Despite internal ills, booming China called good for U.S. business (September 12, 2013)

By Emily Nohr
Omaha World-Herald
Published on September 12, 2013

China's population growth is generally a positive development for nations across the globe, a panel at Creighton University said Wednesday, but the expansion to nearly 1.4 billion people also presents challenges.

As Omaha businesses increase their work globally, “their headquarters are adding jobs,” said Marisa Ring, manager of international business development for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, who noted that Omaha companies Gallup and Valmont have benefited from work in China.

But Yu Rui, a visiting scholar from the Nanjing University of the Arts in China, said Chinese crises like lack of real estate and soaring prices could trickle over to the U.S. In China, the average prices for apartments about tripled between 2001 and when he recently went to purchase a home for his family.

“This is a real serious problem,” he said.

Ring and Rui were two speakers in the round-table discussion that drew about 85 people. It was one of several events this week for Creighton's ninth annual Asian Culture Week.

Moderated by Maorong Jiang, director of Creighton's Asian World Center, the panel also included Birud Sindhav, associate professor of marketing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; Jennifer Zhang, president of Omaha trade firm JZW International; John Wingender, chairman of the department of economics and finance at Creighton; and Davis Florick, an analyst at U.S. Strategic Command.

Wingender is optimistic about the real estate market and more concerned about the problems China faces with infrastructure, including water and sanitation, as its population numbers balloon. A visiting teacher in China for the past 11 years, Wingender said he's heard each time he's traveled there that a Chinese real estate collapse is coming.

“We're still waiting for it,” he said.

Sindhav said one misunderstanding about relations with China is that the nation's role in the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs is an entirely negative one. While U.S. jobs are lost, he said, “Prices for us are lower because (the Chinese) can make (products) cheaper.”

Zhang, a native of China who moved to Nebraska and opened her business selling Chinese­made roofing nails and consulting services, said the public should be pleased with trade possibilities between China and Nebraska and excited about Chinese delegations that visit Nebraska. The delegations spend money in the state, often buying expensive gifts for loved ones and dining at American restaurants.

“We enjoy that,” she said.