By Carol Cain
CBS62 Senior Producer and Host “Michigan Matters”

In less than six months, Gov. Rick Snyder has flipped the state’s gameplan toward China which is gaining applause from C. Peter Theut, Robert Ficano and others. Snyder included China in his maiden trade mission to Asia last fall and also traveled to Iowa recently to meet China’s Vice President.

“Not having the state’s highest ranking elected official with you has been a major problem,” Theut said referring to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm who refused to visit the Asian country during her two terms in office. That caused problems for Theut and others trying to build two-way economic bridges. “I was with Gov. Snyder on his trip and saw the difference he made being there,” Theut said during taping of “Michigan Matters.” Watch on-demand video of the episode.

Ann Arbor-based China Bridge helps American companies seeking to establish or expand their presence in China and also assists Chinese companies seeking to invest or enter the U.S. market.

Theut also emphasized that Snyder’s recognition of the importance of China to Michigan’s economy was encouraging for those in the private sector who have been attempting to establish cultural and business connections. China Bridge is planing a two week visit this spring to six Chinese cities with investors interested in Michigan.

Ficano, a Democrat who has been on six trade missions to China, agreed the Republican governor is shaking things up. “It evens the playing field when other states like Ohio, California, Illinois have all been there with their governors at the same time we have not,” said Ficano. “China has one-fifth of the world’s population. They are simply too big to ignore,” Ficano said when asked what he says to critics about the communist country.

Doug Smith, senior vice president of Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC), the state’s economic arm, said Michigan has great opportunities through agriculture, autos and tourism. “With more direct flights from Detroit to Asia and technical centers the auto industry has here too means more opportunities for leisure travel as well,” he said. Which why the state’s award winning “Pure Michigan” campaign will include more aggressive efforts targeted to China, Asia and other places, Smith added.

Others appearing on the “Michigan Matters” China show: Denise Yee Grim, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce; Frank Lavin, CEO of Export Now; Lisa Gray, president of the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit; and Tom Watkins, CEO of TDW & Associates.

Watch “Michigan Matters” at its new time, 11:30 a.m. on CBS62!

Carol Cain is the Emmy winning senior producer and host of CBS62’s “Michigan Matters.” She writes about business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or

Comments (7)
  1. Lisa says:

    It is great that we are concentrating on opportunities for our future instead of blaming others for our issues. Thank you for putting a positive light on our China relations.

  2. Peter T. says:

    Positive to see that we are finally making some head way in developing solid business realtionships with China.

    This is yet another area that Granholm set this state back decades!

  3. Henry says:

    It’s great. China Bridge would be a real bridge.

  4. Darren says:

    Not for it at all. Keep local and nationwide jobs including manufacturing here. With many of our automotive workers still without jobs due to GM plants outside of the States doesn’t anyone understand you may have to pay a little more for products made here in the U.S. People complain all the time about the gas prices but still fill their tanks everyday. Some people still don’t understand how we import so many things from different countries but some of those countries restrict how much they will allow from the U.S. to be imported. I have no problem paying more for merchandise if I know I am supporting another American worker and their family.

    1. James says:

      Darren, the point of the episode and what these people are working for is to get Chinese companies to invest in Michigan and bring jobs here as well as get them to buy products from Michigan. Open your mind.

  5. wakingcapitalism says:

    It’s great to see the energy around Michigan and China business relationships. I attended last month’s annual gala event attended by Carol Cain and hosted by Lisa Gray and the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit. What struck me most is how unified the group was. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) gave a keynote, and Governor Snyder (R) received an award. Whether you’re a D or an R, or in Detroit or outside Detroit, we all have a stake in strengthening the region’s economic relationship with China. So it’s great to see these collaborative efforts gaining momentum. Thank you all for your continued efforts and work.

  6. James says:

    Its good to see the State opening its eyes to new opportunities. I hope it continues and this is the decade of Michigan’s rebirth. I just hope shows like this help stop the negative message most media gives to China relations. Thank you Carol for leading the way.