Airplane manufacturer Boeing’s headquarters in Everett, Washington was Hu Jintao’s first stop in America because of the lucrative deal that China planned to sign. China has been a boon to Boeing, says the New York Times:
Boeing is the largest supplier of planes to China and wants to sell even more. Currently, more than 60 percent of the commercial plans operating in China — a total of 542 — are Boeing planes. In the two decades ahead, Boeing forecasts that China is expected to buy up to 2,600 planes, valued at $213 billion, as the country expands its air transportation systems.
The planes on order for 2008 are the so-called “Dreamliners” or 787 — which used to be called the 7E7 — the name change, according to Wkipedia, has to do with the clout of Boeing’s Chinese customers:
In the end, Boeing claimed it merely stood for “Eight,” after the aircraft was eventually rechristened “787” when several Chinese airlines ordered the product, Eight is a lucky number in many Asian cultures, and it was thought by some that Boeing seized upon this coincidence as a marketing tool.
Anyway, Hu was a big hit over at Boeing, especially after a Boeing employee gave him a baseball hat with the company logo on it:
Hu threw his arm around Dernier’s shoulder as the two posed for photos in matching hats, then surprised the worker with a big American-style hug.
As he closed the proceedings, Mulally pumped his fist and shouted, “China rocks!”
Fuck yeah! The Seattle Times, being one of the hometown papers, felt obliged to get some cons in with the pros. Some of the employees were ambivalent:
Miller is concerned about outsourcing. He said people from his work area are training Chinese workers in China. “There’s a lot of animosity,” he said. “People feel very bitter.”
Robert Thomas, who has been at Boeing since 1988 and now works on the 777, said before the speeches that “With domestic air carriers failing, if it weren’t for Asian companies buying airplanes, we’d be hurting now.”
He added: “I think most workers here are resigned to the fact that [Boeing] will be building parts in other countries, but we don’t want to lose final assembly here.”
They are resigned because Boeing has made such trends part of their company policy; one of their press releases states:
Today, more than 3,500 Boeing airplanes — one third of Boeing’s world fleet — have major parts and assemblies built in China. Examples of major parts and assemblies built for Boeing by the Chinese industry include the 737 horizontal stabilizer from Shanghai Aircraft Corporation, 737 vertical fin from Xian Aircraft Corporation and 737 tail section modules from Shenyang Aircraft Corporation … Boeing has offered free training to more than 27,000 Chinese aviation professionals since 1993 including pilots, maintenance, flight operations, quality and manufacturing personnel, executives and managers.
Boeing has about 600 million good reasons to do what they are doing; Shanghai Airlines and China Eastern, both Shanghai based, have ordered 24 of these planes between them.