GE’s communist lobbying strategy (seriously) 

If you pick up a copy of the Washington Examiner today, be sure to turn to the K Street page, and take in my column/review of Casino Jack, the new Jack Abramoff documentary, as well as this interesting wire story further down the page:

Communists in Crotonville Help GE Lobby China in Different Way

Every summer since 2000, General Electric Co. has worked with the world’s largest communist party to pick about 25 Chinese executives for the company’s leadership program in Crotonville on New York’s Hudson River.

I’ve pasted other highlights below, but I want to put this Bloomberg story in some context. First, I’m reminded of GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s talk at the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference in which he declared “Germany is the model” for state-corporate cooperation and gushed about China’s “an incredible unanimity of purpose from top to bottom.”

Also, recall last year, when Immelt wrote this to shareholders:

The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.

It’s clear GE has an affinity for the robust corporatism of Asia and Europe. Ira Stoll at The Future of Capitalism blog also noticed the GE-commie-lobbying story, too, and dug up more Immelt quotes fawning over government, but also this gem, lauding Ronald Reagan and Communist China in the same breath:

“There is no ‘one style of leadership’ that you should emulate. But great leaders always match vision with execution. And leadership in general must welcome both purpose and process. Let me give you studies in contrast. One of my heroes was President Reagan. President Reagan was very charismatic. He could give speeches all day long and you would never be bored. At the same time, he was responsible for an aggressive reform agenda that forever changed our country. On the other side is the Chinese government. Talk about boring! But they are executing their eleventh ‘five year plan.’ They do exactly what they say they will do. They will likely be the biggest economy in the world someday. Man, these guys are good! “

Now, for some more highlights from the Bloomberg piece:

The training creates potential Chinese allies for GE to help ensure its continued expansion in the world’s fastest- growing major economy, company officials say. It is part of an emphasis on government relations that has paid off with contracts to supply jet engines and build wind turbines.

Lobbying China is becoming a growth industry as the country promotes state-owned businesses and limits market-opening moves that followed its 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization. Programs like GE’s, along with efforts from firms headed by Washington veterans such as former U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, help companies convince officials that what’s good for business is good for China.

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Timothy P. Carney

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