China hand urges direct isle flights
STORY SUMMARY »
A nationally recognized expert on China told Hawaii business leaders and government officials yesterday that Hawaii needs to be more aggressive in developing business opportunities in China.
Jerome A. Cohen, a New York University law professor and senior fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke at the Hawaii Business Magazine's "Top 250" yesterday in Waikiki.
"The time is ripe, but Hawaii has to get active," said Cohen who is a specialist in business law relating to Asia and has represented many foreign companies in contract negotiations and dispute resolutions in China, Vietnam and other countries.
Cohen recommends that Hawaii establish direct flights from Honolulu to major Chinese cities, encourage students, businesses and government officials to learn Mandarin and create networks and occasions that bring Chinese leaders to the state.
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Jerome A. Cohen, New York University law professor and senior fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Hawaii businesses and government officials yesterday that energy, environment and education are the best areas for Hawaii to develop its ties with China.
Cohen, a nationally recognized expert on China, was the keynote speaker at the Hawaii Business Magazine's "Top 250" held yesterday at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort. He is a specialist in business law relating to Asia and has represented many foreign companies in contract negotiations and dispute resolutions in China, Vietnam and other countries.
"Hawaii is not an industrial state, by and large, so it has to turn a vice into a virtue," Cohen said. "Energy, environment and education are the principal areas that China and Hawaii can achieve new cooperation. The time is ripe, but Hawaii has to get active."
Since 1979, China has relied on foreign money to finance its development, and as of 2006, has seen $70 billion in foreign investment, he said.
"No one foresaw the extent that China would rely on foreign investment, but they've stuck to this policy of welcoming foreign businesses," Cohen said. "And, what we've seen is a massive reinvestment year after year and China increasing their reliance on it for money and training and skills."
In recent years, China has been moving away from the manufacturing of cheap goods and toward high tech, better electronics and services, Cohen said. However, China's ability to conserve energy and preserve its environment as well as educate its workforce is critical to the accomplishment of these new goals, he said.
"Energy is China's biggest problem," Cohen said. "I think Hawaii should look for Chinese partners to expand green developments that are currently being used here. The process could be developed here and manufactured there."
China could also learn from Hawaii's expertise in preserving its environment and culture against the onslaught of tourism, he said.
"Hawaii has had to learn to preserve its own environment for business reasons," Cohen said. "Hawaii could advise China on how to make its tourism sites and hotels more attractive. Hawaii could also (advise) China on how to better showcase its culture and traditions."
The current climate in China also offers many opportunities for Hawaii educators, he said.
"In the past the Chinese government put very little money into higher education and is now trying to regroup," Cohen said.
While Hawaii is uniquely positioned because of its geography and its sister relationships with the Guangdong and Hainan Provinces and friendship state relationships with the Yunnan Province and the Tianjin Municipality, it faces much competition from other U.S. states and countries that also want to develop stronger business ties with China, he said.
Establishing direct flights from Honolulu to major Chinese cities, encouraging students, businesses and government officials to learn Mandarin and creating networks and occasions that bring Chinese leaders to Hawaii will position the state to take advantage of the current opportunities in China.