2/25/2010 Duke in China - it smells

Fact Checker here.

Please get your maps out. Kunshan is almost as far from Shanghai as Winston-Salem is from Durham. You bite the Duke administration's line by saying it is "just outside" of Shanghai. You also neglect nine -- count them -- nine other cities between Shanghai and Kunshan with one million or more people.

It is difficult for Fact Checker to see how a 200 acre Duke campus in a backwater will foster the "educational and cultural exchange" you envision. That would be true if all this were in Beijing or Shanghai or some other truly great city, but this place has no university, no airport, and only one hotel within its borders (check this out via Hotel.Com) that has any stars at all. Kunshan offers Duke one thing: an open checkbook!

It isn't even Chinese as we know the word; the town owes its place on the map to sharks from Taiwan who have put up many factories to seize cheap labor. One example: the jobs Dell Computer promised for Winston Salem, taking tax dollars to put up a plant, are going to Kunshan. As that city thrives and its cost of labor rises (as is happening) the Taiwanese will dump Kunshan for one other place to exploit.

Fact Checker asks again: aren't we just following the buck? Or as President Brodhead put it before he saw the big bucks dangling, aren't we just being "opportunistic?" What strategic plan led us to Kunshan, and to a scattering of other cities. What strategic plan has left us out of all of Latin America, all of Africa, most of Western Europe, and all of Mexico with whom we have the greatest misunderstandings, and Canada with whom we have the greatest trade?

Also, Chronicle, what is your source for the information that Duke's mistaken adventure into Kunshan is the "boldest step for any American university expanding into China." Bold is an cheap, easy word to use: Fact Checker is the boldest journalistic force on any campus in America!!!

Lastly, fellow Dukies. Don't just assume that we can put our brand name out there and it will be instant success. Fuqua tumbled reaching into Frankfurt, fumbled with the London School of Economics, bumbled in Moscow and crumbled with the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. You don't hear those cities mentioned anymore.

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