Wheat Sees Rapid Growth in China Joint Ventures / Ocu Program in Tianjin Connects Oklahoma to Budding Business Giant

By Nichols, Max | THE JOURNAL RECORD, September 19, 1987 | Go to article overview

Wheat Sees Rapid Growth in China Joint Ventures / Ocu Program in Tianjin Connects Oklahoma to Budding Business Giant


Nichols, Max, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Back in February 1985, when Willis J. Wheat first visited China as a banker and trustee for Oklahoma City University, he was impressed with China's plans for business development.

After returning last week from a trip to Tianjin as a faculty member in OCU's business administration masters program there, he was struck with how fast the plans of the People's Republic of China had been turned into reality.

"In 1985, they were just planning an enterprize zone about 30 miles south of Tianjin," said Wheat. "Already, it's a full blown operation with 177 joint ventures under way between the city of Tianjin and foreign private companies.

"They were operating in more than 50 outstanding new buildings, which had been constructed along with a high rise condominium complex for foreign employees on about 1,000 acres. The joint ventures include companies from France, West Germany and Great Britain as well as America in one of seven enterprise zones in China."

All this, of course, makes OCU's pioneering business education efforts in China look better than ever. Under the leadership of Dr. Jerald C. Walker, OCU started three of the first four MBA programs in China by American universities.

As the joint venture efforts of China grow, so will the need for OCU programs. China is just learning the fundamentals of free enterprise after years of all business being dominated by a Communist government.

OCU is on the ground floor of a budding giant in world business. As a result, OCU's program provides a "China connection" for Oklahoma business in the future.

The OCU program is operated in the Tianjin University of Economics and Finance. Tianjin, a city of about 10 million, is the third largest in China behind Shanghai and Beijing and is on the coast, about 120 miles from Beijing.

"The Chinese leaders are much more comfortable with us now," said Wheat. "At first, they were quite suspicious. Even when I arrived there in July, it was clear during a meeting I had with the Communist Party leader of that area that my first four lectures had been taped.

"I think we have shown that we are not going over there to try and change their philosophy. We are just teaching what they need to know to compete in business. They are much more open now, in being critical of their shortcomings and problems, than they were in 1985."

Primarily, the joint venture programs are with foreign companies which produce products which can be exported as well as sold in China, he said. It appears that China wants about half the products to be exported.

"They are very careful about their balance of payments," Wheat said. "When it appears the imports are growing too fast, they slow things down until the exports can catch up."

He pointed to the Wella Corp. of Berlin as a major example. This German firm produces cosmetics and soaps for the Japanese hotels as well as for China. There is a "great emphasis," he said, in producing these products for Japan.

Also, a man from Detroit, who had been a biochemist for Parke Davis, saw the need for research for a serum to diagnose blood diseases. It includes blood from a certain Australian rabbit, which has some characteristics of a kangaroo, and blood from a Chinese rat.

"The demand for this serum has been tremendous," said Wheat.

One basic Chinese problem already has turned out to be an opportunity for the OCU program.

"The Chinese don't have much experience in marketing," he said, "so they have had some difficulties in finding foreign markets for their products. We are teaching marketing skills as part of our MBA program, which now includes professors from other colleges in China. …

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