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When Jerry Went to China

We talk to Dean Fealk, a member of the Governor's recent China delegation, about the high speed rail, enviornmental policy, and—oh yeah—Yao Ming wine.

 Jerry Brown just came back from China—so what really happened over there?

 Dean Fealk.

Dean Fealk heads the Global Equity practice at DLA Piper, and recently joined Governor Jerry Brown as part of the state's delegation to China—where the Governor opened a trade office in Shanghai, the first to be opened since the closure of the trade offices ten years ago. Fealk, still a little jet-lagged, talked to us about the trip. The following is an edited version of his conversation with Scott Lucas.

 

Why a trade office there now?
California has not had an overseas trade office in quite some time. A confluence of events last year or so changed that. For one, there was the President Obama’s pivot to Asia. For another, the Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited California. So I think that Governor Brown thought we should have an office and make an overseas trip to return the courtesy. That’s what kicked it all off.

Where’d you go?
We did a three city tour—Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. We took the high speed rail we took from Beijing to Shanghai. It was amazing. So smooth. It hits more than 200 mph. Just an incredible piece of infrastructure. Part of the message of the delegation took away is that we have to invest in our infrastructure here. Why shouldn’t we have something similar from SF to LA?

How do you think the Governor did?
His optimism impressed a lot of people. Fundamentally he said that this trip was about collaborating on issues of common concern, common humanity. Given the global economy, it's not a zero sum game. We are headed towards an Asian century, in terms of global economy. California is well positioned to take part in that. In the past decade, China has something like $1.3 billion in direct investment in the state. In the next 10 years it’s forecasted to be $50 or 60 billion.

Did you get into any kind of national security conversations?
No. We were there to talk commerce, education, and the environment. We did not talk about national security. There are aspects of the relationship better left to the federal government, which actually gives us as a state the ability to do things on a diplomatic level that the national government can’t do alone. There’s a division of labor in diplomacy. 

How was the food?
Peking duck to die for, to absolutely die for. It was just so tender. I though that San Francisco had the best dim sum, but Shanghai has dumplings that get pretty darn close.

And the drinks?
I’ll tell you what. The most famous man in the whole country is Yao Ming. He hosted us on a dinner cruise on a river. He served us Yao Ming wine. He has his own wine. I’m not an expert on it, but the wine market there is just emerging. They grow some modest local stuff, and there are some imports with heavy tariffs. A $75 dollar bottle here is $200 there. So, the Yao Ming wine was solid. It was actually pretty good.

 

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