This month China surpassed Japan as the world’s secondlargest economy. And that’s just the tipping point as China transforms from a central command economy to a market-driven economy under Communist Party guidance.
China’s state council adopted policies that Hainan should be a developed international tourist island by 2015 and matured by 2020. Semitropical on the same latitude as Hawaii, Hainan was in the prior century called "Asia’s Hawaii."
The greatest need of Hainan today is qualified management and skilled personnel, Hainan’s Party Secretary Wei Liu Cheng reportedly said. Those resources — education, experience, practical training and the spirit of uniting in aloha — have matured over a century in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s great opportunity for riding China’s economic wave is to being a hub of education for China’s transformation to international standards. That can be done in multiple fields by going tandem, Hawaii with Hainan. We have similar priorities — tourism, tropical agriculture, marine resources, military and space funding, clean energy efforts and rail.
Our sister ties with Hainan go back more than 25 years, when I led the creation of the Oahu-Hainan Sister Island (1984), then Sister State (1992), then Sister Cities of Maui with Sanya and now Haikou with Honolulu (2010). The relationship, guanxi, of connected old friends with trust, has been established.
A recent success of this relationship has been Hainan’s capital city of Haikou hosting jointly a food safety and sanitation course in July with certifications recognized by the American National Restaurant Association. It was the first time this Serv Safe course has been given in China and the first course provided by Kapiolani Community College, or any University of Hawaii community college, even though numerous agreements have been signed with other regions of China.
KCC chef Henry Holthaus, of Olelo TV fame "Shiq Happens," said, "Training food handlers and food-service managers in China on American safety standards will make Western tourists a lot more secure about eating there. … I was welcomed with enthusiasm in Haikou. The friendly professional staff … took very good care of me."
With a 75 percent student/ chef pass rate of this American food safety examination, in the Chinese language, a repeat course is being planned for chefs to compete to get one of the next 35 certificates. Thus, Hawaii may collaborate with Hainan on building the concept of food safety and sanitation — and also the brand of Kapiolani Community College, which has been the top winner in the past two years of the American Culinary Federation National Competition, beating more than 400 student chefs in America.
For the next decade, Hainan in tandem with Hawaii in all fields is an ideal collaboration. An older sister with a great brand, network and skills matched with a rapidly maturing younger sister with beautiful natural attributes but awkward in social skills.
And to assist in the hurdles of communication and culture flexibility, a nonprofit organization, The Foundation for Islands of Harmony, has been registered in Hawaii for our long-term stable collaboration with Hainan.
Meanwhile, Hainan’s new Gov. Luo Baoning is in Hawaii to participate in this week’s Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit, as well as to nurture Hawaii’s collaboration with Hainan. His delegation includes Chen Feng, chairman of Hainan Airlines, the first and only airline to have both U.S. and Chinese approvals for direct flights between Honolulu and Beijing.
As new waves of Chinese tourists arrive in Hawaii, we have the great opportunity to ride in tandem with Hainan, a pioneer of international reform.