My first passport in the early 70s explicitly banned travel to and acceptance for passage in China (as well as North Korea, North Vietnam, and Cuba). But with Nixon’s surprise visit in 1972 orchestrated by Henry Kissinger, relations gradually improved (sometimes referred to as the period of “ping pong diplomacy”, reflecting an early exchange of visits) and the door crept open. Coincidentally, I was in Hong Kong just months after this historic event, and any worries about using my U.S. passport for entry into Canton (now Guangzhou) were dispelled by a U.S. consular official who simply used a magic marker to cross out China from the list of banned countries. In the years since I have made four visits into China and twice as many into Hong Kong, a one-time British colony until July 1997 and a logistical gateway with its modern infrastructure into all of Southeast Asia.
I was by no means an “early mover” into China. Going back in history nearly 10,000 years China was the largest and most advanced civilization on earth. As recently as the 1270s, Marco Polo was “astonished at the wealth of China”. The Japanese invasions in the 1900s set back this progress, which was worsened further by Mao’s destructive decade of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s that further impoverished the population. The past forty plus years have witnessed an unprecedented pace of development. Today, China is the world’s most populous country and the largest participant in global trade, with 2015 imports + exports of nearly 4 trillion USD. (The comparable total for the U.S. in second position is 3.8 trillion).
Our trip provides an opportunity to experience firsthand some of the world’s most advanced infrastructure (airports, high speed rail) and oldest culture. I am very excited to share with OSU students such exciting destinations that resonate in my personal life and business career and, hopefully, will prove an equally memorable event in yours. While my longevity does not quite reach back to the era of Marco Polo, I continue to view the country with a similar sense of wonder.
If you are interested in international business, cultural uniqueness and an exploration of an emerging country that increasingly shapes the world’s political and economic landscape, please join us for Fisher’s first undergraduate program in China, a two week exposure to business, politics, culture and even a great deal of fun.