China Comes to Iowa
Iowa seems to be taking on a distinctly Oriental flavor.
It seems that Chinese manufacturers are beginning to set up facilities in the state. This to both shorten their supply chains and take advantage of skilled U.S. workers who are now looking far more affordable as their competitors, the burgeoning Chinese middle class, enjoys rising wages. This same middle class is increasingly demanding products like farm equipment, soybeans and pork that Iowa is supplying to China.
An opinion piece in the Mason City Globe Gazette by guest Bill Shickel, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, reports that in the last decade Iowa had a net loss of 29,200 manufacturing jobs to China. Some of those lost jobs may be returning, Shickel says.
Another article in the Times Republican, a newspaper covering central Iowa, states that Iowa’s largest universities are seeing an enrollment surge of Chinese students. The story comments, “The cross-cultural pollination of young people streaming in and out of China and Iowa is occurring on college campuses across the state — at the strong encouragement of both business and education leaders, who hope to see the trend grow stronger in coming years.”
But perhaps the strongest indication of all came from a visit to Muscatine, Iowa by Vice President Xi Jinping of China on Feb. 15. According to a story in the NY Times, Mr. Xi is the "heir apparent to the leadership of a rapidly rising world power." The piece went on to say, "The tightly choreographed moment was intended to show audiences in the United States and in China the deep connection that the presumed future Chinese president, now 58, feels with the people of the American heartland. It was also likely meant to highlight China’s growing dependency on food imported from the United States. Iowa, the country’s leading soybean producer, is a big supplier to China. On Wednesday, Chinese trade representatives signed agreements with American grain companies to increase soybean imports."
It’s a small world after all.