If there’s a path through trade tensions between the United States and China, maybe a manufacturer in Moraine shows the way.
That was one hope expressed when Fuyao Glass America welcomed Ambassador Zhang Qiyue, Chinese consul general in New York, to its Moraine plant Thursday.
There, she met with more than a dozen Dayton-area business and political leaders. Together, they discussed simmering trade tensions between the nations — and the way that Fuyao’s presence in Moraine can perhaps point a way through and beyond those tensions.
Fuyao employs about 2,000 people in what was just a few years ago an empty auto assembly plant.
Though Fuyao is owned by a Chinese-based global auto glass manufacturer, as Jeff Liu, Fuyao Glass America president, put it: “Fuyao Glass America is not a Chinese company. It is an American company.”
“I can tell you very frankly that we are very worried today,” Qiyue told the local group of leaders, referring to at-times escalating political rhetoric indicating a possible trade war between the United States and China.
President Donald Trump has directed his administration in recent weeks to explore how to impose new tariffs on about $150 billion of Chinese goods.
“If the U.S. continues to act recklessly … we stand ready to show our sword, and fight to win this battle to defend multilateralism and free trade,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was quoted this week in media reports as saying in response to a U.S. action against a Chinese smartphone producer.
The ambassador visiting Fuyao, however, said the local company provides a “case study” of how trade and cooperation between the countries can be mutually beneficial.
“Within a short period of time, they have created a miracle,” Qiyue said. “They have created so many jobs in Dayton, Ohio.”
A consul general oversees a nation’s consular district, offering Chinese nationals consular services and protection. Qiyue oversees a New York City office that represents the People’s Republic of China, offers visa and passport services and manages cultural and economic affairs in 10 mostly northeastern states, including Ohio.
She has served as Chinese ambassador to Belgium and Indonesia and has worked at the United Nations headquarters in New York and Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
Fuyao Glass Industry Group acquired a former General Motors assembly plant in Moraine in 2014, transforming it into what the company says is the world’s largest factory producing original equipment and aftermarket automotive safety glass.
More than once, participants in Thursday’s meeting cited Fuyao as an example of how cooperation between China and America can be mutually beneficial.
“I must say, this (Fuyao) is a really good example of partnership,” the ambassador said.
Local leaders told the ambassador they hope Fuyao’s experience in the area will lead to more investment. Coalition members recently visited Fuyao’s home city in China to explore that possibility.
“Attracting more of the Fuyao supply chain is critical,” said Julie Sullivan, executive vice president of regional development for the Dayton Development Coalition.
“I think there are a lot more opportunities in this region,” said Jeff Hoagland, the coalition’s chief executive and president.
The ambassador said it’s China’s goal to eliminate “extreme poverty” in the nation by the year 2020 and to reach other development milestones by 2049. But she also said that Chinese leaders understand that trade has to benefit both sides.
“We attach great importance to the partnership” between the U.S. and China, she said.
After the meeting, participants dined as Fuyao’s restaurant next to the plant off Encrete Lane, Taste of the World.