Letter from Sun Yat-sen to Henry Ford. (Ford Motors/screenshot)
The father of modern China once invited Henry Ford to China to create a “new industrial system,” to help the then-struggling country. Sun Yatsen, who founded the Nationalist Party and helped to overthrow the ruling Qing dynasty, wrote a letter in 1924 asking Ford to visit South China, where “much of the intelligence, energy and wealth of this country can be found.”
"I know and I have read of your remarkable work in America. And I think that you can do similar work in China on a much vaster and more significant scale. In a sense it may be said that your work in America has been more individual and personal, whereas here in China you would have an opportunity to express and embody your mind and ideals in the enduring form of a new industrial system."
Henry Ford somewhat curtly declined via his secretary. “Thank you for the kind invitation,” his response read, but “Mr. Ford has made no plans for visiting China in the very near future.”
Had Henry Ford traveled to China to help organize the country’s industrialization in the 1920s, would history have been very different for China?