I have been talking with GMU President Alan Merten, who is also in Kunming via Syria. In Syria, Alan was surprised when he was asked to meet with President Bashar al-Assad. Even more surprising, the President wanted to talk about entrepreneurship, GMU, and how Syria can benefit from better economics.
Later, talking with the Finance minister, Merten learned one of the key drivers of this new openness. The Finance minister explained that he was meeting with a counterpart in the Chinese government. "What can we do," the Syrian Finance minister asked, "to increase Chinese investment?" "Well," the Chinese minister replied, "before we invest in Syria you most open your markets, cut your subsidies, and reduce regulation…"