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Commentaries by Tom Watkins

Tom Watkins

Advisor, Michigan-China Innovation Center

Tom Watkins has had a lifelong interest in China sparked by a great fourth grade teacher. He has worked for nearly four decades to build economic, educational and cultural ties between the US and China. He serves on the Michigan-China Innovation Center Advisory Board and is an adviser to the Detroit Chinese Business Association. Follow him on twitter@tdwatkins88. Email
  • Jun 07 , 2017

    China has pledged to connect Central Asia with Southeast Asia – reminiscent of the Silk Road – also connecting the Middle East and Africa with a massive infrastructure project set to surpass America’s Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War ll. Our leaders at the national, state and local level need to find ways to assure China's continued rise does not come at our demise.

  • May 29 , 2017

    Governments at the national, state, and local levels have an important role to play in building economic bridges with China. In an era where the Chinese continue to seek places throughout the world to invest their new wealth, Michigan should be attempting to make America an economic magnet for such investment and job growth for the American worker.

  • Oct 05 , 2016

    While Chinese challenges abound, no one should denigrate the remarkable progress the country has made in recent history. Failure will not be an option for China. The world needs China’s leaders to work at rebalancing their own economy. This will require building better social safety nets and managing the Chinese people’s expectations, hopes and “Chinese Dreams.”

  • Sep 08 , 2016

    In 15 years China will have the world’s largest elderly population. By 2050, its working-age population will have declined by 200+ million people. China’s rapidly aging population will have a significant impact on all aspects of China, and constructing a social safety net to meet its needs will be both expensive and complicated.

  • Aug 17 , 2016

    As the need and demand for quality mental health becomes apparent throughout China, a major concern is the scant professional resources currently available. Opportunity exists for collaboration around research, training and program development. China can learn and benefit from the U.S.’ mistakes and successes in developing a successful community engagement approach.

  • Jun 15 , 2016

    Rather than doubting the sincerity of corporate executives who create new technologies that propel the China-U.S. relationship forward, Carson Tavenner and Tom Watkins propose listening to non-profit leaders, educators, and other China-America bridge-builders who search for cooperative solutions while building trust and honesty between people.

  • May 17 , 2016

    Tom Watkins reviews the still contested—but often un-discussed—narratives surrounding the causes and reasons for the Cultural Revolution, which began fifty years ago. He mostly disagrees with the assertion that the current regime of Xi Jinping is similar to the conditions that brought about the fervor of revolution not seen since the time of Chairman Mao.

  • Apr 01 , 2016

    The unspoken trade-off between the Chinese rulers and the ruled seems to be: If our lives improve, then you can remain in power. So far, the Chinese Communist Party has been adept at reading the tealeaves and adapting to the times, and will need to gradually change further as the economy slows down.

  • Feb 04 , 2016

    Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, 59, Taiwan's first female, newly-elected president, leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which has traditionally advocated for a strong Taiwanese identity Her strength moving forward will be contingent on the economy improving, which ironically, may depend on her relationship and guanxi with Mainland China.

  • Jan 04 , 2016

    Chinese students face a sizable struggle adapting to the American learning environment and culture. As a way to attack these tough issues, Michigan State University's leadership has stepped up, seeking ways to build bridges that help connect its students and state with the broad world beyond its borders.

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