From Worcester to China

In early October I flew the 6:00 AM jetBlue flight out of Worcester to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York City. The plane landed at JFK in under an hour. While at JFK, I took out my IPAD and along with my cell phone worked for much of the day.  At 3:00 PM I began the short process of boarding a plane to Beijing, China, where I would join a small group of Chamber of Commerce leaders who I would accompany on an inspection tour of China. The inspection tour was a visit to explore whether our respective Chambers of Commerce would be interested in hosting a group tour at a later date. These tours are facilitated by Citslinc, International, which works closely with Chambers across the United States and Canada. After a very smooth flight (12 1/2 hours) we landed in Beijing, China at approximately 8:00 PM where we were greeted by our hosts and tour guides. We quickly boarded our tour bus and were off to a beautiful hotel where we would prepare for a full day of meetings and sightseeing visits the following day. The trip from Worcester to Beijing reinforced that from Worcester Regional Airport people can travel from Worcester to virtually anywhere in the world. These flight options will grow next summer when Delta adds daily flights to Detroit. This will give Worcester daily connections to major hubs in New York City, Philadelphia, Orlando and Detroit.

Recently is has become very difficult to read a newspaper or online news report or turn on the TV or radio and not hear about trade tariff disputes between the United States and China or the military tensions in the South China Sea. The reality is that the two nations represent the two largest economies in the world and tensions will occur. In this regard, while it is important to address legitimate issues of trade inequities, industrial espionage and free and open access to international shipping lanes and fly zones as well as human rights, it is imperative that leaders between the two countries strive to find common ground and trade balances as a stable world order is key to the growth of both nations.

One of the means for us to do so is to have government, business, and citizens of both countries learn about the history and cultures of each other’s societies. China is one of the earliest civilizations known to mankind with dynastic monarchies ruling the country for centuries before modern day China took form in the post-World War II era led by the Chinese Communist Party. Our trip allowed us to visit many of these historic locations and with our knowledgeable tour guides, gain an understanding of how many of these ancient sites and traditions influence modern China to this current day.  These locations include the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Ming Tombs.  We also visited the Capitol city of Beijing, as well as Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. 

As previously mentioned, trade between our two countries is significant. China is the United States’ third largest trading partner. China, with a population of approximately 1.415 billion people sent 19% of all their exports to the Unites States in 2017, which was valued at $431.7 billion. During that same year the Unites States, with an approximate population of 326.766 million, sent 8.4% of all U.S. exports to China which was valued at approximately $130.4 billion.  The United States’ top trading partner is Canada, with a population of about 37 million people. The Unites States sends 18.3 % of its exports valued at $282.5 billion to Canada. The United States second largest trading partner is Mexico, where the Unites States sends 15.7% of all its exports valued at $243 billion. Mexico’s population is about 130.759 million.

According to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, by 2030, China will be the most popular tourist country in the world. They will surpass both the United States and France in this regard. Currently, tourism represents about 11% of China’s GDP and employees 28.3 million people. Our visit underscored this growing trend, in that the Chinese government recognizes that their rich history and growing economy serve dual purposes in bringing visitors to China. Our trip reinforced the effort that the Chinese have undertaken to grow their tourism industry. This includes major investments in transportation infrastructure such as new airports, the largest investment in high-speed rail in the world that links all corners of China together, as well as scores of new roads and bridges. Witnessing these massive investments in transportation, makes clear the need for the United States to do the same if we are going to stay competitive in a growing world economy that includes a modern China. The Chinese government recognizes that a first class transportation infrastructure goes hand and hand with building and maintaining a strong economy. Moreover, as Chinese history demonstrates through things such as the Great Wall, the Chinese have always been willing to undertake large infrastructure projects for the betterment of their nation. Historically, the American people have had the same will as well.

Overall the trip was an excellent experience that gave great insight into China’s history, modern day economy and business climate, transportation investments and perspective of the Chinese people in a new China. As a fellow world super power, the more that we as Americans can understand this perspective, the better able we will be to navigate the challenges that will invariably arise between our two nations, and continue to maintain U.S. economic, diplomatic, and military leadership in world affairs. To learn more about this trip you are invited to attend an information session on December 5 at 5:30 pm at the Worcester Chamber, 311 Main Street, suite 2. A light dinner will be served. Also, please go to our website at WorcesterChamber.org to learn more. This trip is open to both Chamber members and non-members. To RSVP for the information session, please email Alex Guardiola at [email protected] or call him at 508-753-2924 x 222.

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