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steel bars
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On Friday, President Trump's first tariffs hit $34 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Beijing quickly responded with its own tariffs on equal amounts of American-made goods. Many believe that this back-and-forth between China and U.S. is the start of a trade war.

Imported steel and aluminum are one of the main targets of Trump’s latest tariffs. 

Dan Cooper is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. He sat down with Stateside's Cynthia Canty to discuss why these tariffs would have minimal effect on the U.S. if the country did a better job recycling its scrap metal. 

Wendell Brown teaching a group of Chinese people about American football
Courtesy of Antoinette Brown

Former Canadian Football League player and Detroit native Wendell Brown has been sentenced to four years in prison in China.

Brown moved to Chongqing, China to play for a startup American football league, but ended up coaching players instead.  

Wendell Brown teaching a group of Chinese people about American football
Courtesy of Antoinette Brown

In September, 2016, Detroit native Wendell Brown was having a drink with friends at a bar in China, when a drunk man threw a glass bottle at him, according to witnesses.

Brown, a former Ball State football star, was accused of throwing a punch and knocking the man down. He has denied he hit anyone.

His trial was last July. Brown's family has been waiting on a verdict ever since, but on Tuesday a decision was postponed yet again. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Detroit Economic Club.
U.S. State Department / via Twitter

The United States is taking a “really hard line on foreign practices that harm America,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Detroit Economic Club today.

dog97209 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

In 2009, it was official: China leapfrogged past the United States to become the largest auto market in the world.

The world's most populous country offers lots of opportunities for both domestic and foreign car makers, and Chinese automakers want to go global.

Michigan Governor's Office

Maybe no one mentioned it to you, but this has been Michigan-China week. Chinese officials and business people from six provinces have been visiting Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids.

Before we get to this week’s inaugural visit, let’s go over what’s happened in the last year and a half. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been sounding much more nationalist, and American President Donald Trump has been talking about tariffs on several Chinese imports.

President Trump
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Trump spent Saturday night rallying his supporters in Michigan.

The president told his Macomb County audience he had another invitation for Saturday night.

“You may have heard I was invited to another event tonight. The White House Correspondents Dinner,” Trump told the crowd, which began booing. “But I’d much rather be in Washington, Michigan than Washington, D.C. right now.”

The president talked about a wide range of topics, from de-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula to Michigan’s auto industry.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Chinese say they’re willing to change the rules that protect their precious auto industry. That’d be the industry companies like General Motors have spent a generation building with Chinese partners because, over there, he who controls the government rules.

Andrey Filippov 安德烈 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The news from Beijing this week is that China's President Xi Jinping is "open" to reducing the 25 percent tariffs on foreign-made cars, trucks, and SUVs. The leader is also open to full foreign ownership of auto companies in China.

It sounds like a big deal, but is it?

Detroit skyline with GM building
Pixabay.com

 


 

One month ago, President Trump tweeted, "Trade wars are good, and easy to win."

Tiangong 1
Rockey Raybell / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

Michigan’s emergency operations center is being activated Thursday in preparation for this weekend’s expected crash landing of a Chinese space station.

It is highly unlikely that any part of the space station that survives the reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere will land in Michigan. But the Michigan state police is getting ready just in case.

Someone once wrote that if you keep a diary and look back at what you wrote 20 years ago, you often find the stuff you thought was peripheral actually turned out to have been the most important. For example, you may have filled pages mooning over a now-forgotten Ralph or Susie, and just noted in passing a job that began your professional career.

News is like that too.

We don’t always see what’s most important. Most of us, so far as I can tell, are so focused on the daily clown show in Washington, that we are paying little attention to tremors in our nation’s growing relationship with China.

blue car fueling up at gas pump
Mike Mozart / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When your biggest customer talks, smart companies listen. For car makers, that customer is China.

So when China recently announced it's preparing to ban vehicles powered by fossil fuels, auto executives around the world quickly took notice.

Russell Padmore, a BBC business reporter, joined Stateside to talk about the future of the auto industry, and he says China’s not alone.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Forget the notion that the Chinese are coming to the auto industry near you. They’re already here.

Geely has controlled Sweden’s Volvo for seven years now. Tencent Holdings owns a five percent stake in Elon Musk’s Tesla. Pacific Century Motors acquired Delphi’s Saginaw-based steering division to create Nexteer Automotive Corp. And Chinese companies spent $140 billion last year on mergers and acquisitions, second only to the United States.

Rick Snyder and Terry Gou shaking hands
Michigan Governor's Office

 


A lot is happening with Michigan’s business relationship with China these days.

Shortly after losing out to Wisconsin for a massive new Foxconn facility, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a major tax incentive package designed to attract Foxconn and other foreign corporations to the state. Now, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant is rumored to have plans for a smaller facility in Michigan after all. 

Wendell Brown teaching a group of Chinese people about American football.
Courtesy of Antoinette Brown

The family of a Detroit native and former Canadian Football League player is hoping for word soon on the outcome of his criminal trial in China.

Wendell Brown has been sitting in a Chinese jail since getting into a bar fight last September. He waited 10 months to get a trial. He's now awaiting the judge's verdict on his assault charge.

Wendell Brown teaching a group of Chinese people about American football
Courtesy of Antoinette Brown

Former Detroit high school football star and Canadian Football League player Wendell Brown faces trial today in China for assault.

The Ford Focus
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company will export vehicles from China to the U.S. for the first time starting in 2019.

The company announced Tuesday the plan to export the next-generation Focus from China rather than Mexico, as previously planned. Production of the Focus will phase out of Wayne, Michigan in mid-2018.

Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford's global operations, says the move will save the auto maker $1 billion, including $500 million from canceling a new plant in Mexico that was intended to build the Focus.

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The Next Idea

Michigan's farmers and growers are always looking for new and bigger markets for their products. The Michigan Farm Bureau thinks they should look at China, where there is growing interest in what Michigan's farms have to offer.

A sign on a Dow Chemical Company building
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The proposed merger of Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont has cleared another regulatory hurdle.

Brazilian officials are the latest to give their blessing to the $130 billion merger of the chemical industry giants. The recommendation by Brazilian regulators still must be approved by an administrative tribunal, which is largely a formality.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The proposed merger of Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont has cleared another regulatory hurdle.

Chinese regulators are giving the merger ‘conditional’ approval.   The condition is DuPont divest some of its research and development department, along with assets tied to pesticides and herbicides used in rice.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Last night, Gov. Rick Snyder officially opened a new center aimed at increasing business between Michigan and China.

The Michigan-China Innovation Center’s goal is to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Michigan. 

Snyder says he’s met with representatives of several Chinese companies in recent weeks. He sees the trading partnership improving.

“I hope it’s easier in some fashion over the longer term, but we’re seeing a continuation good business flow in both directions,” says Snyder.

American and Chinese flags
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

President Donald Trump wants U.S. automakers to build their vehicles in the United States. U.S. carmakers want him to ease up on upcoming emissions regulations.

That's the framework for the president's visit with auto leaders today in Ypsilanti. The visit comes right on the heels of Ford's announcement that its luxury Lincoln unit will start building SUVs in China with a local partner.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The proposed merger of Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont may soon clear a critical hurdle.

European regulators may be close to approving the $130 billion merger. The European Commission has until April to make its final decision.

Dow and DuPont officials have been working hard for months to convince European regulators to approve their merger. Those efforts may have finally paid off.

You may not have noticed, but Gov. Rick Snyder is in China this week, on what his administration is calling his sixth “investment” mission to the world’s newest economic superpower.

This particular trip is designed, the governor’s office says, to help establish Michigan’s global leadership in “autonomous vehicle technology,” which is industry-speak for cars that will drive themselves, at least to some extent.


wikimedia user McZusatz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

All through the presidential campaign, the issue of free trade has been bubbling away on the national front burner.

Much of the focus and campaign rhetoric has been on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The proposed trade deal among the United States, Canada and ten nations in the Asia-Pacific region could cover 40% of America’s imports and exports.

We’re in the first year of a two-year ratification period.

Donald Trump has bashed the TPP at every turn. Hillary Clinton once praised the TPP as the “gold standard” of trade deals, but has backed off of that support, nudged that way by the staunch opposition of one-time opponent Bernie Sanders.

Economist Marina von Neumann Whitman joined us today to take a deeper look at the future of free trade policy in 2017.

Courtesy of Sue Nichols

 

Jack Liu of Michigan State University has spent some two decades studying pandas and people in a remote corner of China. His work has yielded powerful lessons in sustainability.

Liu is a human-environment scientist and a sustainability scholar at MSU, where he directs the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

He joined us today to talk about his panda research and what it means for people outside of the remote Wolong Nature Reserve.

Courtesy of Brian Connors

The Next Idea

China is Michigan’s third largest export market. A new nonprofit is up and running, planning to encourage more Chinese investment here.

Brian Connors is the executive director of the Michigan-China Innovation Center.

Connors sat down with us today to talk about how he plans to attract the attention of Chinese investors and why China is such a valuable business partner for Michigan.

Wikimedia user Brian Ammon / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

When looking at the modern world of innovation or business, you really can’t ignore China.

The country’s influence is huge, but interacting with Chinese companies, educators or officials can present a tough challenge for native English speakers: Mandarin Chinese is so fundamentally different from English, especially in tonal inflections.

Catherine Ryu is a Michigan State University researcher who is working with a team of students to develop a new game that could help English speakers learn Mandarin.

Jindong Zhang, Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

There's just something about the panda that captures our imagination.

The recent birth of panda twins at the National Zoo caused much excitement, although that was tempered somewhat when the smallest cub died last month.

And pandas have captured the interest of a research team from Michigan State University, which has discovered that pandas truly "march to the beat of their own drum."

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