks Tom for continuing to beat this drum.

  • 67 Trey Fabacher // Sep 24, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Tom, let me know when the video does come out, I will join L. Brooks at the viewing. One of the books that impacted me most was “The World is Flat” by Tom Friedman. This book really redefined globalization for a new century of thinkers and made me realize that that my kids and their kids will grow up in a different world and one where foreign languages must not be foreign anymore.
    The next big China lesson for me came from Carol Cain and Tom Watkins in initial discussions about doing a special on China. As General Manager of WWJ-TV, I had to be sure that we could present both sides of the story and also present great television. The decision for me was easy and those discussions culminated in the two hour special that Tom mentions in his article, “Building Bridges; from the Great Lakes to the Great Wall,” which aired on WWJ-TV in late 2007. I came to realize many solutions to our problems here in Michigan can be attacked by flourishing relations with China. Our special received national praise and was awarded six Emmy Awards.
    Tom has made it his mission in life to study and speak about the opportunities we have in relations with China. Many of his questions are addressed in this two hour special.
    I invite you to visit our web site at and select “Eye On The Future” where we have kept this special available online since its initial airing. It will not only educate you, but also illustrate the stunning video our Emmy award winning photojournalist, Paul Pytlowany, was able to capture. If you have read Tom’s article, whether you agree with his position or not, I guarantee you that this special will be worth the viewing.

  • 68 Oshin Demirjian // Sep 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Tom, you have great ideas in your article, smart people can take the advantage .. Good job

  • 69 td // Sep 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I love what they are doing in Macomb County — nice job Geiligham — but, but…. Watkins you need to understand that while chang emay be good in the LONG run, a lot of people need help in the short run. People care about what happens to them and their neighbors, not a vague national trend. So yes, lets embrace the change to engage China but lets help our neighbors prepare for that change.

  • 70 Tom Swigart // Sep 24, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    After reviewing Tom’s article and the 70 or so comments as of this time, might I be accurate in characterizing the globalization challenge (China or otherwise) at minimum as: complex and confusing; having many unanswered questions and issues; impacting many diverse interests, some of which are at odds with each other and; in need of real, near-term progress? In some ways, it rarely gets any better than this. I expect that the respondents to this article are only a small sliver of those involved and motivated at a level where they may wish to be part of the solution. Motivated, involved people can accomplish amazing things, given the proper opportunity and context. For this, I would suggest some of the innovative methods being applied within the futurist and organizational development communities.

    If I have aroused anyone’s curiosity, I can send a link or two.

  • 71 Chun Zhou // Sep 24, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Tom Watkins has deep understanding of China’s rise and its impact to Americans. Tom passionately promotes building bridge to China to help Michigan rebuild economy for the better future of Michigan people. I hope the leaders of the state can listen to him, explore the opportunities working with China. Tom, we are with you.

  • 72 Greg Olszta // Sep 25, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Tom Watkins is clearly Michigan’s unofficial ambassador to China, and it’s most outspoken cheerleader on the imporatance of “building bridges” between that nation and our state. Tom’s prodigious output on China, and many things, is even more impressive when you consider that it’s all written with his thumbs on his Blackberry! Seriously, thank you Tom for your leadership and commitment to expanding our awareness of the current and future importance of China to Michigan’s evolving economy and workforce.

  • 73 qualityg // Sep 25, 2009 at 7:10 am

    For some reason I can not get the picture out of my mind of the governor ranting and raving a bunch of nothing a few years back at her state of the state address.

    I said then and I say now we have no plan, no direction and most of all no AIM!

    Mr. Watkins has been a lone wolf for a good number of years writing many articles on the importance of Michigan getting involved with China on many different fronts for the betterment of our state.

    And guess what? He has layed the groundwork for plans and actions that go unheard by most of our elected officials.

    All of our current budget proposals and potential solutions are reactionary. Mr. Watkins provides hope and aim for long-term partnerships with one of the world’s largest economy.

    I would like to see Mr. Watkins invited to the High School Economic classes in our state so the next generation of leaders can realize how important it is for the State of Michigan to get involved in the world economy.

  • 74 George Xu // Sep 25, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Whining is easy, but building is not so. It require leaders with a vision, wisdom, determination and hardworking. I hope the leaders in Michigan share Tom’s vision and start to build the “bridge” to help Michigan people to benefit from China rising.

    Tom mentioned the opportunity in the area of environment/pollution, If one look closely, there are many other opportunities that can benefit Michigan economy. A few example: Michigan has a lot of beautiful golf courses and world famous lakes, it also have many well developed ski resorts. These valuable natural resource can be better utilized with some promotion to attract Chinese tourist; Michigan is also rich in automotive talents and technologies which are badly needed in China; Michigan has a lot of bilingual professionals who were born in China but live and work in Michigan. These professionals love to see prosperous in Michigan and love to see China catch up with the developed countries of the world. They can be one “good element” to build the bridge. As the development of Chinese economy, more and more Chinese companies grow ambitions to invest outside of China. Why not in Michigan?

    It should also be mentioned that many people from outside of China have difficulties to see China from a broad view, just as the story of “blind people feel/see elephant”. While world media focus on China, people astonished about the rising of China but fail to see the majority of Chinese people (more than 800 million of them) are still live in extreme poverty in any western standard. There are a lot of opportunity exist for Michigan to benefit by participating in the process of China’s effort to catch up with the developed countries, at the meantime help more Chinese people get out of the poverty life.

  • 75 Dave Lambert // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for the informative article. I appreciate the efforts of Tom Watkins and Brooks Patterson to make Oakland County a leader in building bridges to China. Our nation has vital differences with the military, human rights, and trade policies of the Chinese government that cannot and should not be ignored. However, that should not prevent us from working to improve economic and educational ties with the people of China.

  • 76 Stanley Zhou // Sep 25, 2009 at 11:33 am

    It is really good article!

    I like it’s title ” Start building”. It is obvious that Chinese pretty like American culture, education, travel resources etc.. Michigan owned good education system, attractive travel resources and fantastic auto industries foundation. We really need to have a brainstorm and consolidate a efficient team, let’s deal with China ASAP. China is booming right now, Michigan needs to catch up this wave!

  • 77 Sara Watson // Sep 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    You go, Tom! Thanks especially for mentioning the importance of early educaton to get kids ready – if we don’t start them off right, we’re all in trouble.

  • 78 Michiair // Sep 25, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Mr. Watkins is right. Whining is not working. Whether we like it or not, China (and world) is marching forward. It is true that there are a lot of problems in China, labor, environment, currency, intellectual property etc.. But they are not the problem we can solve by whining. I doubt the Chinese government can solve them quickly if it wants to. Can our Michigan families handle increased prices on their purchases in store if Chinese raise the value of their currency therefore products are more expensive? Michigan economy is declining quickly. Instead of dragging on the ‘good old days’ we need to move on and look for new opportunities, especially in China. Some rich Chinese people are skeptical on their government policies. They are looking for investment opportunities oversea. Michigan should provide incentive to attract these investments. It will create jobs here. Back in 1997, after China took over Hong Kong, a lot of money flew into Toronto and Vancouver which resulted big boost for local economy. We may learn something from them.

  • 79 anita mitchell // Sep 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Enjoyed the very insightful article by T. Watkins on China.
    His writing leads the reader to an up close perspective not only on China but where the US should be putting emphasis…on resources and education

  • 80 Jeb Bush // Sep 25, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Tom, your thoughts on China are incredibly insightful. What kind of China will exist in ten years will depend on our engagement with them. How states and regions and our country progress in the next decade will depend on the relationship with countries like China. Your advocacy of a deeper engagement for Michigan with China makes all the sense in the world.

    Jeb Bush

  • 81 zheng // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Building education and business relationship helps create a win-win situation for both countries. However, it requires relentless efforts to change minds and policies on both sides. Constant and meaningful dialogues are essential in this process. It’s important to have people like Tom who can be the liaison between the two countries.

  • 82 Judith Burnley // Sep 26, 2009 at 10:17 am

    According to U.S. News and Report this week, Michigan ranks highest in the country for its numbers of unemployed, marginally employed and discouraged workers who are no longer even counted in the labor force. People are desperate and we’ve got to do something here other than hope and pray for another unemployment extension. If a strategic action plan can be developed to tap into the billions and billions China has to invest that will fuel our own economic rise, then I say this is a no-brainer. What exactly are we waiting for?

  • 83 KP CHEN // Sep 26, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Tom & all:

    If our U.S. Governments (along with Chinese Governments) invest 1 Billion Dollars in 100 largest cities in U.S., vest the efforts in that Digital-to-Analog Converter, and in industries we have great current needs and anticipate great future demands ….

    With the expectation that we shall bring positive benefits and susrainable results for all citizens.

    Believe me, we could take off the entire country to the new high, and in the right direction.

    Cost is only about 100 Billions.

    Compare to our deficits, they are really about nothing.

    In the past, economics is named as Political Economy.

    This post illustrates the point.

    100 Billions to save U.S.A.

    I know we can get the jobs done.

    Invest 1 Billion Dollars in 100 largest cities in U.S., vest the efforts in that Digital-to-Analog Converter, incites us like-minded, and in industries we have great current needs and future demands ….

    100 Billions thus spent is the way of way to save U.S.A.

  • 84 Dave Campbell // Sep 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Another insightful article by Tom Watkins…no surprise there. His football analogy under “Stop
    Whining” is outstanding. Too many people in our state act like we have a right to win. The sooner we learn, as a state, that we are not entitled to anything, but need to work for everything, the sooner we will recover. As a Superintendent of Schools, I see the result of laziness and the entitlement mentality very often. It is time for Michigan to join this century’s economy, rather than hoping the 70′s will return. But, hey, if the 70′s come back, we’ll be ready.

  • 85 Jim Dehem // Sep 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I’ve worked in the field of disabilities and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tom Watkins for over 30 years. He took over a struggling human services agency right out of school before he could barely walk (notice I didn’t say talk!). He then went on a political course, became the youngest Director of the State of Michigan Mental Health Department, left after the 1991 change in Governors for Florida where he was a vital influence in commerce and then returned to become the Michigan State Superintendent of Schools. Everything Tom has ever done has been with a tenacious grasp of doing what is right and good for all of whom he represented regardless of the risk that position brought him. He is an outstanding advocate for all citizens of Michigan and shows courage above politics and self-preservation.

    Recently, I took him to the opening of a small barrier free home in Westland that was built through a HUD grant awarded to LibertyHill Housing Corporation, a non-profit Wayne County organization dedicated to developing affordable housing. I saw the same “kid in a candy shop” image he describes of himself when he explores China. This time, I knew his glee was to see the differences that have come over the last thirty years since he saw similar people with disabilities in wheelchairs wasting their lives away in public institutions. As the Mental Health Director, he led a critical effort in policy making to close them. I also saw him as State Superindtent of Schools advocate for kids with disabilities to be included in their own neighborhood schools with their peers so that children of today have stronger and supportive relatinships with their classmates who happen to have differences.

    Tom needs to be listened to and highly regarded for his insight and leadership. Although far from being an expert in global economics, I am greatly involved in how the state of Michigan is currently struggling to provide for the needs of our chidren, people who need public support for disabilities, our growing number of seniors and returning soldiers with permanent injuries. We face the worse ecomony I can remember and we need to think differently, outside of the box and with the same determination that Tom has shown in his career for citizens of this state.

  • 86 Sergio Garcia // Sep 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    There is nothing more detrimental to the economy and people of Michigan than to have two parties bicker and fight over the obvious, China is real! The rest of the world stopped being a Wanna Be America awhile ago, it’s just that no one noticed in the USA.
    While we talk in the USA, China is planning for their future growth. They are working with countries that want to work with them. What is sad is that Americans do not realize that China and its people like America and Americans.

    They want to work together with the USA, as each one country needs the other and together both benefit. It is time to wake up before China creates bridges and partnerships with the rest of the world and the USA is left out.

  • 87 Liz Bauer // Sep 26, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    There is a new world order. Everyone in the world has the potential to be a player. Technology bridges cultural, language, and physical barriers. Access to information is instant. Decisions are made quickly via networks. Not only China, but all countries of the world are inextricably linked. Leaders are well aware of advances in education and industry worldwide. Those who have embedded their knowledge in plans with specific goals and measurable objectives are moving their societies forward.
    In 2006 I was in Beijing and heard the Deputy Minister of Education present China’s Plan for Education 2010. It is ambitious. They are working their plan. The Chinese know that education for all is essential to domestic harmony, productivity, and international leadership. They are moving deliberately to assure that all students are prepared for purposeful engagement in the world. We would do well to take notice and act with equal determination.
    My hope is that we will cease the anti-China rhetoric in Michigan and embrace our common humanity, hopes, and dreams. We can learn much from one another and working collaboratively can achieve much as well.

    Tom Watkins has been sounding the clarion call regarding Michigan’s relationship with China for years. It is time for this “prophet” to be heard in his own land.

  • 88 Peter Bittel // Sep 27, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I found Tom Watkins recent article about China gripping. The arguments he presents leaves me with the ongoing head theme: “ why aren’t we doing that?”

    He uses ongoing examples of some straightforward arguments: the world and the economy are connected yet we continue to manage and operate as if we are in silos.

    We should be changing our behavior but our own self interests seem to maintain our inertia but done the American way “ inertia with whining.”

    Thanks for such a fine article.

    Peter J. Bittel, Ed.D.
    Chief Executive Officer
    The Futures HealthCore
    Springfield, MA 01105

  • 89 sara jane whitey // Sep 27, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Congratulations for finally writing what many here are thinking. We need to embrace China and not be afraid!
    Michigan can benefit in so many ways from reaching out to this gigantic country. Tom Watkins is dead on in what he says.
    Four Stars to the author!

  • 90 KP CHEN // Sep 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    If you truly think about it, Tom’s “Bridge to China” is about having a better Globalization in general, and a betetr Michigan in particular.

    Globalization has been going on for a while; in short, the last decade can be summaried as the expansion of Western Financial Systems to exchange for the expansion of Eastern Industrial Systems.

    With winners and losers, of course.

    What about the next waves.

    Let us exaggerate that Tom’s artcles is a watershed event that herralds the coming of Globalization 2.0.

    Is there a macro theme, that can broadly capture the nect decade’s theme?

    Can we set off Glob. 2.0 with a sustainable, medium term, and long term economic model?

    If yes, what should be the themes, plans, measures and programmes?

    Can we marry those aspirations with Obama/Biden Stimulus Packages?

    How to run Globalization 2.0 peacefully, genuinely, productively in domestic fronts and still align ourselves with the needs of our strategic long term developments.

    Globalization 2.0 shall bring us what, after seeing a Web 2.0 has already brought us Google
    and many wonderful others.

  • 91 Sandra B. // Sep 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    After visiting China with American administrators on two separate occasions, it is obvious that China will become (if not already) a dominating force in the world. It is imperative to implement Mandarin language and Chinese culture into our schools. In the future, today’s students will be interacting with the Chinese on a regular basis. Understanding their culture and bridging the gap between the United States and China will help the U.S. continue to be a global force.

  • 92 Jeff Perlman // Sep 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Tom Watkins is a visionary thinker with tremendous insights.
    One of the biggest dangers facing Michigan, my state of Florida and America is our inability to face the truth about our changing world and economy.
    Clinging to a status quo that no longer works or pining away from an America that no longer exists is a recipe for fiscal and spiritual disaster.
    Instead, we must seek to engage the world, invest in education and new technologies and pour our national resources into innovation.
    Tom “calls out” politico’s who seek to stay in office by stoking fears and issues a strong call to action. The question is will anyone listen?
    In my own community of Palm Beach County, Florida we have a dearth of leadership and a mindset that the good old days will return soon if we can just hold on.
    Florida has not adapted to the new realities and is falling behind. Our potential is to be a gateway for trade, a beacon of green technologies and an international leader in bioscience thanks to Jeb Bush’s vision which has been squandered by local leaders, the legislature and a governor whose personal political ambitions have trumped everything else.
    Michigan’s challenge is to reinvent its manufacturing prowess and lead America and the world in the 21st century. Tom’s insights provide a strong framework to start.

  • 93 Paul Gieleghem // Sep 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    As the the former State School Superintendent, I admired Tom for continuously voicing the mantra, “show me how this helps students learn
    and teachers teach.” Tom is now reminding us that we need to be about helping our businesses grow and our communities prosper. Describing China as an emerging market really means, China has the capital to both consume and invest. Our Macomb County Department of
    Planning and Economic Development is out working with businesses every day. Part of our efforts must be to expand the market for the products our companies make. But we recognize that competing globally is about more than just a great business plan. In Macomb County our efforts are evolving to include all facets of our community: business to business, government to government, K-12 school to school, higher education and non-profit cultural exchanges. By building mutually beneficial relationship we begin to raise our understanding of the world and expand our opportunities for growth.

    Please visit Macomb County Planning & Economic
    Development Department at .

  • 94 C. Peter Theut // Sep 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Tom Watkins, an acknowledged expert on China, has done it again. In fact, Watkins has done it again, again and again by persistently and convincingly urging the powers to be in Michigan to aggressively pursue business and cultural opportunities with China.

    It has been my privilege to head the China Practice at Butzel Long for many years. I have visited China over 50 times and in my forty-seven years of practicing international law have not experienced anything remotely resembling the unprecedented opportunity that exists today in dealing openly and pragmatically with China. From the historical standpoint, China’s rise should not be surprising. Seventy-five percent of the time we have been on this planet, China has been the number one civilization. The worldwide economic crisis merely slowed the Chinese appetite for investment in the West. The very nature of the Chinese government ( which certainly can be justifiably criticized on Western standards) has been precisely the type government that has allowed China to emerge from the worldwide economic malaise more quickly than any other country. China is perhaps the only major power in the world today that has cash and there is no state in the Union that needs cash more than Michigan. The PRC is increasingly encouraging Chinese companies to invest in the West. With the current state of the U.S. Automotive Industry, China is particularly interested in investing in Michigan. In the last two years we have been retained by inbound Chinese companies on over 50 matters. Such matters are now increasing on a near weekly basis.

    As referenced in Tom’s article, Chinese interest in Michigan is hindered by a number of phenomena. There is a strong perception in China that the State of Michigan is simply not interested in China. For instance, there are persistent rumors that Michigan will soon close its office in Shanghai. Even considering the budget constraints in Michigan it is difficult to understand how this could be under consideration in light of the unprecedented opportunity described in Tom’s article, the significant number of comments supporting Tom’s essay and the myriad of articles in magazines and newspapers that are published every day worldwide describing the resolve of China to invest in the West. With respect to encouraging Chinese investment into Michigan, Tom’s criticism that trade missions from this State are “haphazard with no strategic focus or follow-through to produce the desired results” is right on the money. Tom correctly states that encouraging Chinese businesses to invest in Michigan cannot be accomplished by a “series of one night stands”. Success in this endeavor requires focus. Visiting China every two years will not get the job done when competing states are sending far more regular delegations that, in most instances, are led by Governors. The culture of China is such that titles are extremely important. Three visits by a Mayor or a County Executive is not as likely to be as effective as a single visit from a Governor! Further, it is far more effective to focus on a Western Chinese city like Chonquing (city population 16 million, metro population 34 million) and visit that city twice a year, than to arrange for a junket to visit seven Chinese cities in seven days and not return to any one of them for perhaps a year!

    Territorialism is common throughout the world–internationally, nationally and locally. But Michigan’s perceived territorialism is particularly fascinating to the Chinese because there is no overall coordination of the various and sundry delegations traveling from China to Michigan on an irregular basis. As pointed out in Tom’s article and supported in the comments, we must establish a coordinating entity in Michigan that organizes our delegations to China in such a way that they are not perceived as county versus county or region versus region, but as touting Michigan as a whole. Toward that end, we have established two entities that are headquartered in Ann Arbor. China Bridge is specifically designed to bring Chinese investment into Michigan and to assist Michigan companies in generating revenue in China that can be brought back into the State. Global Community Outreach provides humanitarian aid to remote parts of the world commencing in Western China. We invite the State, the MEDC, local governments and the private sector to work with us to establish the coordinating body described in Tom’s article. Tom Watkins can and should chair a coalition meeting and lead the charge to get this done before Michigan losses further ground to our competing states.

    Nothing stated above should be interpreted to denigrate the tremendous efforts being made by Brooks Patterson of Oakland County, Bob Ficano of Wayne County, the Detroit Regional Chamber, Paul Geileghem of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, the Detroit Business Association, the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit and others mentioned in Tom’s article who fully appreciate the opportunity available to Michigan by doing business with China and who have done a remarkable job in pursuing Chinese investment into Michigan. Wayne State, Michigan State and the University of Michigan also should be congratulated for doing their part by establishing Confucious Institutes in Michigan and interfacing regularly and effectively with their respective Chinese University counterparts. I am certain that these local governmental entities and universities endorse Tom’s persistent admonition that we need a “Michigan plan that is cognizant of the needs of the regions, counties and cities in Michigan as part of an attractive whole”.

    The tragedy of the current disorganized approach of Michigan to China is that when the Chinese do come to Michigan for business or pleasure , the visitors are stunned by what Michigan has to offer. What is particularly appealing about Michigan to the Chinese is the hard-working, friendly and talented nature of our people, the caliber of our university system, the comfort of interacting with the significant number of Chinese working and studying here, the general quality of life, and a physical beauty that is unmatched in the United States. Nothing sells Michigan like the “Pure Michigan” ad campaign that is the envy of our neighboring states. Michigan’s “helping hand” ads are also effective. I respectfully suggest that Michigan join the rest of the world and seriously explore China related opportunities by (1) preparing Mandarin versions of our excellent ads, (2) appointing a “czar” to coordinate our various China trade delegations and (3) organizing a “Pure Michigan” delegation to China led by our Governor. Tom’s persistent efforts to persuade the powers that be to move forward are much appreciated. Stay tuned!

    C. Peter Theut
    China Bridge

  • 95 Robin Dale // Sep 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    When you want to build a bridge, it’s good to have both old and young members on your design committee. The old bring experience and wisdom, and the young bring refreshing new concepts and dynamic.

    As a 4th generation China hand I have relationships and understanding. When Michigan gets serious and listens to the clear and insightful voice of Tom Watkins, I will be glad to participate, if called on.

    A bridge to China can only be built between those who actually care for each other. So the first and most critical part of the structure must be an understanding of each others culture etc.. This will be the hardest part for both sides. I have spent half of my life in the Greater China area and half in the U.S. and Europe.

    Details of my exploits and history etc. can be found in depth at

    Go Michigan !

  • 96 Rocco Pollifrone // Sep 28, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Tom, as usual your article is very informative and provocative all at the same time. I agree with your premise the Chinese economy will lead the world in 10 to 20 years. In addition the India market is another area the US and Michigan can play a significant role. Both countries with over 1 billion people each, have the potential to lead the world in economic growth just by marketing their product to themselves.

    I talked at the SAE conference in Chicago back in 2007, the title of my piece “North American Manufacturing Can Be Profitable”. If you look at automotive projected vehicle volume in the year 2020, worldwide volume will go from 63 million vehicle in 2005 to estimated 97 million in 2020. Most of the increase will come from China, India and Eastern Europe while Western Europe, North America & Japan will have no growth. That’s 34 Million vehicle increase in capacity, a 50% increase over 2005 volume’s. And I ask who has the know how to design and build that much capacity, efficiently and with clean technology? I’m sure the great people from the state of Michigan can help. China’s automotive industry alone will need to build 55 high volume assembly plants by the year 2020 just to feed their internal consumers. Michigan professionals are well suited to participate in that growth.

    Somewhere along the line we Americans have come to believe and rely on Government bodies to take care of us. It just infuriates me to no end when I hear and read about people and business looking to the State or Washington for help. History show us that more Government only slows economic expansion not help it. In fact if you look at China, they began their unprecedented growth when the Communists allowed private businesses to grow! Agreed with need to be innovative, creative, and we need to improve and expand our educational system. These are givens for all societies to survive in the global economy. I think where we may differ is how best to deliver the stated objectives. If you look at American and all the wonderment it has brought to itself and the world, it’s the brilliance of the 54 founding fathers and the limited republic they crafted that produced the results. As we mature as a country and water down those freedoms, and our government tighten its control over all aspects of our lives, our economic engine is slowing down.

    Tom, the Chinese have studied America and realized the formula for economic success is less government. Since they implemented the plan there economy has grown by double digits for 20 years. I can only hope that we American do learn from the Chinese and our founding father and start to eliminate the suffocating policies of both the state and federal governments. I have faith in American ingenuity and determination we are a strong willed culture and will continue to lead as required.

  • 97 Lin Zhang // Sep 28, 2009 at 6:03 am

    Once again, Mr. Watkins voices his concerns about lack of strategic directions by the State in benefiting from the rising of China. Hopefully more, especially state officials, realize that Michigan cannot afford to wait any longer. It’s time to stop non-sense political rhetoric and start to “get in the game” to develop and execute strategies in education, investment, and business to have Michigan benefit from perhaps soon to be the largest economy in the world. Otherwise, we probably will really be left behind.

  • 98 Barbara Gattorn // Sep 28, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Three little words: Get over it! It sums up Tom’s thesis in this great essay. We remember how the auto industry dismissed Dr W Edwards Deming’s advice on competing with the Japanese auto companies. Tom is sounding the same alarm for Michigan for ignoring building alliances with China.

    Memo to next Michigan governor: Design and implement a statewide strategic economic development imperative with China (also, by the way, India and Brazil)

  • 99 R. Myers // Sep 28, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hello! Is anybody listening to Mr. Watkins? His insight into this issue is priceless. With the current economic times in America and especially in Michigan, we must start moving in new directions and China is definitely a direction to contend with. Thanks to Mr. Watkins for continuing to bring this issue to the forefront and investing his time and effort to help keep us informed and up to date on where our economy should be investing for the future.

  • 100 JuJuan C. Taylor PhD // Sep 28, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    No one…NO ONE is more informative about China than Tom Watkins. We are indeed most fortunate that Mr. Watkins lives in Michigan, and shares his brilliancy about this great country, so freely.
    Dr. JuJuan C. Taylor
    Department Chair
    Communication Arts
    Schoolcraft College

  • 101 Martha McNeal // Sep 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Tom Watkins is, as always, thoughtful, inspiring and thinking outside the box. We need more leaders like Tom to bring fresh ways of looking at business and the world. Thank you, Tom!

  • 102 Richard Holzman // Sep 28, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    As usual Tom Watkins demonstrates in his lucid writing a comprehensive grasp of economic issues with China and the U.S. and Michigan in particular. Hopefully his work will serve to energize our people so that our creativity and 0ur democratic values will lead China and other nations in addressing the interrelated problems of war , overpopulation,depletion of natural resources and pollution.

  • 103 Larry Huang // Sep 29, 2009 at 5:39 am

    I couldn’t agree more with Tom. It is mutually beneficial to Michigan (US) and China if we set our minds open when it comes to economic and social changes in China. Does it have to be job outsourcing? Does it have to be lower human rights standard? Why are we so naïve as American?

    I have lots of personal contacts in China who are honest and hard-working small business owners (just like those in Michigan) and are very eager to learn America and to import manufacturing equipment and technology (joint venture or purchase). But they are too small to have the international background and resources to build a bridge to Michigan, the automotive and manufacturing capital in the planet. Those small businesses sell their products in Chinese market and if and when they are capable to come to US, they will most likely come to invest where they already have partner.

    This calls for more people and Michigan companies to reach out and bridge the gap between small businesses in the two countries.

  • 104 Chris Atkinson // Sep 29, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I lived and worked in China for the last 3 years
    with my family.. we saw the ‘Real China’ not a tour or a book to read.
    I loved the experience and the people were very friendly but it also reinforeced the love I have for the most beautiful place in the World… Michigan. It is incredible and we need to sell and share with the world.
    I traveled and worked in many of the cities of China and it was a rare site to see an American.
    why are we so out of touch? fear?? distance???
    The World is changing fast and we are only vaguely aware what is going on out there. I traveled to Vietnam, Thailand, Bali, Mylasia .. all over Asian and saw US Presidential debates on the front page of every newspaper.. The news is more important than their local government affairs. They admire the democratic process we embrace as a American Culture.. Our Presidential election demonstrated that we are open minded and can transfer power with guns and violence.. Look around the World and you will see how rare that really is. We are more open to diversity and respect others than anybody in the World.. of the scale and opportunities that we can embrace.. I saw many others from Japan, Korea, Africa, Australia, Germany, Britian … all there onsite in China and establishing business relationships with over one billion business partners and customers. Their growth has just started. Most still walk to work or ride a bike The young love American Culture (Starbucks, …) and have a desire to enjoy life and look good while driving their own car. .. The place is amazing and they want to be friends with America.. this is a huge opportunity.
    I pray Michigan does a better job with China in 2009 than it did with Japan in 1970′s.. They want to be our friends and business partners.
    Embrace and engage our new friends from China

  • 105 Tom White // Sep 29, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Mr. Watkin’s essay is lively, readable, and on point. Bravo. Obviously many thoughtful people agree with him. How can we harness and use the wisdom of this message? Business leaders need to “get it” and convey the message to this, or the next, governor. There is much to be gained by a strategic and strong relationship with China…it makes sense for so many reasons. Another thought is to continue bringing Chinese language and cultural exchange to Michigan. Going to China will change your life and views. Bringing Chinese language and cultural background to students in Michigan will change our future. The Confucius Institute at Michigan State has programs and services for teaching Chinese language and culture in K-12. It’s a start. But we all need to tell the story to our friends and neighbors. There is no doubt that China is an emerging super-power; and may be the only true super-power besides the US in the next 10 years. The Chinese have adopted their own form of capitalism and that is the engine driving them now. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle. We can only plan thoughtfully for the future. The Chinese are open to us. Let’s build a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship for Michigan and the U.S. I hope Mr. Watkins continues his writing and creates a way in which we all can harness the support for his perspective that he has unleashed.

  • 106 Billie Nagi // Sep 29, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Tom, what a great article!!! It makes you think about the progression that China has made over the years! As always your writing/articles are very informative and give us food for thought. Thank you as we do learn a lot for them!

  • 107 Mike Rush // Sep 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    To the expert on China ……… a job well done! It is difficult to foresee much change coming unless we first see dramatic changes in the political arena. This will take continued efforts by knowlegdeable folks like you …. keep up the good work. Also thought your points about China learning from us was right on too! It can be a win win!!

  • 108 bill joyner // Sep 30, 2009 at 5:26 am

    Unfortunately talk often is a one way street. Good ideas get posted, posited and positioned and then those who feel threatened eventually poison.

    It would be such a breath of fresh air if the ideas and suggestions posted in reaction to Tom Watkins would be aired out in public and debated in every community in Michigan.

    We are establishing an elite thinking class of folks in Michigan–but until the candidates running for office who are seeking the lowest common denominator to getting elected decide to pay attention to the ideas of Tom Watkins or David Brandon–regardless of party or independence then we have only accomplished another layer of class structure, those with power, those seeking power and those who want to use power to change the dominant paradigm.

  • 109 doug smith // Sep 30, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Tom brings a unique insight into one of the most promising opportunities we have…
    Chinese – American relations. The future is limitless if we could get these two giants on the same page. As a developing nation, we should be helping them grow, but our national angst would have us find them an enemy, how sad. Tom’s call to have educational and business ties is the bridge we need to build. China through its low cost goods has been a substantial part of our quality of life for years, now our ability to share technology with them to serve their people and modernize should be the foundation for a shared future. Thanks Tom.

  • 110 George Moroz // Sep 30, 2009 at 7:57 am

    For several years, I have been working on a “China Strategy” for The Henry Ford (“America’s Greatest History Attraction”). As Michigan’s leading cultural tourism destination hosting some 1.5 million visitors each year, 10% of whom are international visitors, we appreciate the promise and potential of the rapidly expanding Chinese tourist market and what that can mean, if properly cultivated, for The Henry Ford and Michigan’s economy. I was also aware that there was no unified or coordinated state approach or strategy targeted to China in which we could embed our own tourism attraction interests and efforts. I did, however, have the chance to travwel to Shanghai last November, along with the head of Travel Michigan and a representative of the Metro Detroit Visitor and Convention Bureau, to attend a major outbound China tourism exposition. But prior to making that trip, the first such trip by a member of The Henry Ford, I hosted a meeting at the museum to which I had invited a number of individuals from organizations and political entities who were pursuing their own China agendas. Representatives from Wayne and Oakland Counties Executive and Economic Development Offices were invited, as well as officials from the MDCVB, Northwest Airlines, Travel Michigan, Michigan State University, and independent Chinese tour operators. My good friend, Tom Watkins, was also invited and attended that meeting. The main message I delieverd at that gathering echoed some of Tom’s injunctions in this current article; namely, we all have our respective interests in China, but we can all best achieve our individual and respective objectives if we know about, endorse and support each others’ China initiatives as we pursue our own. So, while at the Shanghai tourism trade expo, we not only touted the virtues of The Henry Ford as a Chinese tourism destination, but also NWA’s (now Delta’s) expanding non-stop flight schedule between China and Detroit Metro Airport, and Wayne and Oakland Counties as prime economic investment sites.

    (While in China, I also traveled to Beijing to meet with the Chairman and Board of the International Creative Industries Alliance, at the suggestion and encouragement of John Howkins, famed author of The Creative Economy, to get a glimpse of how China’s creative industries are promoting innovation throughout the Chinese economy—-something that should have particular relevance for us here in SE Michigan. We have much to offer to the Chinese in terms of our culture, history, and traditions of innovation and entrepreneurialism (see our web sites: and www.; but we also have much to learn from the Chinese. Can we, for example, unleash the creative and innovative power of our own creative sector in service of wider economic transformation and well-being, as the Chinese are now doing?)

    I will take this same approach as The Henry Ford continues to build relationships with China. I will be representing both The Henry Ford’s and Travel Michigan’s tourism interests at a meeting later this month in Orlando that brings together top officials from China’s National Tourism Administration, Director Generals from 31 Chinese provinces and regions, and members of Chinese press and media, with state tourism directors from throughout the United States. I am pleased and privileged to have been asked to represent not only The Henry Ford, but also Travel Michigan, the state’s travel bureau, at this 3rd Sino-U.S. Tourism Directors Summit. The message I will carry at that meeting is that the U.S., Michigan, metro Detroit, and The Henry Ford are great places for the Chinese to visit as tourists, but also to learn about America— from its heartland—and to explore opportunities for builidng mutually beneficial cultural and economic relationships.

    A coordinated, unified, and vision-driven approach to China and the myriad opportunities it presents is what Michigan needs, now and into the future. This is an area where Michigan can and should lead the nation. Metro Detroit should become and be recognized as China’s principal portal to the U.S., and in turn, we should do all we can to ensure that Michigan has a strong and contnuing presence withn many aspects of the exploding Chinese economy.

    Our institution is committed to doing its part, and we hope to do so in collaboration and partnership with others. That’s our modus operandi and we hope others here in Michigan will embrace it as well.

  • 111 Curt Crysler // Sep 30, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Tom Watkins’ insight on China is on target.

    Several major cities in China each have more population than the entire state of Michigan. It isn’t very effective in the long run to scatter our resources by sending in various counties and associations, each with a different message. The best plan would be for the Governor to back the visits of interested agencies in the state, and use the clout and the prestige the state office to draw attention to Michigan.

    The Chinese respect and expect government and private industry to work together, as they do in China. Our governor should stop ignoring, or worse, using China negatively for personal political currency.

    Michigan is a major exporting state. In addition, Japanese and European companies have set up offices, labs, and factories in Michigan. It’s time we export to China and attract Chinese companies to set up in Michigan. China is the future, not more of the same from Europe and Japan.

    The message to China should be that we are all one major interest in Michigan, with a single goal. Only the governor’s office can do that.

  • 112 Mark Savitskie // Sep 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Tom Watkins’ essay reminds me of the words of Morgan Freeman’s character “Red” in the Shawshank Redemption. At some point Red laments to Andy something to the effect that “he can either start livin’ or start dyin’…its his choice”. We in this metropolis called Southeastern Michigan have had a dark business cloud over us for some time now…and as we blame others for our demise…maybe we should look to those others for our life. China, as Tom explains so comprehensively, is a huge opportunity for us. And rather than fight the idea of what they represent, perhaps we should embrace the opportunity.

  • 113 Mary Cicala // Sep 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Like Lee Iacocca asked, “Where have all our entrepreneurs gone?”, I read Tom’s article questioning the same. These vibrant, proactive people have been told by their federal government, “No, you can’t have your own health care program, we don’t trust you to manage your own finances to cover you in a catastrophe”. As these once creative thinkers proposed new, out of the box thinking, they have been told by shortsighted managers, “No, we can’t do that … it’ll cost too much”. Eventually, these people become passive and the leadership takes more control of business strategies; not just of the bottom line, but the product development, marketing, R&D, etc. Unfortunately, our political leaders for the state of Michigan and our USA, are not qualified to run a business. Global markets ARE businesses. Instead, our govenor and president are career politicians – taught to destroy opposing ideas, not to covet them and treat them as opportunities for improvement. Until we get new Political Leaders in office, we are going to continue to lose ground in the entrepreneurship markets — which is global competition in ALL industries! Please voters … help bring back the creative think tanks and business executives to lead a prosperious Michigan and USA !!! I know I will do my part in our next election to bring business leadership to the capitol, not career destroyers!!!

  • 114 Beth Leeson // Sep 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    OK, all the really smart and articulate thoughts have already been expressed, so here, at #114, there’s not much to add. Tom really nailed it in this essay. In a nutshell, the gap between what we know and what we do continues to astound me. Thanks Tom for another thoughtful and provocative article giving us hope that the prodding will continue.

  • 115 Alex Zhang // Sep 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    More communication, better understanding, more appreciation, more win-win situation. As a director in charge of international educational exchange, overseas studies programs and Chinese Confucius Classroom Program at a Chinese private school, I strongly encourage Chinese education administrators and students to learn more about America. I sincerely welcome more exchange and cooperation between Michigan schools and the school where I am working with. My school has built partnership with Fisher Elementary School, Oakland School District and the Foundation for Global Youth Citizens in Michigan. A Confucius Classroom will be established by my school and Fisher Elementary School. In the past, my school sent about 200 students and teachers to the other countries for further study or short-term exchange every year. From 2010, my school decides to receive about 30 international high school students every school year. The school will offer full scholarship to the successful applicants. I sincerely hope the outstanding students from Michigan will apply for this scholarship. I firmly believe that our programs will help the young people in the world become successful global citizens with international perspective and intercultural communication abilities.

  • 116 Raymond Xu // Sep 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Chinese companies are in Michigan already. The estimated 30 to 40 Chinese companies already established their sales offices, R&D centers, warehouses in Southeast Michigan in the past five to eight years. But more Chinese companies are investing in other states. One top private Chinese auto supplier acquired 9 distressed auto parts suppliers in our neighboring states, but only one manufacturing facility in Michigan. What is the reason? Our neighboring states extended their welcome arms longer.

    After the acquisition, the majority of Chinese companies demonstrated great patience to invest and grow the US companies. In some way, they are learning the US companies, markets, supply chains, labor relation etc. But more importantly, the Chinese business owners have the natural tendency to grow the business. It is in their vein. They are not Wall Street investors who come to break the companies and sell in pieces.

    Five years after the completion of IBM Computer acquisition, American executives are still running the daily operation in IBM Computer. The Chinese owner Lenovo still finances all the losses but steadily expand the global market through re-branding and integration.

    A few years after the acquisition, the Michigan manufacturing facility mentioned above still doesn’t have a manager who can speak Chinese. It is fine for that Chinese auto supplier. The company is pursuing its global footprints and strategic investment.

    Unless the Chinese economy experiences any major downfall, the Chinese companies have to pursue their annual double digit growth like all companies are doing. In this time, M&A is the right approach to grow. China’s Beijing West Industrial Co. recently invested US$100 million to acquire the suspension and brakes business of Delphi Corp., a Michigan-based auto parts supplier that filed for Chapter 11 in October 2005. That is good for the Chinese company, great for Michigan businesses and residents.

    In the near future, Chinese companies are expected to set up their manufacturing plants here in US to tightly integrate with their customer bases, or maybe vehicle assembly lines here to shorten the time to market. Will Michigan truly welcome the Chinese investment?

    Some levels of Michigan government demonstrated strong leadership to change the course. But we all recognize there are much much more to do to truly accept the global business nature and lead Michigan to the bright future.

  • 117 SuiWah Chan // Oct 1, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Watkins’ article on bridge building is worthy of serious consideration for new economic development. A rare but frank and factual assessment of our Michigan relationship with China. Even more impressive are the suggestions steps toward building a win-win relationship that promise to bring investment and jobs back to the State. These suggestions are formulated succinctly and demonstrated to be practical and real based on his first hand experience as a consultant on China business. It is time to “Stop the blame game and start the build game” toward rebuilding a new economy that our great State deserves.

  • 118 Don Haffner // Oct 2, 2009 at 6:24 am

    I lived and worked in the Republic of Korea for nearly 15 years during the 1970s and 1980s. During those years, I watched Korea change from a third world country into an economic powerhouse. This is the same transition that China is going through now. The East Asian, or as a Vietnamese-American once said to me “chop-stick Asian,” reverance for education is the key. Education and especially learning English were akin to a religion in South Korea. I’m sure it is the same in China and that is why, as Tom Watkins notes, there are more English speakers in China than in the USA. The world has changed irrevocably. We in Michigan, and throughout the United States, need to stop crying over spilt milk and start studying.

  • 119 Irene // Oct 2, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Terrific work, Tom!

  • 120 KP CHEN // Oct 2, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    No Olympics is no big deal … if we can make breakthroughs elsewhere …

    “Bridge to China” is an 5-circle Intellectual Olympics all by itself, next, it is about how we:
    define sports,
    devise games and
    draft rules …

    I believe President Obama needs to grasp the essence of the story of 5-loaves and 3-fishes …

    Use ‘nothing’ to fulfill ‘everything’.

    Once we can get the underlying charity right, there are permissible thousands garden varities derivatives.

    Including fundamentally fix our broken financial systems.

  • 121 Carol // Oct 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    After spending the month of July, 2009, teaching English to Chinese English Teachers, in what is considered to be China’s poorest province, I found Tom’s analysis to be “right on”! My students frequently spoke and wrote about the rapid development in their small towns and villages and the enhanced quality of life for everyone there. While traveling within that province and to other parts of the country, I witnessed first hand, the vast amount of building of roads and buildings and the landscaping that went with it. Additionally, the news continually included pieces about the wealth that was building amongst the people.
    It was clear that the United States needed to acknowledge China’s progress and find ways to to become partners with it. Tom’s Action Steps for Michigan is a well thought out and practical approach to doing that. There is potential for economic development and partnerships in numerous arenas. Michigan has the talent and skill to proceed and to take Tom’s proposed steps.

  • 122 Ken Rogers // Oct 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Since 2002, Automation Alley has conducted three trade missions to China and will continue to travel to China on alternating years with India. China, with 1.3 billion residents, has a marketplace that needs everything and our members have recognized the need to “be there.”

    Our trade mission participants, mainly small and medium-sized enterprises, have enjoyed finding new global markets, especially in China, to sell their products and services, some have even opened up offices.

    Automation Alley is committed to finding new markets for our local business in Southeast Michigan and China is definitely part of that strategy.

    Ken Rogers
    Executive Director
    Automation Alley

  • 123 Joette George // Oct 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

    In general a very good article with a number of useful and practical ideas. I do worry a bit about the suggestion to offer the Chinese our “personal and commercial property at fire-sale prices.” Selling off your assets is never a good nor sustainable idea. I also wonder about the usefulness of teaching our children Chinese. By the time they are adults the technology will likely exist (personal translators) to render that skill “quaint”. On the other hand teaching them Chinese history and culture is a must. To truly understand someone you can’t just understand the words they are saying, you must also grasp the history and cultural nuances behind those words.

  • 124 Shari Krishnan // Oct 6, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Mr. Watkins has always “listened and learned.” I hope that many in Michigan will quickly start doing the same. Thanks for never giving up on us by sharing your thoughts and wise words, Mr. Watkins.

  • 125 Linda Jennings // Oct 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Tom, Once again you hit the nail on the head when it comes to our relationship with China and what we are doing (and aren’t doing) to prepare for the future. I hope people in Lansing listen to your ideas and suggestions. We need leaders who can think about the future for Michigan . Our relationship with China can and should be a priority. Thanks for opening our eyes.

  • 126 Chris Wigent // Oct 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I have read Tom’s article and many of the 125 posts related to his message. I am not creative enough to add anything new to the comments already posted, but it is clear to me that we need to work harder/smarter in this area and that Tom has the vision necessary to get us off of the dime. Let’s get moving!

  • 127 Amy DeLano // Oct 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Great article Tom, keep it up!:)

  • 128 Guofang Xiong // Oct 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks Tom! You did a great job . Reading your articles always enlarge my horison and deepen my understanding of the relationship between China and Michigan. Nice to meet you in Michigan when I was teaching Chinese language there. Thanks for all your help during I was staying there. Seeing is believing. I know you did great job for the education exchange between China and Michigan. Thank you! Thanks to your and other friends’ help, I had a very pleasant teaching experience in Michigan. Hope one day I have chance again to go back to Michgan, to meet you there and to teach the kids Chinese language and culture. All the kids are cute and great. I love those American kids.
    Hope can read more of your articles!

  • 129 Bliss Bruen // Oct 8, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Watkins again delivers a detailed and inspiring blueprint for shifting gears and attitudes. He couldn’t be more clear on the “why” and also the “how” of getting started. It’s not just Michigan – other states and their leaders should be listening. We need more leadership at state level to coordinate an approach to China .The old rhetoric used to fight political opponents does nothing to correct the chain of abuses across an ocean, He’s right on many levels, particularly as he models the “person to person, leader to leader ” approach to globalization. Oakland County’s Mandarin program could be exported to states that “get” the level of reinvention required for today’s youth to be inspired to become innovators, to go from Pre-K to Ph.D. Colorado is poised to lead in emerging new energy technologies and knows we’re not alone. Our Gov. Ritter just signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce emphasizing renewable energy, bioscience and clean technology as the focus of win-win collaborations for China and Colorado. How often are business leaders in Michigan and Colorado talking to each other? Maybe Watkins could broker such talks.

  • 130 Olivia Hu // Oct 9, 2009 at 3:24 am

    As a Chinese college student, I am still thinking about what does globalization mean to me.
    It’s true that we Chinese are studying your Americans’ language, history, political systems and other ways to enhance our standing in the world. And what I want to point out is another fact or trend which is we’re also working hard to dip out and learn the cream of the Chinese traditional culture. So we can proudly say that Chinese people are really fond of learning and trying hard to innovate especially after 1978.
    It’s really hard to judge which country is superior because China and America just consist of totally different peoples and have entirely different history, cultural background, geographical features, language etc. We can only say that the two countries both have its advantages and problems. Differences lead to communication. And thanks to the globalization that offers the two countries so many chances to communicate and mutual learning.
    It cannot be denied that there can be many disputes and conflicts between the two countries. But I think the different opinions and benefits can be challenges for the two countries to find win-win situations.
    I am so glad to read Mr. Watkins’ essay which really inspired me a lot. And I’d like to quote Professor Fei Xiaotong’s famous words to end this comment which is “各美其美,美人之美,美美与共,天下大同。”

  • 131 giggs lei // Oct 10, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Tom, our group had great time in China. and i think all of our group members they are all looking forward to go to visit China again in the future. if you need any information, you can check my web and email me, ok?
    take care and wish to see you again soon.

  • 132 John Grassley // Oct 10, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    As someone who cut his teeth on Michigan politics and business, I’ve watched from a distance the decimation of this once great state. While other states are embracing a global vision, Michigan continues to be at best dead in the water or running for political cover.
    GM’s sale of Hummer brand to an obscure Chinese truck company that happens to be located in a place most people in the west would not be aware of, Sichuan Province, is ironic in that back in the 80′s, under the leadership of Governors Millikin and Blanchard, a sister province relationship was established with this Chinese backwater. Imagine if this relationship established and nurtured by governors Millikin and Blanchard wasn’t left to wither on the vine since that time. Imagine the opportunities that
    have perhaps passed us by due to a lack of broader vision coming from successive Michigan governors.
    It is time to wake up Michigan – the Chinese wave is coming. Continue on the same path
    and opportunities will continue to pass Michigan by.

  • 133 Craig DeRoche // Oct 10, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    This is an extraordinarily detailed, important and timely document.

    I have known Tom for seventeen years since learning the importance of collaboration and the changing dynamics in Michigan with him at the MPLP program at MSU.

    Congratulations to Tom and to Dome Magazine for publishing this.

    Equally important is the work of Brooks Patterson, Bob Ficano & Paul Geiligham. Michigan is in a better position because of their work.

    We don’t need any more “hit 8 mile” speeches from our elected leaders or candidates. We learned from the first “hit 8 mile” speech that if you tell businesses to leave… they will.

    Michigan isn’t big enough or important enough in a global economy to shut off trade to China. We have the brains, the natural resources, and the location to grow international trade rather than chase it away.

    It is time our leaders think in terms of how many jobs and opportunities a relationship with China will create here- not how many jobs are in China that we should force to come home.

    Continuing down this road only forces the jobs that would be in Michigan to move to Indiana or Tennessee or Alabama.

    Michigan can do better. Lets all hope that many more government and business leaders here take that first step!

  • 134 Jeremy Hughes // Oct 11, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I am discouraged as I write this, not because of what Tom Watkins has said (with which I totally agree) but because of a web page I just visited:

    This is a table of data from the administration of the ACT college admission test across the nation. In Michigan, all high school juniors take the ACT now as part of the new Michigan Merit Exam.

    The table shows “Percent of ACT-Tested Graduates Ready for College-level Coursework 2009.”

    On the Composite score, Michigan ranks 42nd among 50 states. On English: 49th. On Math: 44th. On Reading: 49th. On Science: 41st.

    If a bridge to China, or anywhere, is to be built, its foundation is in our classrooms. At a time when we know that a high school diploma is not the end, that postsecondary education is important for all students, we obviously have some work to do.

  • 135 Jack Ebling // Oct 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    In the continuing search for economic growth and global advancement, one possibility stands above the rest. U.S.-China business is that chance. And Tom Watkins gets that in a way few others have. No. 1, he has lived it. No. 2, he’s a tireless advocate. No. 3, he knows the ways to get his message to the masses. Now, all we need to do is listen. My son, Zach, a graduate of Kalamazoo College, is living in Beijing and building a business, one with international potential. I will visiting China for two weeks next May. And my last non-family conversation before I leave Michigan may be with Tom. I wish I could take him will me. In many ways, I will.

  • 136 Yong Zhao // Oct 12, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Tom, thanks for such a thoughtful and wise piece of work, but more importantly for generating so many great comments. The arguments are compelling, the evidence clear, and the directions well laid out. So what is missing? State-level leadership, which Tom also pointed out.

    I have lived in Michigan for over 16 years. This is the place I have lived the longest in my life. I have also had the good fortune to interact with many people, mostly educators and students around this great state. So I naturally think more about what our schools are doing to help our children think and act more globally. There are strong interests and some great initiatives but we need much more. The Confucius Institute at MSU, which I direct, has been working hard to offer Chinese language and culture programs to students in a variety of ways: online, placing teachers, games, etc. We have had great success, but I found schools outside Michigan in other states are much more eager to take advantage of these opportunities.

    And I attribute this to the general political and cultural climate in Michigan, as pointed by Tom. Michigan needs to look to the future, not the past, look outward, not inward. The solution lies in collaboration with others, not by shutting them out. China is only one example, an extremely important one nonetheless.

    The people can do a lot, but our elected officials must do their part: lead. I hope they will heed Tom’s words.

  • 137 Jeffery Sprys // Oct 12, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Great article! Very informative!

  • 138 Joe Lehman // Oct 12, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Happily, Tom’s four major recommendations can be implemented with no expansion of government, which Michigan can ill afford. If China significantly liberalizes (and honors) its laws regarding repatriation of capital, the door is wide open to everything Tom hopes to see.

  • 139 clark durant // Oct 12, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Tom’s article captures a very profound, often forgotten truth, that when men and women are free to own property, to try to develop an idea, and to benefit from the fruits of their labor, prosperity can result for many. Even with modest steps China is demonstrating, once again, that wherever and whenever it is tried freedom works . And let’s try more of it in Michigan too!
    Thanks Tom.

    clark durant

  • 140 Ernando Minghine(Ernie) // Oct 12, 2009 at 6:08 am

    As usually,Tom watkins has a handle on things that matter!His leadership and wisdom on Global Education have made a positive difference in the State of Michigan. This is especially evident in a small District like Westwood ,where his encouragement and special connections have helped our District to offer Mandarin at all schools. We believe that this has placed our students in a more advantageous position to compete now and in the future.Our kids are beginning to think Globally at the right time.We need more Tom Watkins!!! Thanks Tom for all that you do.

  • 141 Jos // Oct 12, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Watkins was the first many years ago to focus on the enormous opportunity that China held as a potential partner to advance Michigan’s perennial quest for economic diversity.
    Unfortunately, he was given even less notice by leadership in Lansing on this issue, than when he rightly and clearly forecasted that structural issues in financing Michigan public education, including exorbitant personnel and retiree legacy costs were placing our public education system on a perilous course.
    Stay with it Tom!!

  • 142 Mary Otto // Oct 12, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Oakland University has enjoyed a 25 year relationship with Guizhou Province providing education exchanges for faculty and teachers. Teachers from Southeastern Michigan join team leader Bill each summer to teach Chinese teachers techniques for teaching English language. In addition Oakland hosts 3 or 4 graduate students each year who earn a master’s degree in Reading and Language Arts. These two core programs have been responsible for establishing many other interactions between Michigan students & teachers as well as public officials and business leaders. Because Oakland recognized the mutual benefits to individuals in Michigan and in Guizhou Province, lasting friendships have developed that will carrying into future generations. China is county that welcomes and supports Michigan colleagues and friends.

  • 143 Paul Hillegonds // Oct 12, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Thank you, Tom, for your thought-provoking essay. Your experience in China reminds us that Michigan’s future prosperity in a global economy rests with engagement, not denial.

  • 144 Chuck Holmes // Oct 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you once again Tom. You clearly make the argument for engagement with China as part of the formula for our future economic prosperity. As an economic development representative working for Brooks Patterson in Oakland County bringing foreign investment to Michigan we appreciate your ongoing efforts to carry this message to the leadership and citizenry of the state.

    I cannot add much to what the three county leaders and many others have already offered in their earlier comments. Only to say that my limited experience in China over the past three years has been exhilarating, enlightening and challenging. I have truly enjoyed all of my experiences with the Chinese people here and abroad and I know we can work together for our mutual benefit. It is paramount that we put all the pieces together on our side so that we can be successful in the face of so many competitors for the opportunities that China holds for us.

    Thank you Tom for guiding us forward.

  • 145 Joe Miao // Oct 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    My comment on Tom Watkins’ essay:
    As a student in China back in the late 1980s, I was fascinated by the American culture – space shuttle, Hollywood movies, President Ronald Reagan, and of course Henry Ford. What I didn’t know what would shock me the most when I came here in 1996 was two TV programs – COPS and Jerry Springer. America has many faces and so does China.

    I’ve found that few Americans truly understand or seem to embrace – Asia, let alone China. Yet this region from which the world’s 60% GDP is coming, has boundless business opportunities. No one in Michigan today wants less of that today. Few Michiganians understand China’s increasing influence in the world today. Tom’s efforts has been certainly helping to bridge that gap.

    Whether you like it not, the globalization will happen. As the two greatest nations in the world, US and China have to work together. Michgianians need to know how things play out in the Chinese mind. And this is especially true in developing business either cooperating with China or competing with it.

    Let me quote a South Korean newspaper in the debate of whether China will be the next superpower or not – Throughout its 5000-year history, China has NOT been a superpower for only the last 150 years or so. (

  • 146 isia kwong // Oct 12, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Whether you are pro or against China, one thing is clear: China cannot be ignored. In order to be competitive with the Chinese, we have to be “educated” about China. As Tom pointed out, the Chinese “…..are studying our language, history, political systems and other ways to enhance their standing in the world. …. How much do you know about China? We need far more of our students learning Chinese.” The Chinese have the zest to learn and are soaking up knowledge about us (USA) whereas most of us (Americans) are too arrogant to learn anything about China. Seriously, other than Chinese food, how much do Americans know or are interested to know, about China? The more the Chinese know about us and the less we know about them, the less competitive we will be. It is really irrelevant whether we like or dislike, agree or disagree with their political system. China is not going away. The fact is, China has made great strides militarily, economically, etc. in the last several decades and it is paramount that we play “catch up” in learning about China if we are to stay competitive. A good starting point would be from classrooms in schools across the nation.

  • 147 Steve Lomske // Oct 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I just spent the weekend helping my high school daughter with her world history of China, the Tang and Song dynasties, 960-1279 C.E. and the enormous amount of world trade going on at that time.Some Michigan high schools do learn about China. Trade with China is nothing new,European countries became wealthy trading in Chinese goods, the U.S. just needs to catch up.

  • 148 Maggie Pan // Oct 13, 2009 at 6:27 am

    It is described that the relationship between China and USA is like a ‘couple’ in the family, if both want to have a good life, they need to cooperate and accomodate each other. Cooperation and mutual development is the trend. In another words, when people is getting nervous and feeling in trouble, the efficient way-out is to overcome himself/herself. The threat is not really from others. I agree with Mr. Tom Watkins`s opinions that a wide bridge needs to be built between Michigan and China!

  • 149 David J Yardley // Oct 13, 2009 at 7:00 am

    As usual Tom Watkin’s slaps people in the face with the reality that is in front of them. China, should not be chastised, but celebrated. We must move beyong the mindset of an agrarian economy in Michigan to one of an International partner with the world.
    David J. Yardley

  • 150 Tweed James // Oct 13, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Iam very glad to read this artical written byTom Watkins ,who is a real Chinese Expert.As the artical mentioned,China is facing a lot of problems on all aspects,such as environment,economic ,social development ,ect.I am thinking about a question,What is the meaning of Globalization,Challenge or crisis?

  • 151 Jon // Oct 13, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Great article! Watkins has the right insight and remedy for getting not just Michigan’s economy growing again, but the US. We need to pull ourselves out of the we-they thinking of US-Sino relations and start understanding the mutual interests and opportunities. We can and should be driving our ties closer to China while always remaining true to our interests and values. But as the Chinese say: close friends earn the right to advise! Great article Tom!!

  • 152 Mike Mayer // Oct 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    While I agree with everything he has written, I believe Tom’s excellent article is not really about China. It has far broader reach than that – it is about us as a country. Think about the meaning behind his recommendations – and what would happen to our country and around the world if we could just adopt these few simple principles…

    Drop the political rhetoric that is not conducive to building positive relationships.

    Seek advice from knowledgeable individuals…(emphasis on true knowledge)

    Convene a cross section of…community leaders and ask how (we)… can leverage… relationships.

    Brainstorm with all the…experts…

    You get the idea. It’s a shame that we think we are so slow to learn the lessons of our past.

    Our children deserve better.

  • 153 Tim // Oct 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Well done.Thank you Tom Watskins .You give us a good opportunity disseminate the Chinese culture.Make Chinese and American understand each other and promotes economy development .

  • 154 Xiaoqin Zhong // Oct 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    I am a student of MNU, I am glad to have a chance to read your article. And at first, thanks for you job working on bridge to China,and thanks for your speech to introduce the plan to us last term. Now I got more information about the bridge from Great lakes and Great Wall, though your article and K-12.I’m very happy that there are many peopel interested in Chinese while Chinese peopel learning your language with big willing. And your analysis about China and USA are really clear.That very helpful for us,who don’t know much about our world.
    Year,I will do more job about the language researching. Not only for the reason that I am majoring on teaching Chinese as a foreign language,but also because it is my dream.And now,it is needed by the world ,right? I hope I’ll have chance to take a part in this plan,and be needed by the world after I graduate from MNU.Of course,I’ll try my best.

  • 155 Larry Huang, Ph.D. // Oct 13, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Once again, thank you Tom Watkins for the leadership and initiatives you have demonstrated. If the current administration in Lansing does not act in a timely manner and in a meaningful way, Michigan will continue to be unable to benefit from the economic growth in China and unable to share American culture and value with the Chinese people.

    Regardless of what the government would do, local business groups should organize seminars, workshops, and trade missions to targeted Chinese regions. If there is such event in the metro Detroit area, I’d be very interested to join since I have quite a few buddies in China who are small- and medium- sized business owners in China and are eager to do product and technology trade with American businesses.

  • 156 Adam // Oct 13, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Nice to know this website and read this article. Tom maybe you forgot me. I’m a student in China. You made a speech in Mianyang Normal University and I heard of it. Maybe in the future there is a chance waiting for me to teach chinese in Detroit. This is a bridge for me to practice English.

  • 157 Jane // Oct 14, 2009 at 1:57 am

    Beautiful article. I am a Chinese student. I totally agree with your view, Thank you for your attention in Mianyang,and thank you for your attention in China.As a Chinese,I am very happy that you are interested in China.Thank you very much!

  • 158 Paul Pytlowany // Oct 14, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Being involved in WWJ-TV’s special “Building Bridges from the Great Lakes to the Great Wall” was one of the most memorable productions in my career. The trip with you and Carol was eye opening to say the least. I witnessed a country that is very eager and determined to succeed. My wife owns a small school in New Hudson. The school now teaches Chinese as part of their curriculum. The trip as well as your insights into China helped us realize how important it is for our children to learn their language. Keep up your great work Tom!

  • 159 Glen Taylor // Oct 14, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I think Tom has certainly captured the urgency of the our current reality in Michigan and the need for s all to open our eyes and our minds to the world around us. Unfortunately we have had to learn all to quickly that to have a viable future for Michigan we need to become players on a global field and understand that the only game in town is not within our own boarders. From some of the post I sensed that their is a desire to ask those in the Michigan Legislature to act. While I agree that they too should work to change Michigan’s future we all need to take that step forward, whether in business or education, and ask, “How are we making the difference?”

    Within the Westwood Community School District we have taken drastic steps to change and grow. We have started innovative programs for at risk teens and drop outs which are currently servicing 540 Wayne County teens that had slipped through the cracks of our educational system. We will be opening two New Tech High Schools that will that will engage business and the community in away that will truly make a difference in Michigan’s ability to lead. We also have a K-12 Mandarine program in our district to begin to prepare students for their future and not our past. These programs were not developed in Michigan. We looked outside our boarders to the U.K., China, and Napa California to drive our innovations. We, much like the state as a whole, were faced with declining enrollment and a bleak future, but in the past student count had an increase of enrollment of 25% in our district as a whole. If we would not have engaged change we would still be going under with the rest of the economy. The keys to our future are securely in our hands we simply need to chose the right vehicle to get us there.

  • 160 sky // Oct 14, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Hello?I am a student of MNU?I had ever listen you speech last year?l am look forward to be a teacher in teaching Chinese as a foreign language?in my school.I try my best to study more?meanwhile?l know?practise makes perfect??so I want to get more opportunist for further and want to get helping from you?thanks for you time

  • 161 yaqi Lee // Oct 14, 2009 at 6:59 am

    thank you sir for all you have done! As you say we should using each other’s advantage to build both Michigen and China’s econamy.If we know each other better we could coorperate better and strength the economy and deal with the disruptive.
    We Chinese are studying Amarican,you mentioned MR Jhn’s words: “if we slower than your global peers ,we will be left behind!”you want American know more about China.And you try to build a bridge between China and American Univercity.At this year you came to Sichuan Mianyang Nomal Universary gave a speech.And it is still fresh in my memory.I’m a senior Teaching Chinese as an English student ,I’m try hard to prepare myself to be a teacher come to American teaching Chinese .Not competie with local people for job just want to help and let people know more about China.And I’m very proude of china’s cultrue .Last thank you for inspiring me.

  • 162 Jennifer Wallace // Oct 14, 2009 at 7:39 am


    You were brilliant yet again! Partnerships and collaborations will be they key to our future. When you said that ” Great Teachers Plant Seeds That You Can Harvest For A Lifetime”. You were right on point!!

    I vividly remember the ruler you used to give us which said, “Show Me How What We Are Doing Will Improve The Life Of A Child”! You so get it!

    My greatest treasure is the book you wrote when you were State Superintendent of Public Instruction , “They Help Us Paint Rainbows”!!

    Great Teachers, teach children how to think, dream and imagine more. They don’t teach the test! Great Teachers impart knowledge, motivate and inspire. They teach us how to Make A Difference and remind us that each of us have the ability to do so.

    You are a Great Teacher Tom! You continue to inspire all of us by encouraging us to get out of our comfort zone and look around us.


  • 163 Paul Welday // Oct 14, 2009 at 11:39 am

    For quite some time many of us have been urging fundamental reform in Michigan, including a reexamination of our role in international trade. No one has been more of an advocate for a policy of global expansion than Tom Watkins. And he’s right.

    Tom mentions the past use of all things Chinese as a political club wielded by politicians to advance their agenda. Those days are over. We must recognize the importance of China in the world economy generally, and to Michigan specifically. We must now take this opportunity to embrace the opportunity China presents and construct policies that will allow us to leverage this relationship to create jobs here at home.

    I have the highest regard for Tom Watkins. He speaks the truth. It is time for Michigan – Republicans and Democrats – to come together to do what is necessary to reestablish ourselves on the world economic stage. This is our chance. Thanks, Tom, for helping light the way.

  • 164 Lisa Sriver // Oct 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Dear Tom, As an early cnildhood education professional I can speak to your concerns about our children’s educations. The governor and her crew have over-regulated our preschools and centers to the point that it is becoming impossible to provide fine, well-trained teachers because no one can afford to pay them what they deserve after paying for all of these ridiculous requirements! Furthermore, she has cut funding to all of the agencies (university extension services) which previously provided free training and education for these teachers! The total fees to renew the license for my A-rated school cost over $1200! This for a license that has been
    in place and impeccable for more than 27 years! The new licensing regs are over 60 pages. When I began my career they contained less than 20. Now two pages are devoted to ‘milk’ alone! But only one (1)paragraph to curriculum.
    These are the kinds of issues that force fantastic techers out of teaching. It is a sad state of affairs when the governor is busy
    ‘demonizing China’ and watches wonderful teachers leave the field; top-notch programs struggle or fail. Who suffers? Michigan’s children! Those very youngest persons – our future.

  • 165 Wilson // Oct 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Tom,well done.I hope you can come to Mianyang Normal University again!

  • 166 chunxiangLiang // Oct 15, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Hello Tom, I am a college student from Mianyang Normal University,appriciating your attention to the relationship between China and US.
    From your article ,I have know that it is very necessary and significant for China and US to communicate in culture and education.As you say,”the world is changing and we must race to catch up — especially when it comes to being able to understand and communicate with other people in their language.” We need to do much more to meet the change and challenge ,especially in education,sincerely hoping you can help us create more opportunities and jobs,set up the bridge to culture and edution.Our major is teaching Chinese as a foreign language,I think it is a good chance for me to spread chinese and culture,also,I’m proud of it.
    I will try my best to get more teaching skills and knowledge to take the responsibility,and enjoy of it.
    Finally, thanks for Tom very much.

  • 167 Greg Corda // Oct 15, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Tom, great article and as a father of two young children in grade school it is great to see they now have the opportunity to learn about the Chinese culture through language in the classroom, thanks in part to you and L. Brooks Patterson.

  • 168 Tom Watkins // Oct 15, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Note From the author:

    I want to thank everyone who has contributed ideas, thoughts, insights and dreams to this article.

    I have suggested to many that for maximum value they read this essay by first reading your comments due to the richness and insights you have collectively added. Clearly, you have enhanced this work by your contributions.

    My hope is that we will be able to use the thoughts expressed here and the work being done in our schools, universities, businesses, economic development offices and chambers on both sides of the ocean to continue to build a two-way bridge between Michigan and China in ways that benefit us all.

    Clearly, with leadership, China’s rise does not have to come at our demise.

    I especially want to thank the young people at Mianyang Normal University for sharing your thoughts and dreams. Together with the young people of our country, you will be responsible for expanding this two-way bridge that will bring us closer together.

    My spirits are lifted as I enter classrooms in Michigan and China and see the hope, interest, creativity and desire to find ways to work together to make this a better world for all.

    For all of you, wherever you are, who share this dream — from an educational, economic, cultural and a human, people-to-people perspective — I thank you for your efforts.

    Clearly, more is taking place than I was able to cover in the space allowed. Collectively, you have helped fill the gaps.

    As I said above: “As the great Chinese Philosopher Lao Tsu said, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ Yet, as we say in America, ‘if you don’t know where you are going, any path will take you there.’”

    We know where we need to go, and together we can get there — if we follow Henry Ford’s advice:
    Coming together is a beginning
    Keeping together is progress
    Working together equals SUCCESS!

    My hope and expectation are that this collection of ideas is part of an ongoing process — and our collective efforts will have a payoff in the future.

    Xie xie ni– Thank you!

    Tom Watkins

  • 169 Editor // Oct 15, 2009 at 8:22 am

    ( NOTE: Steven’s native language is Mandarin Chinese and he is not accustomed to writing in English, but his points come shining through.)

    Being a Hong Kong based citizen who has so many years experience and experiment in Mainland China, I am so surprised in reading Michigan-Adapting to China, and change addressed by a foreigner like Tom Watkins.

    The article covers nearly all present and upcoming issues that we have to faced. It hard for me to make comments because I am only a business man who have been engaging in his own business for over a quarter century. However I still like to express a few words expressing what I am thinking and forcasting even the world finance and economy structures were being ruined by those greedy and having political and financial needs (because they are not telling the truth).

    So, here are some observations from Hong Kong, China:

    1) never just listen but to see and feel by yourself.

    2)try to think things from the reverse side and find out the reality.

    3) it is not possible to have any instant solutions for world economic crisis as it happened not just in a day.

    4) even the China’s rise is high but the actual benefits and purchasing power of the Chinese people is getting worse

    5) China also has their own problems ahead and most of the Chinese are struggling in facing the future life, from the average income of a university graduate from RMB4000 to 2000 since 2005 (this reflected the actual unemployment situation, property prices in bigger city has rised up over 30-40 % since beginning of the year. This makes the gap between rich and the poor become bigger and bigger, a lots of small-medium manufacture collasped or moved to other nations in the past 12-18 months and I believe this could not be recovered.

    6) bigger competition from other nations.

    7) Even most of consumer products are exporting from China but China manufactures only get a small piece of profit from these transactions. Nowadays, quite a lot of manufactures quited their business and joined the force of (so called quick money), of course there is no guarantee that they can win but same also can apply to their own business, at least with these plannings they don’t need to create so many difficulties no matter in financial or quick change in labour, exchange or other policies.

    8) for States and other nations, China is a big and under developing country that I can forcast in the coming 30 years, Chinese on the whole are so sincere, hospitalty and harmony people. China has its long history and culture.

    9) Chinese will become the largest commonly used language in the world.

    10) I agree that there are countless business opportunities for other nations (especially for those who have good knowledge and strong political back-up) like Michigan’s and other states.

    11) most of other nations have already planed their target of learning Chinese officially or unofficially, many of educational instruments are being prepared.

    12) I agree the problem of unfair tariffs on all import goods that makes an unfair trade between countries to countries that all officials must bear in mind and let them to be solved shortly.

  • 170 Shellie // Oct 15, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Tom, You are great, We love you.

  • 171 Jerry // Oct 15, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I think between two cultrue a bridge is very important , we can know more about each culture and social customs .As a student we should try our best to make contrubution to this

  • 172 J C // Oct 16, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Hey,Tom,that’s very kind of you to tell us so many many things about Chinese language in the USA,that’s so significative for the students whose major is teaching Chinese as a second language just like me.^_^Thank you so much again and I will continue to pay close attention to your blog.

  • 173 Chao Peng // Oct 16, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Hello Tom,I am a boy of 22 years old. I am also a student of Mianyang Normal University . My major is teaching Chinese as a second language. I am very sorry for missed your lecture last year.but we are lucky,now Koralo is our business teacher . He gives us so many opportunities to get in touch with the world,so we have the chance to read your article and see your video. I have a dream that one day I can be abroad to spread the culture and history of China,at the same time ,teach people how to speak Chinese. I think even this dream is hard to realise I also want to spare no efforts to do it.After graduation from Mianyang Normal University ,I also want to continue study to get higher master degree. Now I already stared to prepare the entrance exams. Afew days ago ,I
    already gave up this dream because of the reality I should face . But my sister who now in France gave me a call to encourage me . Tom I have the strong belief sooner or later we will
    meet in Michigan.
    Best wishes !

  • 174 Bill Richardson // Oct 16, 2009 at 6:58 am

    What a great article by Tom Watkins! Kudos! I have been teaching annually in China since 1988 and will serve as a primary WITNESS to what Tom is saying in his essay. I have experienced first hand China’s development over the past 21 years and find it impossible to share in human terms the progess that she is making. As an educator, I would want to share that China’s education system has been backward and thus, children in this country have been held back. BUT, Beijing has recently mandated that all new university hires are PhD’s in an attempt to upgrade instruction in higher education. Reform is also underway in the primary, junior high and high schools. China’s “new generation” is going to be much more prepared to deal with a global economy and international business. I teach in a Chinese grade 7 school and I will testify to the fact that these children remind me of American children in a generation past. They are excited, eager and filled with the hope that they will study in America some day. NOTHING is going to stop them. This year over 1,000,000 Chinese high school students opted out of the senior high school exit exam in order to explore undergrad study outside of China which only reiterates what I have said earlier.
    I too concur with Tom on the lack of any initiatives in Lansing. Granholm as repeatedly bashed China instead of embracing her. When IS Lansing going to MAKE an extended trade mission to China? I sure wish there were more people like Tom Wakins in Lansing where literally NOTHING is happening other than politicians bickering over issues that cannot be resolved because of politics. Any fool can see where all of this is going……..and in the meantime, we sit and wait….

  • 175 John Telford // Oct 17, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Tom says much of what I said in a 1990 education-planning document entitled “Telford’s Telescope” that telescoped the demographic/economic/political/technological/social (DEPTS) environment humankind was to encounter (and now has encountered) in the 21st century. President Obama should appoint Tom Watkins ambassador to China.

  • 176 judy // Oct 17, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Tom,did you still remember your trip in mianyang zitong?right!I am the girl from MNU.After Mr.Koralo told us your essay, i have read it for my first time ,it let me have a deep recognize of you .You’ve tride your best to do contribute to Great Lakes &Great Wall.I also found that why you know so well of our country & our culture.Your words are truly expresses the current issues ,and you also told us the way to solve them.I have a clear thought about culture differences, and I know we need each other in the fierce competition world. I always think how lucky I am if one day I coule do someting meaningful to this goal,and you will be always a good example for me .

  • 177 maryann cristof // Oct 17, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Tom–excellent piece. You are truley a man of great vision.

  • 178 Lester Monts // Oct 17, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I want to expand a bit on Tom’s comment about the extraordinary work of the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), which in only a few short years has taken on a venture to expose the world to China’s long history and culture through education. As the immediate past chair of the College Board’s Board of Trustees and a senior academic administrator at the University of Michigan, I’ve seen first hand how Hanban is succeeding in these important endeavors. With major support from Hanban, the College Board’s Advanced Placement courses on Chinese Language and Culture is making significant strides in the nation’s high schools by introducing students to a wide array of Chinese linguistic treasures. More than ever before, American students are learning Chinese in greater numbers. The China Bridge Program, also supported by Hanban and organized by the College Board, provides the means for American educators to travel to China to interact with their Chinese counterparts. I have heard educators with many years of experience as teachers and administrators comment that their travels to China were life-changing events. Those expressions are surely being repeated to and having an impression on their American students and colleagues. Hanban’s more than 300 Confucius Institutes are contributing immensely to language acquisition in some of the most remote regions around the world. Four Michigan universities now have Confucius Institutes. Educationally, Michigan is poised to join with the many other state agencies Tom mentions in this provocative article to move our state to a higher level of interaction. If we follow through with his recommended courses of action, enormous benefits to both Michigan and China are in store.

  • 179 Mike Reno // Oct 17, 2009 at 10:33 am

    An insightful look at a the reality Michigan’s leaders love to ignore.

    There is plenty here that can inform and inspire.

    I’d like to see an abridged version of this in local business magazines (Crain’s) with the hope that small and medium sized business might be awakened to the potential of working with China.

    It’s not just about selling in China… there are still limitless opportunities for buying raw materials in China, and using them to make and sell quality products here. Importing is not just for big business any more. China is not going away, and the sooner Michigan accepts that fact, the sooner we can start our recovery.

    Dick DeVos tried to talk about that; he tried to explain about NEW jobs he created HERE that were only possible because of the work being done in China. But the political calculations of his opponent played on the narrow-minded thinking of Michigan’s union population. These attempts to shame Michiganders into protectionism not only stunt our growth, but also allow others to gain an edge over us.

    I was also glad to see the article mention Tom’s efforts to help launch education initiatives. Schools are part of the long term solution. They will help to make our children less susceptible to the myopic views of our current political leaders, but it will also help to prepare them for a world that is likely to look very different in 10-15 years. Brooks Patterson — the iconic leader of Oakland County — gets it and has tried to spur schools to action. Schools are doing their best to drag their feet, and it’d be great for Brooks to inject another booster shot!

    Thanks Tom, for your tireless efforts to help educate business and civic leaders. China is undoubtedly going to be a significant factor in Michigan’s future. Your work helps people to realize the choice to make it a positive or negative factor is entirely up to us.

  • 180 Shawnee Q // Oct 17, 2009 at 11:15 am

    When I read about Tom’s articles, I was very surprised to learn how he understood the cultures of China so well. After hearing of many of Tom’s stories and experiences, and his motives and inspiration to going, I’m not longer surprised.
    The minute I landed into back home to Michigan from China, I notice immediately the lack of overpopulation. When I was visiting my relatives and friends, I was surprised also to hear the different educational structures, and the efforts in learning fluency in English as well as the importance of teaching it correctly to children in China. It parallels to the improving efforts of China’s increasingly advancing economy and efforts to improve the quality of life. My friend just recently came back from China, and complained about how expensive the golf courses were. Tom also so wisely noted that there are too many business opportunities between Michigan and China, and sheds light between the two locations and how we can take advantage of it, which makes this article very insightful. Michigan needs wise visionary leaders like Tom Watkins.

  • 181 Susan K // Oct 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Another country heard from. Not really just up in the U.P.
    Thanks Tom, another great article !

  • 182 liz shoo // Oct 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I stumbled on this after reading another by mr. watkins on (he has many there).
    I am a graduate student in beijing and found his ideas productive to america and china. I encourage others to read his report on connecting education online from china and us as raises interesting points (
    It is obvious he understands chinese ways better than most. his blog shows that (

    congrautalions mr. watkins for helping global relations in most creative ways.

    liz shoo

  • 183 ISA // Oct 18, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Dear Tom ,
    Your artics are all so good , and i really like you build the bright between China and USA. and i hope i will contrbute myself to this progress .

  • 184 Jinyi He // Oct 18, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Hello Tom, I’ m a sudent from Mianyang Normal University. Your friend Koralo is my “Business English” tercher.
    Last term, you had a speech in our school. I know that you make big contribution for the develop of English and Chinese.
    Thank for you doing, as a student of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, I will try my best to do it will. And strive to contribute to the development of the two languages.

  • 185 KP CHEN // Oct 18, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Very interesting piece.

    In 1980′s, Taiwanese business(wo)men, plunged into PC business, thanks to the IBM (Intel) compatible movement and their derivatives.

    Hardwares (Processor, memory, chipset, etc) and softwares (DOS, Windows, etc) ascending, like birds with 2 wings, they soar this industry to an incredible level.

    Though everybody would credit HP, Intel, CISCO, Microsoft, Apple, Dell and many others for the great leaps forward, but very few know, it is the army of bees that crosspollinate for the real generation and growth to take place.

    In order for the Michigan to green forward, we need the bees that cross-pollinate.

    Their looks are not impressive, their hummings might even a little annoying.

    But they fulfill the essential role of our globalization.

  • 186 Pamela // Oct 18, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Hello Tom, I’ m also a sudent from Mianyang Normal University. Your friend Koralo is my “Business English” tercher.
    My major is Chinese as a Foreign Language.
    Thank you for everything ,and you set a good example for me ,I will do my best to do my major!

  • 187 Fred Asbell // Oct 19, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Tom has it right! China is both a competitive threat as well as a significant potential partner and customer. The US should take the threat seriously by getting schools up to the task of educating kids to meet the challenge, while getting equally serious about the potential market.

  • 188 Jing Zhen // Oct 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Good afternoon Mr. Watkins. Your articles remind me of your lecture last term. As you say” the 21th century belongs to the globally connected.” We need wired for change. China is an ancient country. It has a long history and splendid culture. In recently, more and more foreigners are attracted by Chinese culture.
    As a junior student who major in teaching Chinese as a foreign language from Mian Yang Normal University. The Bridge to China program brings us opportunity as well as challenge. For one thing we should know our culture well .For another we need learn more about your culture to narrow the culture difference. In China there is a proverb says” it takes ten years to grow a tree while one hundred to human. “ It tells us a teacher should have special quality and a wealth of knowledge accumulation. As a Normal University student .We are try our best to do this well. We now hope that more opportunities are supplied .In this way not only can foreigners learn more about Chinese culture but also to strengthen the link among the world.
    Finally, our thanks go to Mr. Watkins. May you have a good time in China.

  • 189 Annie Yu // Oct 21, 2009 at 6:42 am

    What a wonderful article. As a college student in Mianyang Normal University, I really appreciate your article’s opinions.
    The first time I met you was when you gave a lecture to the students of Mianyang Normal University. I was really impressed by your passion to our country, and I was also surprised that you have travelled to more places in China than I did.
    In my opinion, ‘Planting Chinese seeds’ is a wonderful project. As you said, China is changing as the changing of the world. So it is the time for building a bridge between China and Michigan. Even though we are in different location and different culture, I believe that China and America can cooperate very well, and I also believe that Chinese and American will get to know each other better than before if the bridge is built.
    We all know how important it is to teach Chinese language and culture to the foreigners. I hope that I can do some useful things for this goal, and it is one of my reasons to choose this major, teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
    Thank you for your outstanding article and the work you do for China and Michigan. Thank you for making a good example for us.

  • 190 Tiefu Zhong // Oct 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

    That is wonderful aritlcl I never seen, which attract America people try to deeply understand China today. I very interest in you are building the bright between China and USA. and I ‘d like to contrbute myself to this significant progress with you.

  • 191 Li Zhu // Oct 25, 2009 at 12:48 am

    I am nice to meet you, Tom. I come from Mianyang Normal University. Now I am a junior student of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign language Major. Some days ago, I had been confused to my future, I didn’t know which way I would go. When I saw my classmates work hard for their dreams, I was so anxious to my future, what can I do? But yesterday, I talked to my friends these, I seemed to see something. In China, many students go their way as their parents and relatives, like me. But from now on, I will go the way as my feeling. I choose the major, just want to help more and more foreigners know Chinese culture and widen my eyes.
    Tom, thank you for building the bridge between China and America,and providing the opportunity to those persons devoting to the meaningful thing.

  • 192 susan sherbout // Oct 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I was reading Tom Watkins incredible blog ( where he writes of China and his time spent building economic and education links and he also talks of the tourism links being created by Mr. Koralo Chen, of Motown Travel.
    Mr. Watkins timing is perfect!!
    This is an incredible article and should be must reading for all leaders in Michigan!
    I also happen to stop by the above mentioned gathering at The Henry Ford on tourism where Mr. Watkins was the most knowledgable person and spoke so eloquently on China and Michigan. He spoke of creative ways to make China work for Michigan..
    Mr. Watkins has been driving this issue harder than anyone with the sheer force of ideas and encouraging words.
    Imagine what could be — or how much better off this state could be — IF IF Mr. Watkins were in charge of economic development for our state

    It’s time for Michigan to roll out the welcome wagon to china .. and please send this article to anyone who cares about our state. People who love it and want the best — people willing to stand up and take a stand on something so important — people like Tom Watkins

  • 193 KP CHEN // Nov 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Traditional (ancient) Chinese cultures, people do not punish the weak and the suffereing, underdogs usually get some leeways, if not financially, then it is generally or psychologically.

    American cultures, predominately dominated in financial industries and legal obsturities, tend to borrow verses expediently from the Gospel, to justify their covert “thefts”, plunders and blunders.

    Bridge to anything, honestly engaged, use both brain and emotions, will uncover, the darkness of A. B, C plus X, Y and Z.

    Frustration and enlightening.

  • 194 Helena Cao // Nov 13, 2009 at 5:51 am

    As a Chinese business person who dedicates on bringing quality products and service from US to China, I have too many successful examples to demonstrate how much China needs US, the needs are penetrating on all areas and even beyond the financial substances.

    China has been opened up its door to the west for so long time, whats hesitation from the US to be more open minded? We have learnt to be open minded from Americans, what’s wrong with you now?

  • 195 Michigan Democratic Leadership Ignores Trading With China As Renault-Nissan Turns Over A New LEAF Of Trade Worth Billions. | The Centrist // Nov 23, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    [...] Read More.. [...]

  • 196 Bob Leonard // Dec 27, 2009 at 10:25 am

    To: Editor
    re: comment by KP Chen

    >Michigan could become US’s Shenzhen, the >special zone, unique, amazing and creative.

    Could you please send my e-mail address to KP Chen, I know some folks– who have plans to do just that, create a sort of Shenzhen enterprise zone experiment here in Michigan.

  • 197 Dan Redford // Jan 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Opportunities to help build Bridge to China that Tom talks about in his article will certainly present themselves at the Shanghai World Expo this summer. Check out to get real time information about the expo from the viewpoint of two young Michigan State college grads.

  • 198 Greg Nance // Feb 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks to Daniel Redford for the forward. Excellent article that I will pass along to friends and colleagues!
    Greg Nance

  • 199 Xuhang Wang // Feb 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Indeed a great article. I wish we could have clean water, clean air, and almost pristine environment in China soon and I know that we couldn’t get there without cooperations with other nations, especially the United States.

    But there is one thing, Tom, as a Chinese student myself, I would like to point out. Chinese education, not only the system itself, but also the overall quality of the “products” this education generates, is really nothing compared to the American education system and its “products”. We, Chinese, are far behind and that’s why we are working so hard to improve the education system. But that is far from making us a threat to the States, at least I believe so.

  • 200 Troy Potene // Mar 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    What a thoughtful and complete essay on what is going on– or not going on — in Michigan with regards to the fastest growing world economy that the US is in hock to!

    As someone who has been traveling to China for many years and have witnessed the changes I encourage all in Michigan and the US to wake up and heed the words not only from Tom Watkins– but the many thoughtful comments offered to his orginal article.

    Some how thinking that the world as we know it is going to somehow return — is simply foolish. We are going to have to compete with other nations to maintain the lifestyle we have taken for granted for far too many year.

    Michigan has much to offer the world– but this is going to require our leaders to pull their heads out of the sand and market our state to the world. As Mr. Watkins points out, we have much to offer the Chinese and we are capable of competing on the world stage.

    We need to be investing in innovation, creativity, entreprenurialism, knowledge and talent–and stop the silly poltics when it comes to China and other places around the globe.

    The world has changed– it is about time Michigan attempted to catch up.

  • 201 Biliping // Mar 2, 2010 at 7:47 am

    As a Chinese business person, i believe that China and America can work togeter. the author has a solid understanding of the Chinese history, people and culture. Let’s hope that we can build a strong two way bridge that helps two great countries grow and prosper.

  • 202 janie brown // Mar 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    The way to Michigan’s future is through China..India.. Brazil.. those who think otherwise need to get out of the way

  • 203 joe chen // Mar 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Mr. Watkins is so very right.. He understands China like few other Americans.. Keep up the wonderful work

  • 204 Kelly Zhou // Mar 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Mr Tom Watkins has written a very important work. He should be commended for being brace and writing the truth for people in China and America

  • 205 kelly work // Mar 2, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    china will be a vital part of Michigan’s fture and Mr. Watkins has captured it so beautifully

  • 206 Tresa // Apr 12, 2010 at 8:12 am

    This is a very thoughtful commentary on what is going on in China and how Michigan and America should be positioning itself to benefit from China’s efforts.
    I was doing research on China for a paper due and I continued to come across Tom Watkins writings on the subject that led me to this site. Not only is his orginal writing of interest — the comments are just as enlightening.
    I will be coming back to Dome and seeing what new things I can learn that are going on in our state in the futue– thank you.

  • 207 Magazines // May 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Great magazine, guys.

  • 208 Magazine Subscriptions // May 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Keep up the good work on the magazine.

  • 209 Alex // Jun 21, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    An amazing article!

    Now, what has happened since this was written to implement these ideas? Surely, the Gov or Leg have picked up the ideas in the base of the essay or from the thoughtful comments and begun to implement them– right?

    I thought so. It seems that Michigan has become the place where good ideas come to die.

    Sad– without a vision– we will surely parish!

  • 210 Tim // Jul 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Just read the most recent article by Watkins and saw the link to this– scary how fast China is changing and how much change we need in Michigan and America.

    We better come to grips with how the world has changed– or we are sunk!

  • 211 Cindy // Aug 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    This is amazing. I was doing some research on China and its impact on Michigan and found this to be one of the most helpful articles.

    It clearly points out the problems– but, more importantly, what Michigan should be doing to prosper in these changing times.

    Most of the stuff I found was “Pro China” or so “Pro America” that it was unbelieveable— this is a realistic assessment of where we stand– not sugar coated and lays out a roadmap of what Michigan can and should be doing.

    Watching the China trash talk heating up again in the Gov’s race between the Lansing Mayor and the Nerd Business guy— the Nerd would be wise to print this article and hand it out when ever the anti China stuff is spoken.

  • 212 Ryan Cloud // Aug 30, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Mr. Watkins has done a tremendous job of outlining the current realities of our economic situation as it pertains to China. Whether we in Michigan like it or not, China will not be going away. As China has recently surpassed Japan to become the world’s number two economy, we need to realize that China is a true economic force. We cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand to this reality.

    Once we accept this reality, we can see the opportunity that it presents to us here in Michigan. As Mr. Watkins eloquently points out, we must adapt and find ways to profit from China’s rise. With the unprecedented amount of investment capital available in China, it is imperative that we lure Chinese investors to Michigan.

    Mr. Watkins also hits the nail on the head when it comes to education. I was lucky enough to grow up in a school system where Chinese was offered starting in middle school and also participated in school organized trips to China. This ultimately has led me, as well as many other classmates, to pursue a career focused on China. Getting more students to follow this path will be crucial to the future success of Michigan’s economy. If we hope to do business with China, we must first understand China.

    I sincerely hope those in power heed Mr. Watkins’s advice. China’s stock is on the rise and if the right steps are taken, Michigan can stand to profit from that rise.

  • 213 Eleana Eccelstone // Nov 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    This article was hot linked by another article I just read in the Ann Arbor News my the same author on: Global Trade/Michigan Jobs. Both were wonderful reads and chalked full of info.

  • 214 Chris Burger // Dec 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm


  • 215 Michigan and The Nation Is Plagued By An Economic Andromeda Strain Of FUNEMPLOYMENT Which Is So Not NEET? Is Their A Cure? // Jan 18, 2011 at 11:18 am

    [...] and China and served as Michigan’s state superintendent of schools from 2001-2005. His “Bridge to China” cover story appeared in Dome in [...]

  • 216 Global exports — another way to grow Michigan’s jobs // Jan 25, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    [...] rise for our gain. (See China Bridge — Michigan/Stop whining and start building — The ideas await our new governor’s [...]

  • 217 Tim Hunter // Sep 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Amazingly insightful and foreshadowed much of what has played out here and in China since writing this piece a few years back.

    I wish I would have seen this article when it was orginally written. As someone doing business here in Michigan and in China i found it very helpful.

    All the new col’s in 2011 offer a perspective on this wide ranging country that will impact everything going forward.

  • 218 Casio Collection Herren-Armbanduhr Leder Analog schwarz BEM-116L-1AVEF - Armbanduhr überprüfen - Die Armbanduhren // Jan 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    [...] Herrenarmbanduhr Funk Leder 732XLTLM-GBridge to China#header { background: [...]

  • 219 Eric Hang // Jun 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

    This should be assigned reading to everyone in Michigan/America.

    We need to wake up and realize it is a big world out there and simply because Michigan/America has held a high pearch– there is nothing to say we get to stay here— we need to earn our place each and everyday.

    I am glad a friend sent me this essay– a must read!

  • 220 christina // Sep 16, 2012 at 5:22 am

    i worked on blanchard campaign in 90. receptionist now needing advice on china. email me please, moving back to michigan.

Leave a Comment:

Be sure to put in the security words and hit SUBMIT


(does not appear on post) * Required