(Ann Arbor) – A Chinese backed company, Sino-Michigan Properties LLC, recently purchased 200 acres of land outside of Ann Arbor. Their intention seems to be to build a self-sufficient Chinese city, right here in Michigan. This would include residential housing units, commercial units, and manufacturing all contained in what they hope to be a special economic zone, a model that the Chinese government has used to great effect on mainland China. now it appears they want to spread that model around the world.
The company paid just under $2 million dollars for 200 acres in Milan last year. The 415 unit housing complex they are building will not be marketed to the public, but rather to Chinese citizens. They also have plans for a Chinese cultural center to be built in what some people are referring to “China City”.
Since the owners of Sino-Michigan Properties LLC are not residents of Michigan they are required to have a registered agent located in the state. Their registered agent is Arthur Dudley II, of the Detroit based legal firm Butzel Long. He has declined to comment on the development plans.
Sino-Michigan Properties LLC appears to be setting up shop in Michigan to avoid the costly transportation issues related to manufacturing goods in China to be shipped to the US. This presence in Michigan is expected to alleviate that to some degree.
This is not the first foothold that Chinese business has gained in the US. They have bought a financial interest in 600,000 acres of natural gas and oil fields in Texas, they are exploring a 30,000 acre industrial zone in Boise Idaho, they have started the process of putting a power plant in Toledo Ohio on land they own, and the list goes on.
The Chinese have been buying real estate in the US for awhile now, but this move into infrastructural areas such as power plants, manufacturing facilities, oil and gas fields etc., are concerning to many residents. The long term implications are unclear, but we do know that we’re moving into uncharted territory by allowing an enemy country to gain such a significant foothold within our borders.
To better understand their long term strategy here, it might be worth looking at the Chinese game of Go (click here for the Wikipedia article on Go). Go, or weiqi as it is known in China is a game of strategy, in the way that many westerners consider chess to be a game of strategy. The goals are very different though.
In chess, the goal is to attack and capture pieces with the goal of forcing the king to surrender. However, the goal of weiqi is simply to control territory, thereby controlling your opponent. You do not need to waste resources trying to capture your opponent, because if you control their territory, you control your opponent anyway.
The real world advantage of adopting an eastern weiqi strategy versus a western chess strategy is that you are able to exert more control while expending fewer resources. You can simply look to US efforts to exert influence in the Middle East as an example of this. Now ask yourself how many resources China is wasting with their approach?
Before you dismiss the analogy of a game to the recent territorial grabs by China here in the US, understand that the game of weiqi has been used for over 2,000 years to train diplomats and business men in China in matters of strategy. Sun Tzu’s Art of War is founded on weiqi principals, and it shapes everything they do in business and politics. The territorial grab we’re seeing now is all just part of the game.