Maryland businesses bring home the goods from Asia

By Len Lazarick

Maryland delegation at Forbidden City in Beijing.

Maryland delegation at Forbidden City in Beijing.

Visiting the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party and government in Beijing last week, Gov. Martin O’Malley gave State Councilor Liu Yandong a framed copy of the manifest of silks and teas Captain John O’Donnell brought to Baltimore from Canton, China in 1785, beginning the city’s trade with Asia.

Tuesday, O’Malley met with reporters to show off his own manifest of goods brought back from a 10-day three-country economic trip to Asia.

University of Maryland College Park President Wallace Loh, a native of China and one of the stars of the trip, announced he had something he wanted to send to China to enhance the university’s already “very well known and highly valued brand in China.”

“My hope is that the Terps will play in China,” Loh said. He’s hoping for next year, which is the 40th anniversary of a visit of a Chinese ping-pong team to play at Cole Field House in College Park.

The governor let some of the business people on the trip talk about their own successes.

Terry Lin, CEO of Columbia’s Planned Systems International, came away with one of the biggest payoffs.
“We were able to sign a $45 million contract” with SkyNet of Xian for a cloud computing center that will document all the encounters with a physicians and a patients, Lin said. He predicts this will lead to more than 100 jobs in Maryland and China.

“Contract negotiations are very hard,” Lin said. The trip with the governor “shortened our contract cycle by easily six months.”

Bob Struble, president and CEO of iBiquity Digital in Columbia, said his firm has been working for years to export its technology for high definition radio to China and the rest of Asia.

“This trip was an excellent opportunity to raise our profile a little bit,” he said. Using talking points the company gave him, O’Malley boosted the business with several key partners.

Chris Barlow, marketing director of Manatron International Land Systems of Silver Spring, said the governor was helpful in citing the company’s work with StateStat. Barlow is trying to sell its services to Anhui Province, Maryland’s sister state for 30 years, and O’Malley spoke to the state’s vice governor.

Barlow hopes the conversations will pay off when the leadership of Anhui visits Maryland next month.

And Lin Hwang of J&R Seafood in Cambridge said the company had been exporting frozen blue crab to Korea. “I knew China was a good market and it was better than I expected,” Hwang said. He expects this trip to help his export business grow by 30%.

Don Kettl, dean of the school of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, has been involved in one of Maryland’s biggest exports to China: knowledge.

So far, 200 mid-career Chinese government officials have graduated from Maryland. That includes four of the vice governors of Jiangsu Province on the coast north of Shanghai, according to state officials.

Loh said the graduates also include judges and senior law enforcement officials.

“We’ve been working to train the next generation of Chinese government leaders,” Kettl said. Like other government officials, he said the Chinese are searching for pragmatic solutions. (While in Maryland for a year, their government agencies pay their expenses and out-of-state tuition.)

Besides his visits with fellow governors and the seat of power in Beijing, O’Malley also met with the president of South Korea and the prime minister of Vietnam.

“If I had one regret, it’s that we didn’t go earlier,” O’Malley said, as had been planned two and a half years ago. But the financial markets didn’t justify it then, he said.

O’Malley hopes to travel to South and Central America, India and Africa.

“I think you can’t be an effective governor in the global economy, in the innovation economy, unless you’re engaged aboard and doing the things that only a governor’s office can do especially in some cultures,” O’Malley said.

For more details on the contracts signed, see the account from the governor’s office.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.