china

Vacant lot in Detroit.
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss Gov. Rick Snyder’s Asia trip, the financial status of Michigan’s schools, and a new plan to sell Detroit land.


Rick Snyder / Flickr

Governor Snyder leaves for China today on his fourth trade mission to Asia. Tom Watkins has spent many years, in many different roles, campaigning for stronger ties between China and Michigan.

Watkins says Governor Snyder has two goals for this trip: promote Michigan goods and services, and attract foreign direct investment (FDI). China has plans to invest $1 trillion around the world, so it is important for Governor Snyder to attract FDI in order to create new jobs and opportunities within the state, says Watkins.

Watkins says there is a chance to develop a good relationship with China, as Chinese car companies have set up several R&D plants in southeast Michigan.. There are also a number of international students from China at state universities here. But Watkins warns it's not quick or easy work. "Doing business in China is not an economic one night stand," said Watkins. "You can’t just do one trip there.” Listen to our conversation with Watkins below:


Today on Stateside:

  • Road funding is once again being discussed in Lansing, but Chris Kolb says we need to think beyond just fixing roads and bridges. Find out where he thinks the state should invest more of its money.
  • A good meal can become a great meal if the restaurant has the right ambiance. For example, good music can improve the overall experience. But what about the other way around? Interlochen Public Radio’s David Cassleman talks about a conductor and chef who are teaming up in Traverse City to find out.
  • Ypsilanti singer-songerwriter and Civil War history buff Matt Jones has a new album out called “The Deep Enders.” See what he has to say about his Civil War influences and song writing for “The Deep Enders.”
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming trip to China to coax companies to expand in Michigan won't be cheap, but economic development officials say the money is well spent and producing results.

The governor's last investment mission to Asia cost $251,000 and a concurrent trade trip totaled $173,000. Expenses included flights, lodging, other travel, meals, gifts and receptions.

  Nearly $219,000 of the bill for Snyder's trip was covered with money Michigan receives from American Indian casinos' gambling profits.

User: Robert Heese / Flickr

Global automakers look to China to rev up their global sales, but growth in China's car sales slowed again in September. 

According to The Detroit Free Press, sales in passenger vehicles in China rose 6.4% in September from a year earlier, slowing from 8% in August and 13.9% in May. 

John McElroy is an auto analyst and host of the Autoline Daily webcast. He says the numbers are direct indicators of the economic health of the Chinese economy, which seems to be cooling down.

Center for Zoo Animal Welfare

Top officials from the Detroit Zoological Society are headed to Beijing, where they’ll lead a workshop for senior staff from China’s three largest zoos.

CEO Ron Kagan is touring the zoos in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to scope out current animal care practices there.

Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter says Kagan will brief the team on his findings in Beijing, so they have a good sense of where the Chinese zoos stand going into the four-day workshop.

Since Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, there have been lots of stories going around about major Chinese money pouring into city real estate.The headlines tend to read something like: “China is buying up Detroit.”

In truth, there’s not much hard evidence to support that kind of dramatic claim.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s Mardi Gras time. But there’s a warning for people who want to ‘Let the Good Times Roll’.

People will go to great lengths to grab a necklace of Mardi Gras beads. But the Ecology Center’s Jeff Gearhart says they should think twice.

The Ann Arbor environmental group tested beads from different sources and found many contained high amounts of highly toxic substances,

user vaxomatic / flickr

In China, more and more cities are seeing their streets filled with smog as cars and power stations pollute the air. One response by the Chinese government is to launch a major push for cleaner renewable energy. China is now the world's leading producer of wind power and it has plans to install thousands of turbines every year, especially in the remote regions in the country's far west.

That's where the BBC's science editor David Shukman is, and he sent us this report.

Listen to the full audio above.

Last month, Governor Rick Snyder called for less coal power and more renewable energy in Michigan. Utilities are in a good position, but questions remain over whether lawmakers will be able to act before the state's current energy standards expire. We found out more on today's show.

Then, of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14% are women. Why do some female scientists give up? And what can be done to help female students and minorities succeed?

And, we heard from the BBC on how China had become the world leader for wind power.

Also, a group of “free skiers” have found a new ski location in the abandon buildings of Detroit.

First on the show, it's Thursday, time for the first check-in of this New Year with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Understandably, he has the auto industry on his mind as we prepare for next week's opening of the North American International Auto Show. He got an early look at the show, and he joined us today to discuss it.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder is trying to convince business leaders in China to take more chances on Michigan.

Snyder's office says he met Friday with executives from the Chinese parent company of Menominee-based Enstrom Helicopters and government officials in Chongqing.

He says Michigan offers tremendous opportunities for companies outside the United States to make foreign investment and expand globally.

Snyder left Michigan Wednesday on the 10-day mission to China and Japan. It's his third trade trip to Asia.

The auto industry has been forever linked to the city of Detroit, but if that's the case, why is Detroit seeing such financial hardships while U.S. automakers are enjoying a boom?

On today's show we discuss the not-so-entwined Big Three and Detroit.

Then, Governor Snyder visits China . We'll find out why he's pushing so hard for a relationship between eastern Asia and Michigan.

But first, speaking in Sweden today, President Obama said responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria's government is the "moral thing to do." The President is on a three-day trip in Sweden and Russia for the G-20 summit. This is happening while senior officials in his administration are working to get support for intervention in Congress. 

Today we continue to get the view from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Yesterday on Stateside we heard from Republican Congressman Justin Amash and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. Now we turn to Democratic Representative Sander Levin to explain why he supports a targeted and focused response.

Official portrait

Earlier today, Rick Snyder landed in China for his third trade trip since becoming Michigan's governor.

He has scheduled stops in China and Japan during the week-and-a-half-long mission that starts today, and he's accompanied by at least 15 representatives from Michigan companies.

It's all part of the on-going effort to attract Asian investment in Michigan and strengthen trade relationships.

Snyder isn't guaranteeing that jobs will be created from this trip, but says he feels good that new business will occur as a result of the face-to-face meetings.

The Governor is also turning to tourism, putting an emphasis on selling "Pure Michigan" as a destination to Chinese tourists.

The trip is being paid for by donations to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, not by taxpayers.

Tom Watkins has been instrumental in strengthening ties between Michigan and China, and has traveled to China dozens of times since his first trip in 1989. He joined us today to talk about this trade mission.

Listen to the full interview above.

cncphotos / flickr

It's Wednesday, the morning we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics.

This week Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the approval of a Medicaid expansion in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder's trade mission to Asia, and Duggan becoming the official front runner of the Detroit mayoral race.

michigan.org

Gov. Rick Snyder is making his way to Asia on Wednesday, in an attempt to sell China and Japan on all things “Pure Michigan.”

This will be Snyder’s third trip to eastern Asia as governor. This time around, the governor is not only attempting to build business relationships with China and Japan, but also trying to pitch the Great Lakes State as a new American destination for Asian tourists.

Expanding the “Pure Michigan” campaign to international tourists is a relatively new endeavor for the state. Just this February, the state allocated an additional $4 million to the program for the sole purpose of bringing in foreign travelers.

And perhaps with good reason. In 2012, Chinese tourists beat out their American and German counterparts as the world’s top international tourist spenders. In just that year, Chinese sightseers spent $104 billion on global travel.

But will Michigan ever bypass popular U.S. travel destinations, like Times Square or San Francisco?

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder in China next week

Next week Governor Snyder will travel to Asia on a third economic development mission to the region.  MLive.com reports that he will visit China and Japan to “market the state's export offerings, promote Michigan as a tourist destination, and convince Chinese business leaders that Detroit, despite its bankruptcy filing, is still a good place to invest." Funds for the business trip come from the Michigan Economic Growth Foundation.

Building inspectors charged with bribery

Yesterday Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette charged seven Detroit building inspectors with bribery.  Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports that Schuette says “inspectors took bribes to overlook code violations – in some cases, going to the lengths of falsifying architectural plans.” An investigation led by the Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force and the FBI led to yesterday’s charges.

Washtenaw program may provide ID cards for undocumented immigrants

Washtenaw County is considering a program that would issue identification cards to all its residents, including undocumented immigrants.  The Washtenaw County Board Chairman says that while undocumented immigrants are a large group of people affected by the ID program, they would not be the only ones to benefit.  Yousef Rabhi says “it could apply to immigrants; it could apply to folks that are homeless; it could apply to folks that are transgender and who don't believe that the male/female designation on the current state ID is representative of who they really are.”

Philip Jägenstedt / Flickr

When it comes to economic growth and finding an economic partner, it seems that Michigan and China are discovering a lot to like about each other.

Look at the numbers:  last year, Michigan exported $3.2 billion worth of goods and services to China, just behind Canada and Mexico. And Michigan is one of the top ten states for direct investment from China. We were on the receiving end of more than $917 million in capitol from China in 2012.

Tom Watkins is the former State School Superintendent and former State Mental Health Director, and a frequent traveler to China. And Michael Barris is a reporter from the China Daily’s U.S. edition.

They joined us today to talk about what China and Michigan have to offer each other.

Listen to the full interview above.

When it comes to economic growth and finding an economic partner, it seems Michigan and China have a serious relationship. Last year, Michigan exported more than $3 billion worth of goods and services to China, only behind Canada and Mexico. We took a look at these economic ties and what they mean for the future.

And, we met a 17-year-old who is trying to keep her community clean, one trash bag at a time.

Also, we spoke with Bruce Katz, vice president of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the new book “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy,” about rebuilding Detroit.

First on the show, tomorrow is primary election day. Detroit's primary is getting most of the attention, but there are local elections happening in many areas of the state on Tuesday.

In Flint, voters are choosing among two dozen candidates to fill largely powerless city council seats.

Flint has been under the control of an emergency manager since December of 2011. But while Flint city council members wield little power now, that may soon change.

Flint is taking steps to come out from under state oversight and that could happen late next year, so the Flint city council members elected from the field of Tuesday’s primary candidates may eventually have actual power to shape their city.

Voters are also casting primary ballots in parts of Lansing, Jackson, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

In all, voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

In Detroit, the stakes have never been higher because of the bankruptcy.

Detroit Free Press editorial writer Nancy Kaffer joined us today to give us a preview of the election.

automotiveauto.info

This morning, the New York Times reported on the slow and steady increase of Chinese companies setting up in metro-Detroit.

The NYT's Bill Vlasic reports it has been a largely unannounced trend – and given the public opposition experienced by Japanese automakers – it is most likely an intentionally quiet entrance.

Chinese-owned companies are investing in American businesses and new vehicle technology, selling everything from seat belts to shock absorbers in retail stores, and hiring experienced engineers and designers in an effort to soak up the talent and expertise of domestic automakers and their suppliers.

Overall, most Chinese suppliers are interested in expanding their direct business with Detroit car companies. Many Detroit car companies rely on low-wage countries like Mexico to get common car parts. Chinese companies are trying to change that.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Michigan company has been charged in a scheme federal officials have dubbed ‘Honeygate.’

Michigan-based Groeb Farms is one of the nation’s largest honey suppliers.   The company buys honey in 42 states and around the world.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Groeb Farms and another honey supplier were involved in a scheme to dump Chinese honey in the United States. 

Federal officials say the Chinese honey was declared as other commodities and shipped through third countries. The defendants in the investigation dubbed "Project Honeygate" are accused of evading anti-dumping duties totaling more than $180 million.

Groeb Farms has agreed to pay a $2 million fine. 

“We take full responsibility for and deeply regret any errors that were made in the past regarding the import of honey,” said Groeb Farms CEO Rolf Richter in a written statement. 

Some of the honey contained antibiotics not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in honey.   None of the charges allege any instances of illness or other public health consequences attributed to consumption of the honey.

The investigation is continuing.

Chinese firm acquires bankrupt battery maker A123

Dec 10, 2012
A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc. / Facebook

A123, the bankrupt battery company with factories in Livonia and Romulus, announced Sunday that a Chinese firm will acquire most of its assets.

In an auction administered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Wanxiang Group Corp. purchased most of the company’s commercial business assets for $256.6 million.

The acquisition has some Republican lawmakers worried.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Stateside: Chinese cars yet to motor along U.S. roads

Dec 3, 2012
user Ritzo ten Cate / Wikimedia Commons

China continues to be the world’s largest automotive market.

However, Chinese car manufacturers are still several years away from putting their products in the U.S. market, according to Michael Dunne.

Dunne is the president of Dunne and Company, a strategic marketing group helping auto companies expand in Asia.

Dunne addressed the status of China’s car industry, citing economic tensions with Japan.

Stateside: Keeping an eye on China's elections

Nov 12, 2012
User Peng, Yanan / Wikipedia

Communist Party leaders are meeting in Beijing for an important shuffling of China’s leadership, including the selection of a new president.

Tom Watkins is the former state school superintendent and has been closely involved in building ties between Michigan and China. Tonight, he’s flying to Beijing to be present for the selection of China’s new president.

cncphotos / flickr

This week Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry talked about the lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. The lawsuit challenges Johnson’s instruction that voters who show up on Election Day should be asked whether they are US citizens. Shockley and Lessenberry also talked about Governor Rick Snyder's trade mission to China.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan No. 5 most obese state in the US

Michigan is now the fifth-most obese state in the nation. That's according to a study released yesterday by the Trust for America’s Health. The study also used data from the Centers for Disease Control to project obesity through the year 2030. The report says if habits don't change by then, about three out of every five

Snyder in China

Governor Rick Snyder left for a 10-day trade mission to China Tuesday. "Governor Snyder and members of his administration say he has two goals – to boost the more than two billion dollars a year in goods and services exported to China from Michigan, and to convince Chinese companies to make Michigan their U-S operational base," Rick Pluta reports. 

Detroit City Council says Belle Isle proposal is dead without changes

"It looks like a plan to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park has no shot with the Detroit City Council. The plan calls for the city to lease the park to the state for 30 years. The state would take over maintenance and make major, as-yet-unspecified upgrades to the island. But City Council members blasted the plan’s lack of detail. So far, Bing hasn’t laid out a contingency plan for dealing with Council resistance," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Governor Rick Snyder said this afternoon his office is planning a trade mission to Asia. 

Governor Snyder went on an 8-day trip to China, South Korea and Japan last fall. He says two new economic investments – one in Ann Arbor and one in Saginaw – are a direct result of that trip. Now he’s planning to go back to Asia to strengthen business ties there.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The United States has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against China over tariffs on U.S.-made vehicles.

The Obama administration says China unfairly placed duties of up to 22 percent on U.S.-made vehicles that are exported to China.

The tariffs apply to larger passenger cars and SUVs.

Lake Shore High School in St. Clair Shores, Mich., is pretty typical as American high schools go. Walking the halls, you find the quiet kids, the jocks and the artsy crowd.

But a visitor will also see what sets Lake Shore apart: The school's large number of exchange students from China. This year, more than 70 Chinese students are enrolled at Lake Shore, which has a total student population of 1,200.

The students are from the Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Experimental School, an elite, private K-12 boarding school in China's capital.

The Beijing auto show runs this week in what is now the world's largest car market, and a crucial one for Detroit companies.

General Motors just announced it will open 600 more dealerships in China, where it sells more cars than it does in the U.S. Last week, Ford announced construction of its fourth Chinese assembly plant.

For longtime American auto executives in China, witnessing the shift in the global auto industry is dramatic.

Mandiberg / Flickr

Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra wants to be your next Senator. He’s currently running in the GOP primary to try and unseat Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. Hoekstra’s campaign premiered a controversial ad yesterday that’s being called, “xenophobic,” “racially-insensitive” and a “mistake;” Hoekstra calls the ad, in which a young Chinese woman speaks broken English and thanks Senator Stabenow (in the ad, Stabenow is referred to as “Senator Spend-it-now") for helping the Chinese economy, “aggressive.”

As the political pundits are debating whether or not the ad is detrimental to the Hoekstra campaign – one thing is for sure: China-bashing is nothing new in Michigan.

While Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I usually talk state politics on Fridays, we just couldn’t ignore this story. So, take a listen as we dissect the ad and take a look back at past political ads that have targeted various politicians and their relationships with China.

And, for some visuals,  here are a few attack ads from the 2006 Michigan gubernatorial campaign:

Pages