Under the clear blue skies of a phenomenal Maryland Spring Day, MCBC representatives found a great reason to venture into the District of Columbia to the US Chamber of Commerce China Business 2008. The event was hosted at the Chamber’s HQ on H Street.
Although held during a painful time for China, with solemn condolences echoed throughout the program for the victims of the recent earthquake, the Chamber’s event (one of several on a travel tour), was rich and substantial in content and attendance (and donuts).
The roster alone was enough to impress even these event-hardened veterans. First, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, Mr. Zhou Wenzhong was the honored and featured guest. Mr. Zhou provided a broad overview and fielded several questions from the audience and from a few press folks in attendance. He touched on US-China trade relations, progress and challenges facing China and concerns about matters that affect the business climate. And got his picture taken.
American experts also were featured from many parts of the US and Asia. A delegation of representative from the American Chambers of Commerce in China, Shanghai, and South China provided ‘on the ground’ advice and guidance and perspective about the current state of affairs. Things are, by all accounts, quite busy in Cathay.
The luncheon speaker, Mr. William Weidner, President and COO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, provided an overview of the Beijing-located Adelson Center, financed by Sands Casino owner gazillionaire Sheldon Adelson. The center boasts meeting and conference facilities to promote engagement and cooperation with China. Of particular note and importance is the center’s goal of providing support to the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (I’ll take some of that!). The partnership with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), which is THE largest trade association in Zhong Guo, provides the Adelson Center with an impressive access to thousands of companies.
In addition, there were numerous government and industry from DC and its environs, emceed by Mr. Myron Brilliant, VP for Asia US Chamber of Commerce. A complete agenda is found here: PROGRAM. Check out the list of experts.
Our very own Andy Dubosky, President of the MCBC hosted the Session: China Business Resources for DC, MD and VA and featured Mr. William Zarit, of the US Department of Commerce, Ms. Judy Zakreski, VP US Operations for Chindex (long-standing MCBC member. Thanks Judy!), Mr. Bradley Gillenwater, MD Department of Business and Economic Development (and long-standing MCBC Member. Thanks Brad!). Mr. Weidner capped Andy’s session with his overview of the Adelson Center.
Some of the parts that were particularly interesting (at least to this observer) included the comments of Mr. Norwell Coquillard, President Cargill Investments who made the observation (paraphrased) that ‘we have 35 plants in China and it has been difficult, but we are successful.’ Wow, that makes me feel a heck of a lot better, that is, if Cargill is challenged, then what about us guys who have to stay in the 3-star hotels? Ah well.
Other comments echoed throughout the day repeated similar themes, but given the program’s constituency, the fact that ‘China is not just an opportunity but a necessity’ (Mr. Ted Dean of BDA) is something that certainly is on the minds of the MCBC members. We get it. The inter-relation of two great countries is kind of a like running a three-legged race: without coordination, we’ll fall flat on our faces.
It wasn’t just a love-fest (although there were many of our good friends there). Difficult issues were discussed such as: energy demands and policy, currency normalization and IP Rights (we tip-toed around Tibet) as well as difficulties and opportunities-lost by the stringent visa strictures in place by the federal government. The Honorable Mr. Jim Moran, Congressman from the Commonwealth had a few things to say about that and the impetus is on those of us that encourage open dialogue and further engagement oughter pen a note to our representatives, if only to get a little satisfaction from self-expression. The good news on that front is there is a Memorandum of Understanding that has been signed by the Department of Commerce and China to facilitate travel. May some of this goodwill percolate further afield.
By and large, a wholly-productive event. If you want more information, contact the US Chamber. There is a web-streaming archive of the event here: CHINA BUSINESS 2008. It’s almost like being there, except for the coffee and pastries.
See you at the next event: It’s all about Outsourcing.
Click on this: China’s Rise on the Value Chain.