The Pearl Tower in Shanghai is the proud symbol of Chinas economic hopes. From the 1,148-foot-high observation deck of this TV tower, you can see modern China bursting with new office towers, factories, freeways and all of the signs of new jobs and prosperity. You can catch a glimpse of the tower in Tom Cruises new thriller, MI-III. It looks like a giant pearl attached to a knitting needle.
But look at the tower from ground level across the Huangpu River and youll notice something else: a giant Amway banner plastered along the waterfront at the base of the Pearl Tower.
For a visitor from Michigan, the Amway banner stirs bittersweet feelings. Do you feel proud that a Michigan company, launched in 1959 in little old Ada outside Grand Rapids, is doing so well in China? Or do you feel that there must be some truth to the claims of the Democratic Party that Amway outsourced 1,400 jobs to China?
The banner makes you wonder if Michigan workers have been screwed by Amway the same as by other multinational corporations that have fled our state for cheaper labor in Mexico, Korea, China or India.
Dick DeVos, candidate for governor and former head of Amways parent company, Alticor, claims that not a single Michigan job has been lost to China. In fact, he says, Alticors expansion to China in 1995 actually created 300 high-paying jobs in Michigan.