On a map of the Caribbean and Central America, 47-year-old Zhang Qing draws an oval. The starting point of this oval is his current location of Trinidad and Tobago. The right arc of that oval connects several Caribbean islands together, extending up to Miami in the U.S., extending from there to the left, passing through Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia, before returning to Trinidad and Tobago.
Zhang, chairman of a Chinese company in the Caribbean, has spent the last 20 years working in Trinidad and Tobago, located approximately 20,000 kilometers (approximately 12,427 miles) from China. He hopes, through some of his company’s past and future projects, to develop a cooperative platform for Chinese enterprises and banks in this region, and intends to choose Miami as the location to build a logistics center.
Zhang’s vision is neither out of reach nor is it unrealistic. That is because he knows that China’s development linking up with the development of the Caribbean and the Central American region is possible. And this type of connection will provide the U.S. with unprecedented opportunities.
The children’s hospital in Trinidad and Tobago constructed by Zhang’s company serves as the most convincing example. Walking into this world-class hospital, we see many American brands. There are beds produced in the U.S., Chinese-manufactured anesthesia and EKG machines with American labels, along with already installed hospital equipment made by U.S. companies.
Moreover, although the hospital’s construction was contracted to a Chinese company with loans from the Chinese government, the design of the hospital was completed by an American company, with all the equipment procured in accordance with the requirements from the Trinidad and Tobago government. In particular, some of the key equipment used was “made in the USA.”
Seeing all this, I always think about U.S.-China cooperation in Asia. Not long ago, American activities in the South China Sea were regarded as a strategic move as part of the “Asia-Pacific rebalance” by the United States. Besides causing more panic for the people in that region, will this move engender any kind of effect on development? I hope that American leaders can take some time to focus on issues such as the children’s hospital in Trinidad and Tobago, and see how China is creating development opportunities for Americans in America’s backyard.
Through the continual expansion of globalization, common development has become mainstream. If you can provide others with development opportunities, you may consequently obtain even more opportunities for yourself, and perhaps even provide these development opportunities to other countries. Although Chinese entrepreneurs do not quite comprehend the U.S. global strategy, they do know this simplest truth.
If the Obama administration is willing to promote the same type of push for and participation in the development by American enterprises in Asia, this will certainly produce the unexpected result of common development with Asia. The current factors that hinder Washington in taking this step are not economic but rather political.
Asia needs the U.S., just like the children’s hospital in Trinidad and Tobago needs the high quality American-made hospital beds. However, these types of needs cannot be met by simply relying on deploying more naval fighters or selling several more warships.