Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Utah Is More China Than You Know

No, this great salt lake is NOT in Utah

story and video by MICHAEL ORTON
©2011 ImageProviders – All Rights Reserved
This report originally appeared elsewhere

Richfield, Utah -

From the way they queued up with the garrison-style seating amidst the scenic rural locale (if not with the earnestly prepared, American-style menu) to the way they honored their leaders, the luncheon hosted by Zions Bank and organized by the Greater Richfield Chamber of Commerce could have easily been set in rural China. Joining them on Wednesday, August 24th, their provincial governor, Gary Herbert, addressed approximately 120 of his state's business people in a wide-ranging address with a question and answer session at Snow College's Richfield campus. As the seat of Sevier County government, Richfield has a population of 7200, and is located toward the western end of America's east-to-west Interstate 70 where it intercepts north-to-south Interstate-15. 

An ample amount of pride was on display not only in Governor Herbert's remarks, but with those from the local residents as well. Spencer Cox, an attorney and politician from the smaller town of Fairview in neighboring Sanpete County, elicited some agreeable laughter when he told Herbert that "One of the reasons why the quality of life in Salt Lake City is so great is that you can drive an hour and not be in Salt Lake City anymore." Interestingly, many Utahns might feel just as comfortable in the Qinghai provence of China, where an international bicycle race from the provincial seat of Xining offers the vistas and terrain en route to the saline Qinghai Lake much like the Tour of Utah race does each summer throughout Governor Herbert's state in America. The parallels between the Chinese province and the America's 45th state don't stop at the shores of two great salt lakes.

Early in May of this year, Herbert led a trade delegation to China comprised of two dozen business leaders. His recent remarks in Richfield included some personal observations on how the leaders of China have become so interested in the Beehive State, with its one-word state motto ("Industry"), a state that seems to reflect the work ethic and many of the interests of the Chinese people. Widely known as both a former missionary and a former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman most recently served as the U.S. Ambassador to China, so it is not surprising that the Chinese find Utah so fascinating. Or, that on the day of this writing, a plane full of young missionaries were en route from Utah to donate two years of their lives (and perhaps their subsequent professional careers) to increase and improve Sino-American relations. They will do that by living and working in the People's Republic, assigned by the mainstream LDS Church to promote humanitarian efforts, goodwill and understanding among the two regions and ultimately, the two nations. For many it will become a lifelong, and potentially lucrative, endeavor. After their full-time, voluntary missionary service, they may use their considerable experience to establish and promote commercial enterprise within a global economy.

Utah Governor GARY HERBERT on his May, 2011 trip to China
Video ©2011 by RUNNING TIME: 3:53

The Utah governor spoke of the Chinese and their intricate interest in America's National Basketball Association, (thank you, Yao Ming) in addition to observing that Utah's form of rigorous and disciplined capitalism intrigues them because of "how great [Utah's] quality of life is." "We want to be like Utah," said Herbert, quoting an unnamed, "high-ranking" Chinese party official. 

Concluding this portion of his Richfield remarks by observing that from his recent experience, Herbert views the Chinese people and leaders as exploring and learning about concepts of competition and free market economics. He acknowledged that China has some "social problems" (perhaps including environmental pollution and socio-political dissent, which some would cite as additional similarities to Utah). The Chinese learning curve might also include some obstacles involved with the nation's deep roots in communist ideology, which could be said to parallel (Utah's first governor) Brigham Young's collectivist social concept called "the United Order of Enoch." Like polygamy, this form of "Christian Communism" was formally abandoned and is not practiced in the mainstream, worldwide LDS Church today. 

Because of China's interest in how Utah leads many national economic indicators and is growing at the expense of states like California and others in America which, unlike Utah, are facing economic hardship, Utah's current and 17th governor observed that the Chinese "...are starting to have an awakening." 

And like Herbert, many in the West would like to pull back the curtains on that new day.

Next: Utah, the Sino Sister State

1 comment:

  1. Prior to beginning lunch, the leadership of Zions Bank introduced several of their geographically-organized, economic leadership team. These were central Utah business people and the bank's client-customers who were introduced by bank officials as "our eyes and ears in the communities we serve."

    Because 60% of Utah's population belongs to the Mormon church and because many are also patrons of Zions Bank, this introduction prompted some to observe that the relationship between the LDS Church-founded bank and successful Utah entrepreneurs reflected those successful business people in the People's Republic of China under the control of the governing party officials there.