93 year old Sidney Rittenberg has lived a long life.
It all started in Charleston, South Carolina.
He says it's his roots that showed him the similarities between China and the southern U.S.
"When I first got to China in the U.S. Army in 1945, I really felt in many ways it was like coming home. In many ways the Chinese are very much like us, strong family ties, strong respect for learning and love for children,” Rittenberg said.
Rittenberg lived in China for more than 40-years, working closely with the People's Republic of China.
He believes the U.S. China Manufacturing Symposium has the potential to improve cultural military and economic relationships between the two countries.
"There's no conflicts of interest that can't be adjusted and overcome. We have different views and ways but the things we share in common are much more important," Rittenberg said.
Rittenberg says in the past 93 years he's learned there are two things you need for success.
"The first is respect, that doesn't mean you have to agree on everything but when you disagree do it with respect. The other thing is patience. It's going to take a lot of patience," Rittenberg said.
Rittenberg says although it won't happen overnight, once the wiregrass sees one or two successful projects and experience working with the Chinese, doors will open.
"This place can become a lighthouse for all these 13 states. It will help us to learn to live together and work out our issues, political, military and so on," Rittenberg said.
Rittenberg and his wife own a consulting firm that assists U.S. businesses that work with Chinese companies.