A Brilliant Marketing Move

Tonight's lighting of the Empire State Building in the colors of the People's Republic to honor the country's founding is a pure business decision. It makes all the sense in the world. There will be a ceremony attended by the Chinese Consul, Peng Keyu when the building is lit.

For those who are upset that a building in the United States is honoring communist China it is important to remember that the building is owned by a private firm and not the United States  government. One of the beauties of our capitalist system is that unless they commit treason or against the laws of the United States of America, corporations are free to do as they wish. Many people don't like China's Internet, legal and organ harvesting policies but the McCarthy-era "red" scares over communism should have left our lexicon in the 1960s.

According to the guidelines issued by the Empire State Building, to become a "Lighting Partner" requests are considered based on the merit of their cause, the benefit of their use of special lighting and their treatment of the Empire State Building's iconic image.

The folks who make these decisions receive hundreds of requests from countries and organizations seeking to become Empire State Building Lighting Partners. Why shouldn't they partner with the Chinese? It is great for business. According to buyusa.gov China is the fastest growing travel market in the world and that number is estimated to reach 100 million international travelers by 2020.

In 2007, China was the 16th international market for the United States with almost 400,000 visitors to our country spending nearly $4,000 per person. In addition, in December 2007 China signed a "Memo of Understanding" with the United States allowing US destinations to market themselves in China.

What better way to get tourists to come to the most popular destination in New York City then to show a tour poster/advertisement with the Empire State Building lit up in the country's colors? What a friendly message it sends to potential visitors who have MONEY to spend. All of this carping about lighting up the Empire State Building in Chinese colors disregards that it is a simple marketing decision taken by a privately owned company. Those kind of decisions are what makes our capitalist country great!

Ellen Ratner is Washington Bureau Chief for Talk Radio News Service and a FOX News contributor.