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Thursday, May 19, 2005
Strengthening China ties might
THE ISSUEGovernor Lingle will lead an economic mission to China and South Korea next month.
How much of an influence the courtship of a small state will have in the worldwide competition for the favors of the growing economic powerhouse cannot be gauged at present. However, the state's audacious "nothing ventured, nothing gained" approach likely will yield value by taking advantage of its shared interests with China.
Though the group, led by Governor Lingle, also will visit South Korea, the main target clearly is China, principally to promote tourism and to sell Hawaii's expertise in the industry. While there, officials will open a business and tourism office in Beijing, Hawaii being one of only two U.S. states -- Nevada is the other -- the Chinese government has licensed for direct marketing of tourism.
Hawaii is among numerous destinations vying for a foothold in the Chinese market, which the World Tourism Organization estimates could reach 100 million visitors a year by 2020. In addition to luring visitors, the state is seeking to export its knowledge and experience in the industry as China escalates its own.
Besides tourism, the state hopes to advance technology collaboration through a development office at a Chinese tech park where Hawaii businesses can set up operations, and by providing similar space for Chinese companies here. The University of Hawaii and the state's film division also hope to cultivate interest in the islands.
A host of business representatives, from hotel companies such as Ko Olina Resorts to developers Castle & Cooke, will join the governor, UH president David McClain, economic development director Ted Liu and tourism liaison Marcia Wienert on the 10-day trip.
The venture, at a cost about $150,000 for 30 state officials, might prove to be a good investment for Hawaii, but returns will depend largely on U.S. relations with China.
At present, China and the United States are at odds on currency policies. The Bush administration has placed increased pressure on China to change its fixed exchange rate, blaming it for a trade deficit of $162 billion last year, the largest imbalance ever with a single country. The administration yesterday again placed new limits on imports of clothing from China, which flooded world markets after global textile quotas expired at the start of the year. The economic issues also bump up against political concerns since China is crucial to U.S. efforts to restrain North Korea's aggression.
In the global context, Hawaii's interests seem small. However, small mutual benefits can chip away at larger barriers.
|Dennis Francis, Publisher||Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
|Frank Bridgewater, Editor
|Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor
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