[Blog] Building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with China

Governor Snyder signs memorandum of understanding

By Dave Murray

August 26, 2015

This blog is part of a series of blogs that deputy press secretary Dave Murray is writing about Governor Snyder's investment mission to China.  Read the blog and follow the hashtag #InvestInMI to stay up to date on the Governor's investment mission.

It’s important to change the perception of China as part of ongoing efforts to build relationships and create investment opportunities that benefit both sides, China’s deputy minister of commerce told Gov. Rick Snyder.

China’s leaders welcomed the Michigan governor and his delegation, and frequently cited the importance of building relationships over time as the country and state explore paths to benefit both economically.

Chinese leaders at several levels and at several stops praised Snyder for making the effort to build relationships that will lead to more and better jobs through expanded markets for Michigan-made products and more Chinese companies setting up shop in Michigan.

Already, China – a nation with 1.3 billion people, is Michigan’s third-largest export partner, behind Mexico and Canada.

On Tuesday Snyder met at China’s Ministry of Commerce, sitting at the middle of a long and imposing conference table, flanked by members of the Michigan delegation. Across the table – and separated by small American and Chinese flags -- sat Deputy Minister Zhong Shan and other top leaders from the central government and provinces.

Together, they signed an agreement that enables the Michigan and the jurisdictions to increase cooperation and carry out exchanges in industry and agriculture, economic activities and trade, science and technology, culture and education, sports and health, travel and tourism, and other fields.

During a formal but friendly exchange before and after the brief signing ceremony, the Chinese leaders said they feared people in America don’t quite understand China – thinking either that the most populous nation is becoming a powerful threat or that the country was poor with long outdated images of its people.

The truth, they said, is that China is neither as strong nor formidable as Americans might think, and is not as weak and poor as they might imagine.

Describing China as a peace-loving, industrialized nation, they said they appreciated that Snyder – in his fifth trade mission to the country – continues to visit and work to build those relationships that can serve both.

Snyder said it’s critically important to continue talking respectfully, being positive and proactive to avoid misunderstandings.

“In some ways, it’s like a marriage,” he said. “The more you talk and spend time together, the better off you are.”

The governor later met with State Councilor Yang Jiechi at Zhongnanhai, the imperial garden in central Beijing that is the central headquarters for China’s central government.

Then on Wednesday, Snyder, met with Vice Governor Xu Ruisheng of Guangdong Province and his cabinet. Ruisheng, at length and with great enthusiasm, described Michigan, its sports teams and music.

“We’re going to have to invite you to appear in a Pure Michigan commercial,” Snyder joked.