If there's one takeaway from Gov. Jerry Brown's April trade mission to China, it's probably this: boosting the already robust economic relationship will take a long-term commitment and patience.
And patience is a rare thing in the world of politics.
"China plus California is bigger than the both separately," Brown told an audience in Beijing on April 10.
Granted, there's a dose of California braggadocio in that, given the size of China and its economic output compared to a single state - even one as large and diverse as California.
But the governor's outreach to his Pacific neighbors was as much about planting seeds as it was reaping an immediate harvest of cash and activity. In our News10 special, 'Courting China,' we take a look at some of the short and long term goals of California's new focus on the Asian nation - from a formal trade and investment office that is tasked with actually sealing business deals, to new agreements for collaboration on the global challenges of climate change.
We also check in with entrepreneurs both big and small who are finding fertile ground in China: a Sacramento multi-million dollar corporation, a Davis energy startup, and Napa Valley wineries that see new opportunities in China's rapidly growing middle class.
As the trade mission showed, there could be other partnerships between California and China not yet even realized. Chinese investors could be wooed on two of Gov. Brown's big infrastructure projects, high speed rail and a Delta water plan that includes large underground tunnels. Neither of those ideas was more than just briefly mentioned on the April trade mission, but both are projects in need of billions of dollars to become a reality.
The real question, it seems, is how success will be measured on California's new quest to expand its ties with China. Individual deals? Total jobs produced? Long-term economic development? Chinese culture values lasting relationships, the kind of long-term thinking the governor also talks a lot about. That's a rare thing in the current world where instant results are expected, even demanded. This new Pacific courtship will have to find a balance between the two if the governor and business leaders expect Californians to label their efforts a success.