Robinson said when the group visited a gin on a Saturday, it looked like a normal gin operation on the inside.

“There were piles of seed cotton outside, covered with tarps,” he said. “From what I saw of the hand- harvested cotton, it was pretty clean looking. I’ve heard about hand-harvested cotton in Africa and India where there is lots of human hair contaminant, plus rocks, etc. But this stuff looked pretty clean to my uneducated eye. This gin had one line that was ginning hand-harvested cotton. It had a separate line that was ginning machine-picked cotton.”

Robinson said the finished pressed bale was wrapped in the normal looking ties and then a plastic wrap. The finished bales were stored outside in big stacks. Some of the stacks had huge tarps over them and some did not.

“I was told these bales were heading north, presumably to some warehouse owned by the quasi-military, quasi-government agency which everybody just calls the Corps. This is the historical legacy of this place. There were a bunch of Chinese military out there and when they were retired from military service, they got retrofitted into cotton farmers.”

He also toured a custom harvest business run by a father-and-son team.

“They had quite a collection of equipment, which they admitted was financed in part from the Chinese government, some sort of borrowing subsidy,” he said. “They have 37, six-row Case pickers. These were stored in a huge compound of garage bays that either housed the pickers or housed piles of machine parts, oil, etc.; you name it.

“The compound also had fuel tanks and fuel trucks, and quite a number of ‘living boxes,’ which were big trailers that could accommodate a harvest crew. The system is geared for mobility — they haul around the machines, the crews, the fuel, etc. to wherever they’re picking.”

Robinson said the university faculty there have a favorable view of Texas A&M and he did his best to enhance that view.

“I think their goal generally is to increase the quality of their faculty by exposing them to the U.S., e.g., delegation trips and visiting scholars,” he said.