Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes has scrapped his plan to visit China in October because he has been unable to recruit a "quality team" of business and academic leaders to make the 12-day trip with him, according to sources close to the governor.
"Hughes can't get the kind of people the Chinese would like to have," said one administration source. "The top people in industry and education just can't make it this time, so Harry decided he'd wait until he could round up a stronger delegation."
This source said Hughes would attempt to reschedule the trip for sometime next spring.
Hughes had been preparing studiously for his China trip since early last spring, when University of Maryland President John S. Toll, negotiating through a mutual friend of his and Wan Li, chairman of Anhui Province's Revolutionary Committee, arranged an exchange of visits between officials of Maryland and the Chinese province.
Wan Li and 11 other Anhui officials have been in Maryland for the last eight days, visiting Annapolis, the Naval Academy, the Bethlehem Steel plant in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University and other state sites on the first leg of the exchange.
According to administration sources, Hughes informed Wan Li yesterday about his inability to round up a "quality team" for his venture to China. "He asked Wan Li whether he would rather have a second-string team now or a stronger delegation later," one state official said. "They decided to wait for the stronger delegation."
Hughes declined comment on reports that the trip had been postponed. He and Wan Li are expected to make a joint announcement later this week.
According to sources, Hughes was disappointed that top officials at Black & Decker Manufacturing Co., a major Towson-based tool firm, Bethlehem Steel, the state's largest employer, and Johns Hopkins University Hospital all decided that they could not accompany the governor next month.
"These are fairly widely traveled and busy people," said one administration source. "I guess they just had other things they had to do in October."
Although administration sources confirmed that the lack of a "quality team" was the overriding reason the trip was postponed, Hughes told members of his cabinet yesterday morning that he was delaying the trip for two other reasons.
The cabinet officials, according to one state official, were told that the postponement would give Wan Li time to "readjust" from his visit to Maryland and also allow Hughes to prepared his legislative program for the 1980 General Assembly session, which begins in January.
While word of the postponement decision seeped out of Annapolis yesterday, Wan Li and his Chinese delegation were in the Eastern Shore town of Cambridge, where about 20 school children and their parents protested the lack of formal religion in China.
"We're not opposed to the Chinese," said David Wooten a spokesman for the group. "We're just opposed to their atheism."
The protesters first congregated in front of the Bay Shore Food Co. hatchery in Cambridge, but were never seen by the Chinese.