(CBS Detroit) – Local expert on China Tom Watkins joins a prestigious event Thursday that includes former President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Ambassador David Shinn to discuss the growing role of China and its impact on Michigan and the USA.
It will be held at Wayne State University’s Oakland Center in Farmington Hills and is open to the public.
China’s rapid development and Sino-American relations have a direct impact on the lives of just about everyone in Michigan. China remains the most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion people and a huge growing middle class.
The China Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections, is geared to providing people an opportunity to hear more about important issues with leading experts.
The National Committee Committee on China Relations — the oldest Chinese focused organization in America– is partnering with The Chinese Association of Greater Detroit, Wayne State University, and The World Affairs Council of Detroit in staging the Thursday night event.
It will feature a live webcast with Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States, as well as presentations from Watkins and Ambassador Shinn who will take to the WSU stage.
Watkins, the former state school superintendent, who is president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, will answer questions during the forum.
“It is important for more citizens to realize how the world is changing and the role China will play going forward,” said Watkins. “With knowledge, leadership and a desire to build two way bridges China’s rise can be mutually beneficial. Our fates are more intertwined than most realize.”
Watkins also is an advisor to the University of Michigan Confucius Institute, the Detroit Chinese Business Association and the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit.
Lisa Gray, honorary chairwoman of the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit, said, “There is no more important bilateral relationship in the world today than between the US and China. We’re pleased to have Tom Watkins as our featured speaker.”
Watkins has written many articles on building bridges between the two lands at chinausfocus.com.
Gov. Rick Snyder tapped Watkins to serve on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation ( MEDC) International Advisory Board to advise the state on dealings with the Asian nation.
China’s is Michigan’s third-largest export market, after Canada and Mexico.
Michigan exported over $4.1 billion of goods and services to the Asian nation in 2013.
For more on the WSU China event (248) 982-8628.