Fallon's China Visit Was Well Worth It to Pinehurst Residents
America has sent some of its most distinguished public servants to China, including George Catlett Marshall (a former Pinehurst resident), George H.W. Bush and Henry Kissinger.
So when I first heard that Pinehurst Mayor Virginia "Ginsey" Fallon was over in China and -village taxpayers would be footing the bill for her air ticket, I automatically thought, "What an odd idea." My knee-jerk reaction was apparently shared by many of her usual detractors because a flood of e-mails arrived on my computer knocking the trip's purpose and decrying taxpayers' assuming her modest travel costs of $2,300.
On reflection, I thought I'd look into the matter and try to learn just what was really going on. There have been so many questionable things that Pinehurst has done lately, I wondered if her mission to China was just more of the same.
My first step was to telephone local businessman Tom Stewart in China at the Beijing Marriott at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Tom was part of a North Carolina delegation along with Fallon, Sen. Harris Blake, Bill Edsel, formerly of Pinehurst Surgical, Pinehurst businessman Mike Covington, professor Lian Xie of N.C. State (who with Blake created the Carolina China Council) and Pinehurst golf course architect Richard Mandell.
Xie is a meteorologist who'd advised the Chinese government on ways to eliminate smog at the Olympic Games. Mandell is currently designing and building the Skydoor Golf Club, a beautiful 27-hole golf course in Zhangiajie, which Fallon visited.
Tom was effusive in his praise of the trip and Ginsey's significant contributions. He said that she'd been "tireless" in her representation of Pinehurst at an international forum of friendship and cooperation attended by Chinese officials and business -leaders. He believed that she'd given at least six speeches extolling Pinehurst's virtues and confirmed that China had underwritten delegation expenses in China.
Stewart said several U.S. cities were represented, including Washington, D.C., and Salinas, Calif., along with representatives from five continents and 20 nations, including Sri Lanka, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
On June 23, Fallon and Mayor Wu Biao officially signed an agreement establishing a sister city relationship with Zhijiang Dong Autonomous County, Hunan Province and Pinehurst. It promises to facilitate -regular contacts between the two municipalities for cooperation and exchange programs of mutual interest, stressing economic cooperation and educational exchanges with cross--cultural learning opportunities for -students and citizens of all ages to gain a deeper appreciation of respective traditions and heritages.
The letter mentions that "citizens of Pinehurst have hosted each and every Friendship Delegation from Hunan Province and played a pivotal role in fostering a state-to-province friendship between North Carolina and Hunan Province."
The delegates believe that should China's fast-growing wealthier classes ever get the "golf bug" as the Japanese have, Pinehurst will one day see avid Chinese players on its famed courses, with Chinese business leaders and -officials staying at Pinehurst hotels.
History reminds one that only 60 years ago American and U.N. forces fought a terribly bitter war in North Korea, with China allied with our enemy. It cost more than 36,000 U.S. military deaths and 92,000 wounded. Gen. Douglas MacArthur had urged using atomic bombs in the conflict. It was a close call.
Officially that war has never ended, albeit an armistice was signed. The Chinese later sent men and arms to aid the North Vietnamese when America waged war there. Only when President Richard Nixon went to China and met Chairman Mao Zedong in 1972 were diplomatic relations established, ensuring the People's Republic of China's place in the United Nations.
The U.S.-China relationship remains complex and multifaceted. We're China's biggest trading customer; it's our largest creditor. Whoever contributes to strengthening that -relationship deserves our thanks. Blake and Fallon have fostered an important exchange of ideas in -education, medicine and the promotion of tourism, and helped bring Pinehurst fully to the attention of China. Kudos all around!
Paul R. Dunn, co-author of "Great Donald Ross Golf Courses You Can Play," can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story