China: Its future is our future

Washington plants roots as China's economy blossoms

September 18, 2005 

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen sees opportunity in Shanghai's futuristic towers. He thinks Washington should do more to take advantage of China's booming economy.


Christine Gregoire is not the first Washington governor to visit China. But when she and her 55-person trade delegation arrive there Thursday, they will carry with them a sense of urgency not borne by previous administrations.

China’s economy is growing at an astonishing rate and is expected to overtake the U.S. economy within a generation.

Perhaps more than any other state, Washington’s economic future is tied to China’s. Trade between the two topped $20 billion last year. Thanks primarily to Boeing, Microsoft, and its ports, Washington is well positioned to continue to gain from China’s good fortune.

But much of the world is clambering to climb on board the China Express, and the competition is fierce.

For Washington business, the market possibilities presented by 1.3 billion consumers are balanced by what Ross Perot called the “giant sucking sound” of manufacturing jobs moving west across the Pacific. Economists say China trade cost Washington about 1,000 jobs a year through the 1990s.

Washington needs to be smart to survive China’s ascendancy. But how do we do it?

Staff writer Rob Carson and photographer Dean Koepfler visited China this summer to assess the economic situation. Their report starts today.

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