Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | 8:48 a.m.
They went, they saw, they returned home taking a deep breath.
“Our experience [in China] was an unmistakable reminder of just how hard we have to work to make America more competitive with the rest of the world,” Sen. Harry Reid said about the meetings he and nine other senators held with various ministers in China over the last week as part of an exploratory delegation to advance diplomatic and business ventures.
While the U.S. is still the world’s largest economy, China is nipping at its heels in fast-growing second place, and as the largest holder of U.S. debt.
But American lawmakers have greater concerns about China -- namely, that it’s beginning to out-advance the U.S. in emerging fields that the Obama administration has identified as crucial to reinvigorating the nation’s, and also Nevada’s, economy.
The delegation of seven Democrats and three Republicans met with China’s foreign minister, vice president, chairman of the legislature, central bank president and the chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau -- the latter being a locale with particular significance to Las Vegas, as it’s now the global capital of gambling.
The delegation also spent ample time exploring two other areas of particular interest to Nevada: China’s renewable energy industries’ hub of Chengdu and the Chinese Rail Ministry, which is a global leader in high-speed rail.
“China isn't investing so heavily in clean energy just because it's good for the environment – it’s doing so because it's good for the economy,” Reid said. “China knows clean energy creates jobs and, in reducing its reliance on oil, makes it more secure. With our vast renewable energy resources and American ingenuity, we can’t afford not to be a globally competitive leader in this important area.”