George Skelton takes a narrow, cynical view of California's recent trade mission to China. He does a disservice to the dozens of businesses and economic development groups from throughout the state that paid their own freight with the genuine purpose of showing China that California is eager to expand bilateral trade and investment.
The public-private partnership that Skelton finds unseemly is a legitimate and widely used tool for funding projects that serve the public good when public dollars are tight. And the law authorizing it provides strong disclosure requirements to ensure transparency.
California can't sit on its hands when it comes to competing globally, particularly in China. Indeed, the governors of Utah and Virginia have recently publicized plans to meet with California CEOs in an effort to attract Golden State businesses before heading their own trade missions to China.