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Approximately 6-8 years past, I was a minor part of a private agricultural trade delegation to China. It was my second trip, but first relative to establishing business relationships, and, in a sense, my first to modern China (actual first was in the early ‘90s).

Many memories and impressions of my most recent trip have stayed with me including but not limited to: wealth disparity among the population (I have many examples of this), daily heavy smoking (indoors, not outdoors) and drinking, horrendous traffic jams, enclosed restaurant buffets the size of several football fields feeding thousands, air and water pollution, etc.

But two memories stand out. First, was the realization that any arrangement was in actuality a deal with the government. They do indeed have their hand in all things. If that hand is not well tended, nothing happens. Second, on questioning, our driver (yes we were provided a handler) who spoke broken but understandable English began to tell us about his life. He stated that he had just returned from a two year assignment working on the electrical grid in the Balkans. He had missed his family terribly and didn’t really enjoy the work as he was confined and had little interaction with anyone beyond who he worked with. He wasn’t sure where he would be assigned next but enjoyed driving foreigners around. It was a good job; got to be with his family every day.

China is proactive. They are engaged everywhere. They are patient and think long term. That is reality. I have serious doubts that most Americans even are aware or contemplate the implications, especially, (and with all due respect to Mr. Woods—I wish him a speedy recovery) when the ABC news network spends the first ten to twelve minutes of their Feb. 23 evening broadcast covering his motor vehicle accident. And we wonder what is happening in America.

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