Program aims to give China open market economy

The Portland State College of Urban and Public Affairs has established a new training program to expand management techniques for Chinese government officials through a partnership with China’s Lanzhou University.

The Portland State College of Urban and Public Affairs has established a new training program to expand management techniques for Chinese government officials through a partnership with China’s Lanzhou University.

The program will train government officials in western China in Western management techniques that will aid the Chinese government in achieving an open market economy.

Called the “China-U.S. Sustainable Development Exchange Program,” the program is being funded by the Gansu province of China as well as private Chinese businesses, according to Ronald Tammen, director of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State.

A group of about 90 officials will be participating in the program, and Morgan said that he expects the officials to be on campus for one to two weeks next summer.

Although most of the current Chinese officials in western China were trained in a communist government, they are now interested in establishing private industry and working with international trade groups, Tammen said.

“The idea for a program like this came about five years ago, when [Chinese] officials just didn’t have the same tools as other countries,” he said. “We’ve been working patiently with Lanzhou University to initiate some new training methods, and it’s finally starting to come to fruition.”

Officials who participate in the program will be trained in a broader sense of management, Tammen said.

Tammen said the program was started by Minzu Su, a PSU graduate student who had previously attended Lanzhou University. Su is pursuing a doctorate degree in public policy and administration, and is currently in China studying land reform.

“Su held leadership positions in China before she came here as practitioner, and now she’s taking what she’s learned and advancing the style of management utilized in Chinese government,” said Douglas Morgan, director of the Executive Leadership Institute in PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs.

Morgan also said that Su has been essential to the development of the exchange program.

The program will act as an exchange, Morgan said, with PSU faculty traveling to Lanzhou University and Chinese officials coming to Portland.

“The plan is to have a group of practitioners come to Portland the following summer for a one- to two-week training program,” said Morgan. “We would end up sending faculty members to Lanzhou to teach as part of the training program they are developing, and teach courses in graduate programs.”

The program is also focused on balancing economic and land growth with environmental sustainability due to anticipation over increased urbanization in western China, Morgan said.

“Part of their urbanization strategy is to create cities in countryside,” said Morgan. “Training will act like a safety valve–growth of the economy will bring citizens from countryside to areas with more concentrated economy.”

The groups planning for and overseeing the development of land in western China are called the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Land and Resources.

These two ministries expect 40 new cities of about 500,000 people to develop in western China over the next 10 years, Morgan said. China’s population is mostly concentrated to the eastern half, and the officials who are being trained in the program will focus most of their efforts on the urbanization of western China, Morgan said.

Morgan also said the program is working closely with PSU’s Urban Studies and Planning Department to prepare for next year’s visit from Chinese trainees.

“The urban studies and planning department have been great, and I really appreciate their help in making this all come together,” Morgan said.

Tammen and Morgan recently returned from the Gansu province after finalizing the details of the program, and they are currently scheduling visits from Chinese officials for training at PSU.

Portland State sent a delegation to Lanzhou University two years ago to begin establishing financial trust and planning for an international exchange program, and a Chinese delegation visited PSU last year, Tammen said.

He said he was pleased to see the Chinese government fund the program, because Chinese officials “generally like the western university to pay for this sort of thing.”