Deadline Now: China Invests in Toledo
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Deadline Now: China Invests in Toledo

Friday, July 1 at 8:30 p.m.

With the Chinese firm Dashing Pacific's purchase of 69 acres of Toledo's east-side Marina District, Deadline Now explores what foreign investments mean for our region.

This week's guests are Scott Prephan, CEO of Prephan Enterprises in Perrysburg, Toledo City Councilman Tom Waniewski (R-Fifth District) and education and business consultant Tom Watkins.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:

For someone my age -- 59 -- the fact that the People’s Republic of China has become a world economic superpower is still somewhere between amazing, astonishing and hard to believe.

When I was in my twenties, China was a land of subsistence agriculture and fanatic radical communism. Hordes of “Red Guards” humiliated and tortured intellectuals, murdering some and sending doctors and professors to work spreading manure.
The United States had no diplomatic relations with China, and officially even denied its right to exist.

That started to change within one or two years after Chairman Mao died in 1976. Today, China has the second largest and the fastest growing major economy in the world.

When I was growing up, we worried about the possibility of Communist China starting a nuclear war. Nobody ever dreamed of a scenario in which our government ended up borrowing more than a trillion dollars from China in order to sustain our lifestyle.

Nobody ever saw a day when General Motors would sell more Buicks in China than in the United States.

But those things in fact happened. Nobody in Toledo ever imagined Chinese firms buying land and investing in our city. But that too is happening, and the mayor and many others are working hard to attract even more Chinese business and investment.

Yet there is cause for some uneasiness. China may look and behave like a modern capitalist country. But the government is still officially Communist, and in reality, a dictatorship.
Political opposition is not tolerated, and human rights are fundamentally non-existent. Things haven’t appeared to change since the Chinese military slaughtered thousands of pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square 22 years ago.

The world today really is a global village, and turning our back on the world’s fastest-growing economy is no longer possible, or desirable. But Toledoans might be well advised to approach any business dealings with China with eyes wide open. We perhaps should also remember what Ronald Reagan said was his guide to dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforming Soviet Union back in the 1980s:  Trust, but verify.