Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D., hosted a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Sept. 25. The conversation largely focused on his return from a Congressional Delegation to China. He has been part of two other international delegations, one to Cuba and one to Israel, both with a focus on opening additional trade agreements for U.S. exports. This trip, sponsored by the nonprofit National Committee on United States - China Relations, focused largely on trade and national security.
The delegation spent a week in China, and Marshall saw firsthand the rapid pace of growth throughout the country.
“With 1.5 million people moving from the rural areas into the cities each month, I’ve never seen so much construction and growth,” he said. That growth translates to opportunity for the U.S. Ag industry, he said. Especially for the cattle industry. At no time while he was there did he see a herd of cattle any larger than three or four head. He noted that China loves working with the U.S., and opening the country to U.S. beef will directly impact Kansans.
However, how quickly the market opens up will depend on how well beef is marketed to the Chinese consumer.
“They haven’t really had the opportunity to taste beef,” he said, noting that during his trip, the opportunities to enjoy beef had been limited. “I think once people have a chance to taste it, well, they seem to love all things American, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t like it.”
Direct marketing is encouraged to help the Chinese become familiar with the product.
Marshall also had positive comments about opportunities developing for Kansas manufacturers involved in the aerospace industry. China is now the largest growing purchaser of large aircraft in the world, he said. That’s good for manufacturers like Spirit Aerosystems of Wichita, who manufacture fuselages for large aircraft like Boeing’s 737. Opportunities also abound for small aircraft manufacturers, he added.
“We have a strong partner in China,” he said.
One of the big concerns Marshall had with China is the amount of pollution the nation is contributing to the world, he said. As he began the conference call, he apologized for his voice, noting that the pollution he experienced during his trip had affected his voice box.
“They certainly are aware of the problem, and one of their top goals over the next five years is to decrease the pollution,” he said. The delegation visited an independent air quality monitoring organization, which claimed the air quality had improved 20 percent over the past five years. “We were very fortunate the weather cooperated during our visit, and we didn’t have to wear masks while we were there. A lot of times, they still do.”
They are aware of the problems they are creating, and they understand if they want to improve their long-term survival, they will need to improve their environment as well, he added.
The Trump effect
Overall, China is concerned about the rhetoric from President Trump, Marshall said, both in relation to trade, and to national security. From his vantage point, Trump’s comments are making everyone more malleable.
China prefers peace. From a trade standpoint, he believes China understands Trump is going to enforce trade agreements, and while they are pushing back, they want to figure out how to do business with America.
On national security and North Korea, they would like to see Trump tone it down a little bit.
“China has already paid a lot for the peace it currently has with North Korea, and doesn’t want any more Chinese blood spilled there, but ultimately, they will stand beside the U.S. in peace efforts,” he said. In order to avoid bloodshed, they are increasing U.N. sanctions against North Korea.
“North Korea believes Trump will literally annihilate them if they do anything, and because of that, I don’t see North Korea doing anything offensively at this point,” he sad. “Everything I saw there indicates Trump’s policy in North Korea is spot on.”
He summed up, stating Trump’s advisors have a good feel for what is happening there as well, and while it causes them great concern, his policy seems to be working.