Years of finding the common ground

Updated: 2014-06-13 11:22

By Deng Yu in Seattle (China Daily USA)

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Years of finding the common ground

"For a long time I have held firmly to the view that the relationship between the US and China is the most important in the world and will continue to be so for the indefinite future," said Joe Borich, a China hand who has served every US President from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton in various China-related capacities.

Borich just got back from a business mission to China where he visited eight cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in three weeks. Borich thought the trip was successful and plans to go back on another one mid-summer.

Such trips to China are normal and frequent for the 70-year-old veteran US consul general who feels himself strongly China-connected and actively involved in US-China communication in business, culture and politics.

He maintains a vast network of contacts with Chinese government officials and business leaders, as well as with US government agencies and American business organizations.

Borich has held numerous government positions at the US State Department, including US consul general to Shanghai from 1994 to 1997, where he directed program development with an emphasis on promotion of US exports and investment.

He helped open the consulate general in Shanghai in 1980 and was a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy, among other trade organizations.

Starting in 1997, Borich was president of the Washington State China Relations Council, the nation's oldest non-governmental statewide trade association dedicated to promoting relations with China.

In this capacity, Joe represented trade policy interests of more than 100 corporations, including Boeing, Microsoft, Costco and Expeditors International.

"The job of the council was providing value to its membership while helping develop commercial, educational and cultural ties between our state and China," he said.

Years of finding the common ground

"This is what we have always done and it must continue to be job one going forward. One way we can provide value is to alert our membership to - and help combat - ill-considered legislation and other government actions that could threaten our trade relationship with China, a relationship that in its present form undergirds most of our state's economy in one form or another."

Through a distinguished career spanning government, non-profit, business and the military, Joe Borich has been a respected analyst and official operating at the forefront of the US-China relationship.

Last year, after serving on the council for 16 years, Borich decided to step down to accept a new challenge - senior advisor to Nyhus Communications, a Seattle-based global communications, public relations, public affairs and executive communications firm.

At the annual banquet of the Washington State China Relations Council on Oct 1, 2013, VIPs including then US ambassador to China Gary Locke, Gov Jay Inslee and Wang Shi, chairman of Vanke, China's largest real estate development firm, showed up to say goodbye to Borich, who has served as head of the organization for more than half of its life.

"I have always enjoyed my association with China," he said. "After I retired from the foreign service, the work at the US-China Relations Council enabled me to make use of my skills, experience and contacts acquired over years in the foreign service and take them to the private sector.

"Now my present consulting work is another extension of my 40-year China-focused career, which I will never consider changing," Borich said.

The Boao Forum for Asia 2014 conference will be held in Dubai and Seattle in September. The meeting in Seattle will focus on energy resources and sustainable development co-sponsored by the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, the Washington State China Relations Council and the US-China Clean Energy Forum.

For the first time the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) - Asia's premier economic forum - will be held in North America. Borich said Seattle was honored to host the conference and he hoped to get Nyhus Communications more involved in it.

Borich recently founded a one-man company - Borich Consulting. With his level of experience and expertise with China, he helps American companies interested in engaging with China more deeply and Chinese companies interested in establishing a presence in the US.

"I've always seen my role, even during my foreign service years, as trying to help both sides find a common ground, whether in business, culture or politics," Borich said.

One of his consultancy clients is the Seattle Family Regional Center, an EB-5 project led by Seco Development trying to bring immigrant investors together with quality development projects to enrich the Seattle community.

When a Chinese delegation of more than 30 investors visited the center in early May, Borich demonstrated his knowledge of the investment environment for US-China business by answering questions from the delegation.

"I see this project as a good one since it has been solidly financed. It helps the investor realize their immigration and investment purpose, and at the same time serves the business and economic interests of cities like Seattle," Borich said.

Borich was born in Minnesota, received a bachelor's degree from South Dakota State University, and a master's degree from the University of South Dakota.

He lives with his wife Ting Hsiao-hui and their daughter Grace in the Seattle area.

 Years of finding the common ground

Joe Borich has served every US president from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton in various China-related capacities. Deng Yu / China Daily

(China Daily USA 06/13/2014 page10)